Happiness is ... 🙂

Happiness is ... 🙂

by | 5 min read
Originally posted on newsletter.alexhyett.com
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Abandoned Smilie face badge in the woods

The other evening at dinner I was having a conversation with my daughter. She said to me, “I want to be rich when I am older”.

Over the last few years, we have been trying to teach our kids more about money. Every couple of weeks they get given pocket money equivalent to their age. At 9 years old my daughter now gets £9 ($11) every 2 weeks.

When we do go shopping they will look at things they would like to get. At this point, we tell them the price and that if they want to get it, they will need to save up for it. Everything is so expensive these days.

Most of the time, however, they will find something else to spend their money on. That one toy that they really really wanted at the moment, is forgotten about.

Even though the toy might be forgotten, the feeling of not being able to get what they wanted stays with them. Which brings me back to our dinner conversation.

“Why do you want to be rich?” I ask.

“So I can buy all the toys I want.” replies my daughter.

She then goes on to talk about the toys and gadgets that her friends at school have and how she wishes she could have them too.

Now I should point out that my children are not deprived, they do in fact have many toys. They just don’t play with them.

As with everything money can buy, it can bring you pleasure for a period of time but cannot bring you happiness. Eventually, you get used to having the latest gadget and then your happiness levels off and you go looking for the next dopamine hit.

My daughter assumed that because others were able to buy all these cool gadgets and toys they were rich.

I am sure it fell on deaf ears but I tried to explain that having these things doesn’t mean they are rich. All we know is that they no longer have that money to spend.

Just because someone pulls up in a very expensive car doesn’t make them rich. They either spent their savings to buy it or they have a very expensive car loan which they are only one paycheque away from defaulting on.

There are people who can afford everything without going above their means but it is not the case for the majority of people. I don’t live in a very affluent area so I can almost guarantee that a lot of these purchases have been made on credit.

Spending money on toys and gadgets might not make you happy but there is one thing we can say. Spending money you don’t have and getting yourself into debt is the fast track to misery.

So what is happiness?

My daughter thinks that she is unhappy because she can’t afford to get the toys that she wants to get.

However it is not the lack of stuff that is making her unhappy, she has plenty of stuff, it is wanting something that she doesn’t have.

There is a quote from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear that says it better than I can:

“Happiness is simply the absence of desire… Happiness is not about the achievement of pleasure (which is joy or satisfaction), but about the lack of desire. It arrives when you have no urge to feel differently. Happiness is the state you enter when you no longer want to change your state.”

Joseph Heller, the author of Catch-22 once went to a dinner party with Kurt Vonnegut which was hosted by a billionaire hedge fund manager. Kurt asked how it made Joe feel that the billionaire earned more in a single day than Heller earned from his novel.

Heller responded with:

“Yes, but I have something he will never have - Enough.”

Should you give up trying for more?

Having enough doesn’t mean that you should give up on your dreams.

It just means having realistic dreams that aren’t centred around material possessions.

Over the last 9 months, I have been trying to grow my YouTube channel which has nearly reached 4,000 subscribers and is now earning around $1.50 a day.

I have no intention of being a typical influencer. I don’t post funny videos to gain attention. I am just trying to teach what I know to help others.

Once I have a slightly larger audience, I will be putting some of my knowledge into courses and turning this into a proper business.

My goal is to earn enough money to cover my expenses so I can have control of my time and spend it doing what I enjoy.

My enough, in this case, is around £40,000 ($50,600) a year or £3,333 a month which after tax will cover all my costs.

Any additional money will go towards freeing more of my time by outsourcing video editing and other tasks.

I have realised I am the happiest when I don’t have others dictating how I spend my time. I think this applies to many of you as well.

When it comes to striving for the next promotion, be sure to ask yourself whether it brings you closer to your definition of enough or further away.

Usually the higher you get up the engineering ladder the more hours you need to put in at work. When you add up the hours and additional stress it isn’t always a very good deal.

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