A few years ago, Bill Gates held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on a famous online forum, Reddit. Various questions were asked, ranging from serious topics such as climate change to light topics like movies and entertainment. Among the questions, one that popped up was, “Has being a rich man made you happier than being a middle-class?”. He answered, “Yes, because I don’t have to worry about thinking about the cost of healthcare or education.”
He added that being rich did make him happy since it frees his mind from financial problems and worrying about the cost of living, which is something to be grateful for. However, Gates explained that a person does not have to have billions of dollars or become a millionaire to achieve a certain level of happiness.
What money may give you
Just like what Bill Gates mentioned, money might bring you peace of mind. This is particularly true if you live in poverty.
For instance, research that was conducted in Zambia showed that unconditional cash transfers paid directly to poor households could increase 7.5% to 10% of happiness and subjective well-being for 48 months. Having less financial stress in the household might also favorably affect parenting style.
Research that was conducted by Ponnet et al (2013) aimed to examine how financial stress was associated with problematic behavior in adolescents throughout their parents’ lives. They conducted a survey among 340 families and in the end, they found that financial stress mediated family conflicts and parenting styles which ultimately might contribute to depressive symptoms.
From both pieces of research, the findings showed that money could improve your well-being as well as reduce conflict within the family.
What you need to think about
Even though there is plenty of evidence that money might bring happiness since it could reduce the amount of stress, there is also plenty of research that explores more factors of happiness other than money.
For example, Demenech et al (2022) investigated whether income and stress shaped the distribution of happiness. In the end, they found that personality played an important role in determining happiness. Researchers believed that individual characteristics could contribute to an optimal balance of stress regardless of income, thus allowing individuals to be happy.
Another aspect you need to focus on is how you spend your money. Money might bring you more satisfaction if you spend it on experiences or events instead of material objects.
Another important factor that you need to be aware of is how you define wealth and materialism. When you think that wealth is the only way to achieve happiness, you might forget that more factors influence your happiness such as relationships and health. However, when you think that wealth signifies success, it will enhance your drive to work and improve your standard of living and be hopeful about the future.
Therefore, even if money might bring us some positive effects in life, there are some things that you need to consider, such as your perception of wealth, how you spend your money, and your personality.
Just like what Bill Gates mentioned, a person doesn’t have to have billions of dollars or become a millionaire to achieve a certain level of happiness. If you are looking for ultimate happiness, maybe you don’t have to be rich. There are a lot of other factors that are related to happiness rather than the amount of money you have.
You might still need a certain amount of money to pay your bills. Instead of focusing on how to be a mega-millionaire, you can also focus on what you want in life as well as how you manage and spend your money. You can start with enhancing your financial literacy, adopting a healthy lifestyle, as well as saving for retirement to achieve your ultimate life goal.
Managing money is just one of the many aspects of life that Life Management Science Labs’ (LMSL) Personal Science Labs tackles. The lab also provides courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other learning resources using the research of the Institute for Life Management Science. If you would like to know more, visit the Personal Science Labs today.
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