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I have heard people sneer at the words “money doesn’t buy happiness” challenging the universe to send them abundance and they will show everyone just how wrong that old adage is. Spoiler alert – been there, had that…the adage is absolutely correct!
At the ripe old age of twenty, I had decided that there was no such thing as a soulmate; there were many people out there with whom I could fall in love. If that was true then it made perfect and logical sense that I only date rich men. If I could fall in love with a selection of potential Mr. Rights then I wanted the finished product, not the shared journey. (Wasn’t I a catch!!!)
I shudder now to think of how ridiculous I must have sounded out at a college bar, turning down potential suitors with the honest truth, I didn’t date works in progress, I didn’t want any surprises. That said, I am pretty skilled at manifesting. Years of Sunday drives through the rich neighborhood in my city had shown me where I wanted to live. I had pulled photos from Brides magazine of what my dress would look like, what the bridesmaids would wear, how my home would be decorated and what car I would drive. Fast forward a few (very few) years and I was living in my dream house, driving a luxury SUV, with a golden retriever puppy and a lakefront weekend getaway. I had access to travel, to parties and to everything I thought I needed to make me happy.
Here’s the tricky part. If you had asked me, I would have said I was happy (and I truly thought I was). Why? I had all the stuff I wanted ergo, I must be happy. (This is what happens when we think when we should be feeling).
If something deep inside knew I was less than happy, I had succeeded in squelching it down. Even when my husband of less than a year asked if I wanted to go to marriage counselling I said no. Nothing was wrong. Or at least nothing I had allowed my body to feel.
One day he headed out on the seadoo at our lake house. The water was really rough. I was tired of parenting my infant daughter and chasing our toddler who spent hours every day trying to run into the lake. She was autistic and was drawn toward water like a moth to a flame. As I watched my husband ride out into the waves I was furious that he couldn’t see how wiped out I was and a thought popped into my head “I hope he doesn’t come back”. It was a whisper from somewhere deep that rocked my entire universe. I was physically trembling as I thought “What kind of horrible person wants their husband to never come back from a ride in the waves?!” What was wrong with me?
I like to think of that aha moment as the universe switching the volume switch to full on my inner voice. Fast forward one year later I was waiting for a divorce and exploring who I really was. Another two years passed and I had taken enough personal growth courses to recognize who I was and what I wanted. The most exciting part was that this included how I wanted to feel, not just what I wanted to do or have. And guess what? I got the full package, a man of my dreams who was a life partner and a second chance to thrive.
Why am I writing this? You might not feel unhappy. You might not equate an absence of joy or a lack of purpose with unhappiness. You might even think there is something wrong with you for not being happier given your beautiful house, the fabulous vacations you take and your wonderful children. I’m writing this in the hopes that if there is just one person who reads this and goes a little deeper, thinks a little more, gets introspective for just one moment longer perhaps someone else will go thinking they have a perfectly fine life externally to flourishing and feeling joy.
As children we learn like sponges. We are systematically taught not to feel. We all go through life hearing “Don’t say that, you will make your mother mad” or “ Just pretend you like it, it’s the nice thing to do”. As adults we continue what we mastered in childhood, telling the world what we think it wants to hear.
We think money will make us happy because we live in a world where we have been taught that once you have the right education and the right career and the right partner then we will be happy. In reality how it really works is the exact opposite; once you are happy then you attract the people, the career and the abundance.
Science has studied this and the truth is after a family has income of $70,000 there is virtually no increase in happiness with an increase of net worth. A startling fact is that if you win a lottery or if your partner suddenly dies, one year from the win or the death most people are exactly as happy as they were before. Neither death nor wealth can change your baseline happiness.
The only way money affects happiness after basic needs of food, shelter and safety are met is if you spend it for the good of others.
This doesn’t mean for one second that I don’t get sucked into wanting the next level. I still want hundreds of things every day. And if I get one or two of these things or if I get none of these things, it doesn’t affect my joy.
My take away:
And remember, unlike money happiness never decreases when you share it.
Tamara Lechner is a Happiness Expert and Chopra Certified Instructor whose mission is to be so happy that those around her cannot help but to step into her light. Happiness is one of the only resources that isn’t depleted when shared. To see more of her writing or to book her as a speaker please visit her site or follow her on FB, Twitter, and IG.
Image courtesy of Ben Rosett.