Photo provided by Linus Schütz
I consider myself a pretty happy guy. I often smile, sing out loud to myself, and have a spring in my step. I've got lots to be happy about, including a wife and four children who are all just amazing people.
An experience I had at the airport a few weeks ago reminded me how lucky I am. The short version of the story is that I got a startling reminder of my wife's attractive looks. (The longer, but not too long, version can be found here.) I spent the rest of the evening laughing about out how good I have it. That's not to say that a beautiful life partner is necessary for happiness, but I'm not going to pretend that it doesn't help. Isn't she amazing?!
Anyhow, I've been thinking a good deal about what makes me happy because of a study that Purdue doctoral candidate Andrew Jebb put out earlier this year. It seems there's a point at which the amount of money you make annually stops impacting your happiness. In fact, that amount is about $105,000 in the United States, though it varies depending on the size of your family and where you live. The point is, if you fritter away your existence trying to make millions and millions with the belief it'll bring you peace and joy, you'll be sorely disappointed.
That being said, I don't mind the idea of putting Jebb's findings to the test. Sure, I could stop at making $105,000 (not quite there yet), but why should I? Why not push the limits of increasing happiness with income? Just think how happy I might be as a billionaire. I'm pretty sure that every earthly dream I've had could fit into a ten-digit budget.
But I'm fooling myself. If increasing income corresponded perfectly with greater happiness, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey would be high as kites non-stop. Honestly, they'd likely be downright obnoxious, doing constant cartwheels and shrieking gleefully at every turn, while the rest of us slobs smile only four times a day.
I won't lie. I do hope that there comes a day when my own business is doing well enough that my material concerns vanish. However, I also hope that as my family and I thrive, I'll recognize the limitations of money and use what I have to build the happiness of others.