Does making more money make you happier?
I get this question a lot. And there's a healthy scientific debate about it, too.
Research has shown that once our core needs are met, making more money doesn’t lead to lasting happiness.
But it’s nuanced: What are core basic needs? Are there just food and shelter and medical expenses? Or do they include travel, creative expression, cultural experiences and leisure activities?
I've lived this question in a very personal way.
When I was a teenager, my parents and I came to the United States as refugees.
We literally had nothing, just a few suitcases we brought with us. We lived on welfare and foods-stamps while my parents looked for work.
After they found jobs, had to build our lives from scratch, in every way. We didn't have much money for a while and I graduated college with a very heavy load of loans.
I worked hard, built a successful career in finance and tech, paid off my and my husband's college loans, and was the primary breadwinner taking care of our family.
I was so proud of that.
And I can tell you with 100% confidence that after having no money or very little money, being able to provide all we needed for my family felt amazing.
It didn't make me happy.
I felt a void inside... and I kept trying to fill it with more and more achievements (this didn't work).
So here's my answer to "Does making more money make you happier?":
When you're struggling to take care of your family or your basic needs, making more money will absolutely make you happier.
But money *alone*, no matter how much you make, will never bring you lasting happiness unless you have a sense of purpose and feel that you are contributing something meaningful in life.
This was my void.
And while it took many years and a severe burnout to figure it out, I'm grateful to say that today, I feel overflowing with a sense of purpose and meaning.
I hope reading this inspires you to tap into what’s most meaningful in your life!
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