CAN MONEY MAKE YOU UNHAPPY?

Please see another unedited, raw and draft piece from my upcoming book, and this one is on the subject of money:

CHAPTER 10 – CAN MONEY MAKE YOU UNHAPPY?

I have touched on the idea of money throughout this book. This is because it’s a subject that really seems to catch people out, both in terms of thinking money can make you happy and also that it can make you miserable. (It caught me out numerous times and in different guises).

One of my early clients was a young lady named Bethany. Bethany was looking to get a better job. However, it was clear to me that she had some deep (and I think fairly common) misunderstandings around money. Bethany would often mention people who earned what she thought was a lot of money but who were also unhappy. In her mind, therefore, she had determined that if she were to earn more money, she would be sacrificing some of her own happiness as a trade-off. I could relate to that misunderstanding from my days working in an office job! I thought if I got promoted, I’d have to work longer hours and as a result be less happy. The irony was, I often found myself bored in the evenings and spent time binge-watching TV shows online or playing games on my mobile phone.

I said to Bethany, “So you’ve said you know some wealthy people are unhappy. Do you know poor people who are happy?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“How about this: do you know any wealthy people who are happy, or poor people who aren’t?”

With this question it began to dawn on her that she was only seeing part of the whole picture. If she knew people who were happy, sad and in between, irrespective of their wealth, then money was not really an indicator of happiness. She had been carrying around her own misunderstanding around money, and it was beginning to fall away.

After this, Bethany’s path became much clearer. She studied to gain the qualifications she needed to move ahead in her career. Within twelve months she had a much higher-paying job than before and found that she really enjoyed it. Another twelve months later she told me that pointing out her misunderstandings around how too much money would cause her to feel unhappy or discontented was a turning point for her. Until then she was subconsciously sabotaging her earning potential because she wanted to stay happy.

Conversely, another one of my early clients, Jon, was a successful businessman who loved earning lots of money. In fact, he had done incredibly well for himself, had won awards for his business and was making more money than most of his peers. However, Jon was completely miserable and stressed. He felt stuck. The thought of earning less money was not an option, and working as hard as he did wasn’t good for his health or sanity. Something needed to give.

While I did not coach Jon directly on the subject of money, I started to open him up to the role of his mind in his perceived problems. I asked him, why was he working so hard, and what the money meant for him. He told me that it was because he wanted to provide a good standard of life for his family. I gently suggested that he was hardly seeing his baby son or wife and had lost sight of what was important. Realising this led to changes in his behaviours at work, and he started going home on time and spending evenings with his family. Interestingly as his focus changed, his income did not drop. By taking the pressure off himself to earn as much as he did (or more), he became more creative and open-minded. This led to him learning how to delegate certain tasks to his staff, to streamline his own processes, and to become more efficient.

Where in your life do you confuse money with happiness or unhappiness and what would happen if you dropped this misunderstanding?