Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Who Said Money Can't Buy Happiness?




Of course, I know that intangible things like "love from family and friends", "being healthy" and "pursuing a passion" are some of the most common things that people derive happiness from, but a huge misconception is that these things come a whole lot easier with money. Money doesn't have to play a huge role in that. Poor and rich alike both strive for these things.

Haven't you heard about celebrities complaining how they had some bad experiences with "friends" that only hung out with them for their money? Or how rich bachelors have problems finding a girl that isn't after their money? Sure, you can buy your girlfriend a giant diamond ring, but do you really think that it would make her love you more? Pursuit of passions comes in different price tags too. A good book or a simple hobby like jogging can be enjoyed by anybody. If you need to go hunting for extreme wildlife on an illegal safari in Africa, maybe, just maybe, you need a bit too much to get you a hard-on about life.

But having a big mansion to cry about your failures in life while drowning yourself in your favourite 25 year whiskey as your super hot bimbo trophy wife makes you your favourite caviar, foie gras and lobster sandwich.... that sure helps getting over it and moving on.

Personally, I am a very strong disbeliever of upsizing you lifestyle as your income grows. I'm still going to visit my favourite hawker uncle to eat my favourite oyster omelette whether my bank account has $1,000 or $1 million. The only difference is that I can buy $10 instead of $6, and I can afford to go for multiple heart bypasses.

While I think that for most things in life have to be compared on a relative scale to get a clearer picture and a better, more fluid, more realistic comparison and standing, I think that lifestyle goals should be in absolutes. And here's some proof about that.

I was talking to a friend, and my proposition was that the key to happiness is having low expectations in life, and mentally giving yourself a lot of excuses why you should realistically have low expectations (multiple factors each with a margin of error, multiplied out, how can you be certain of anything?). So far, it has served me pretty well.

He then went on to agree with me, but to build up on my line of thought that turned out to be very two dimensional. He said that my current mode of thinking is very good about being instantly happy with the outcome of individual events, but it doesn't say anything about your happiness after that in retrospect and it does not say anything about how you view your life, which is a series of many many events.

He thinks that happiness in a 3D state involves having a process after the event, to register happy outcomes or to correct and deal with unhappy outcomes. This can be done through either a thought process to develop synthetic happiness, or else by having a problem solving process that aims to increase the probability of a happy outcome the next time the event occurs.

Sorry, I don't know if I ventured too far off into very philo-esque territory and it is becoming hard to follow my train of thought, but after re-reading what I just wrote, although seemingly irrelevant, I think that it is related to the topic of being happy so I shall just leave it here in this post as part of my insane ramblings. I know it isn't anything new, but perhaps it might be enlightening to some to read a different perspective on happiness.

TL;DR: Money isn't everything, but it sure as hell helps a lot. Happiness is about managing your expectations, not about collecting expensive things or expensive experiences.

Bonus Video: Synthesize your own happiness from unfavourable outcomes

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