Wednesday, June 23, 2010

money and happiness

I can't tell how the day has gone as fast as it has. I spend no more than an hour on the computer with my word processor open waiting for words to come, and I got my hair cut. That shouldn't have taken all this time. I think that's the ultimate take away from living on my own schedule. Time is even more fleeting than we think. It's no secret that the days quickly turn into years, but that the seconds turn into year as well is a less accepted fact.

I think that highlights again how much more important time is than money. This has been a source of conflict in some of my relationships because it's easy to dismiss my lack of interest in money as a behavioural manifestation of some idealogical belief. That's not the case. I do hold some idealogical beliefs as do all people, but I have arguments for my desire to pursue free time and larger goals rather than pursuing money. Some of it is based on differences between me and other people, some of it is based on changes that have occured between my generation and those immediately preceding us, and some of it is simply based on an attempt to calculate potential quality of life without using money as the measure.

My personal attitudes are partly formed by being raised by teachers. My parents both taught in a poor rural school district. They were paid very little but kept it up because they loved teaching. We still traveled and lived interestingly. I spent a few years of my child hood in Japan, for instance. We had to be more creative about ho to pay for these things, such as finding jobs in Japan, and saving for a long time, but we were still able to do it, because it was a priority. IN this inatance doing something you love, and setting your priorities leads to a good life. That's part of why I don't think money is all that important.

I also find that I am more fulfiled by insular activities that cost little than I am by the external ones. I love to read and to write and to play music. These all cost little or no money. I am sustained by my music and writing, and I don't have to pay to do these things. Id be happy just playing music for the rest of my life.

I also think my my generation doesn't think of work, and money, the same way older (or at least recent older) generations had. We look more towards free time as the holy grail than to money. some of this is because of hte advent of credit, and some of it is simply from seeing our parents choose money over free time, and fullfilling employment and becoming miserable anyway. The further intricacies of intergenerational differences are fodder for other essays.

Despite these social reasons for my attitudes towards money, I think that my reasoning justifying my position is sound. I believe that satisfaction with one's life is more based on enjoyment of ones job and amount of freetime. This is supported by refutatuions of the measurment of quality of life by money. It's a conundrum of the west, this disconnection between amount of money and amount of happy. Why is America less happy than poorer places if money is the key to happiness? the answer is either that money isn't the key to happiness, or that our measurments are wrong. I'm leaning towards the idea that money isn't the key to happiness. This is largely due to coloquial evidence, but if someone can find me a study on happiness and amount of freetime (and I"m sure more than one such study exists) you will see that people with more freetime are happier, (this also applies to people who do work that they enjoy)

The point is that the money isn't important. It's the freetime, and the satisfaction. I think my generation is begining to realise that.

1 comment:

heaps! said...

It is hard to tell whether or not the new generation is realising that money is not as important as how you live your life. It may be that you personally enjoy what you do over what you make, but others may beg to differ.

I do very much agree with you in regards to how people should think of money in their lives. Money can only make you comfortable in life, not so much give you happiness and purpose.

I've actually elaborated that a lot here if you are interested: