Well, it’s not true. Money can buy happiness. What it can’t buy is a meaningful, fulfilling life.
In our consumer economy, there’s always something new to buy that will make us happy. Whether it’s dinner at a favorite restaurant, a vacation or a new car, we pursue the pleasure of that next purchase. It’s so easy, right?
But the pursuit of “more” can leave us feeling empty. Fortunately, happiness is only part of the story. Our journey through life can be so much richer when we widen our perspective.
A truly meaningful life is about fulfillment through living your purpose, being of service and supporting a community. If you aren’t living your purpose and working with others in service to your collective good, no amount of money can buy what’s missing.
This sense of mission will present challenges, and even obstacles to happiness, at times. But living with a bigger picture in mind can lead to a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. In fact, it can ease the burden of your financial journey.
I have identified nine pieces to put in place to complete the fulfillment puzzle:
1. A healthy relationship with yourself and others.
2. Skills and abilities to earn a living wage.
3. A safe and supportive home and lifestyle.
4. Understanding personal finance and building good habits.
5. Integrity – personal and financial.
6. Your vision of financial independence.
7. Dreams and tools for accomplishing them.
8. Adding value to others by living your purpose.
9. A mutually supportive community.
The first three form your foundation. If any of these pieces are missing or damaged, you are likely to find your life in turmoil. Pieces four through seven provide financial stability and the opportunity to live a life that many people would call happy.
But a happy life doesn’t guarantee a meaningful life.
In an article in Scientific American, author Daisy Grewal reports on a study examining happiness and meaning, which found that the two were not identical. Even though they overlap, they also diverge. What makes us happy may not always bring more meaning and vice versa, she said.
The study’s findings suggest that happiness is about getting what we want in life, Grewal said, while meaningfulness seems to have more to do with giving, effort and sacrifice.
This is where eight and nine on my list come in to play.
Are you part of a mutually supportive community? Are you adding value to others?
Money may not buy you meaning, but meaning can put your money into perspective – and maybe even make you feel fulfilled, too.
Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. Visit his website, www.personalfinancecoaching.com.