I have always pondered on the question, what makes us happy? This is a question that has preoccupied people for centuries. If you are reading this post right now you are probably wondering the same thing and you are not alone.
The World Happiness Report, 2012 by the Earth Institute at Colombia University, identified a strong correlation between wealth and happiness. Apparently, “more than just having a lot of money – a person’s happiness comes down to job security, along with a stable family life and good mental health. It seems that it’s not about having money, but it’s about having financial stability/security.”
Wealth brings financial security which in turn increases life satisfaction. Simply put, those that are generally stressed about their financial matters are generally less satisfied with their lives. As such the contentment of our loved ones is a big part of our happiness, which on the other hand requires some money to achieve. So, is being happy really about money then? Let us take a deeper dive into the issue.
Financial Instability and Your State of Health
One would ask, is Financial Stability and Happiness are in some sort of marriage? Actually, this is a YES. The stress of dealing with money issues is all too familiar to many of us-struggling to pay bills and worrying about where your next pay cheque might come from can drain your health. Unfortunately in this case, unhealthy=unhappy.
The physical and mental strain from the money-related anxiety is enough to kill anyone. Evidence has been mounting on this very fact. In fact, TopCashback reports that 82 per cent of its survey’s respondents consider financial well-being to be “equally important” as healthy eating and exercise in terms of its impact on their overall health.
Money in itself is not the issue though. The issue is how much money you make at any point in your life and the promise of doing better monetarily over a number of years and feeling more financially secure. This is what contributes to your happiness, i.e. the long-term predictability of any increased income you manage to secure. Incidentally, you are likely to be the most dissatisfied if you have to consistently work longer and/or harder to either better or maintain your economic position. Our level of financial security does indeed affect our emotional and psychological well-being in some way.
In essence therefore, it would appear that we are most satisfied with our lives when we have some confidence in our level of financial comfort, that is, it will increase steadily over time and that we will not have to kill ourselves to secure that increased comfort level.
Is money the root of Happiness?
Happiness is an emotional state and it is interesting to consider money as a root source. Many people might actually agree that money can buy them happiness. I do not know if that is true. This is what I know to be true- that Money can make you happy, because it can eliminate many stresses and problems that not having enough money brings.
Financial Security-A key factor to Financial Well being
Financial security refers to the peace of mind you feel when you are not worried about your income being enough to cover your expenses. It further implies that you have enough money saved to cover emergencies and your future financial goals.
Our contentment and fulfillment generally emanates from how we handle money therefore. If we manage it wisely and give it an appropriate amount of significance in our lives—not too little, not too much, it contributes to our state of well-being.
How you get there to that state of financial well-being is to try to take financial wellness as a component of your overall wellness. You identify and be aware of your problems with money and what kind of relationship you have with it. A healthy relationship with money is tantamount to overall health and wellness.
What does this relationship look like though?
According to Klontz and Lowrance, “spending money based on your values; having low or reasonable debt; saving money to meet your goals; and having a safety net, such as an emergency fund or insurance” is financial health or well-being.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? It is although it is a discipline one has to adopt. Some other experts have identified 4 dimensions of financial well-being that we can easily adopt;
a) Having control over our day-to-day, month-to-month finances;
b) Having the capacity to absorb a financial shock;
c) Being on track to meet our financial goals;
d) Having the financial freedom to make choices that allow us to enjoy life;
Financial well-being is a state not achieved by many, that we all need to strive to achieve. It is a state of being where you can fully meet your current and ongoing financial obligations, can feel secure in your financial future and is able to make choices now that allow you to enjoy life. This is not therefore necessarily about money, but more about the value money contributes to your life.
Money is often a taboo topic, but if your financial wellness is anything but OK, seek professional help. As Lowrance said, “Asking for help or seeking support is not a sign of weakness or deficiency; it is a sign of wisdom and an act of courage.”