“Money won’t make you happy, but everybody wants to find out for themselves.” —Zig Ziglar
According to a recent survey, 71% of Americans identify money as a significant cause of stress in their lives. Of course, America is not alone in this regard.
Looking inside the numbers, we get a glimpse as to why the percentage is so high: 76% of households live paycheck-to-paycheck and credit card debt continues to grow. No doubt, these statistics contribute to the problem.
But money-related stress is not entirely a matter of simple dollars and numbers. When 71% of respondents cite money as a cause, the problem clearly extends across socio-economonic classes. Money-related stress is not just about a shortage of dollars. It is more than that.
Instead, the stress stems from the way we think about and interact with money and the solution is not as simple as “just add more.” This may mask the symptoms temporarily, but the anxiety always returns.
Instead, the solution may be as simple (and as difficult) as changing the way we think about money entirely.
If you struggle with financial-related stress, begin thinking different about money by adopting a few of these stress-reducing thoughts. They have each worked for me.
9 Stress-Reducing Truths About Money
1. You need less than you think. Most of the things we think we can’t live without are considered luxuries to most of the world—or even our grandparents. Think: cell phones, microwaves, cars, matching shoes, larger closets, just to name a few. The commercialization of our society has worked hard to stir discontent in our hearts. They have won. They have caused us to redefine their factory-produced items as legitimate needs. And have caused great stress in our lives because of it. Meanwhile, there are wonderful benefits for those who choose to own less.
2. Money won’t make you happy. It is simply an illusion that money will bring you happiness—study after study confirms it, so does experience. Some of the most joyful people I know are far from wealthy and some of the wealthiest people I know are far from joy. Now, certainly, there is a measure of stability and security that arises from having our most basic financial needs met. But we need so much less than we think we need. And the sooner we stop assuming more money will make us happy tomorrow, the sooner we can start finding happiness today.
3. Money is not the greatest goal of your work. Financial compensation does not succeed as a long-term motivator and the association between salary and job satisfaction is routinely shown to be very weak. In other words, a larger paycheck will not improve your satisfaction at work. There is a significant amount of work-related stress that can be removed by simply deciding to be content with your pay (assuming it is fair). Don’t work for the paycheck alone. Work for the sake of contribution and benefit to others. This approach is idealistic, but it is also fulfilling and stress-reducing.
4. Wealth has its own troubles. There are troubles associated with poverty, few of us would debate that fact. But there are also troubles associated with wealth. Unfortunately, we give little thought to them. As a result, we think the presence of money is always good, always a blessing. And we desire it. But money brings troubles of its own: it clouds moral judgement, it distorts empathy, it promotes pride and arrogance, it can become an addiction. Fears of the wealthy include isolation, anxiety, and raising well-adjusted children. In other words, if you are thinking money will solve your troubles, you are mistaken. And once we change our thinking on this, we can stop searching for answers in the wrong places.
5. The desire for riches robs us of life. We have heard the love of money is the root of all evil. But often times, the mere desire for more of it robs us of life as well. The desire for money consumes our time, wastes our energy, compromises our values, and limits our potential. It is wise to remove its desire from our affections. This would reduce our stress. But even better, it would allow true life-giving pursuits to emerge.
6. Boundaries are life-giving. Orson Welles once said, “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” I agree. And the enemy of life is the absence of boundaries. Whether they be social, financial, or moral, boundaries provide structure and a framework for life. They promote discovery, invention, and ingenuity. Boundaries motivate us to discover happiness in our present circumstance. This is one reason a personal spending plan (budget) is such a helpful tool—the financial boundary forms a helpful framework for life. It allows us to recognize we don’t have to spend more money than we earn to be happy. There is no joy in living beyond your means—only stress. Live within the boundaries of your income. And find more life because of it.
7. There is joy in giving money away. Generosity has wonderful benefits. Generous people are happier, healthier, more admired, more satisfied with life, and have deeper relationships with others. Their lives are filled with less stress. It is important to change our thinking on this topic. One of the most stress-reducing things you can ever do with your money is give some of it away. And generosity is completely achievable today regardless of our current situation.
8. The security found in money/possessions is fleeting at best. Too many of us believe security can be adequately found in possessions. As a result, many of us pursue and collect large stockpiles of possessions in the name of security or happiness. We work long hours to purchase them. We build bigger houses to store them. We spend large amounts of energy maintaining them. The burden of accumulating and maintaining slowly becomes the main focus of our lives. Meanwhile, we lose community, freedom, happiness, and passion. We exchange some of the most basic elements of life for mere possessions. Our search for security and life and joy is essential to being human—we just need to start looking for it in the right places.
9. Money, at its core, is only a tool. At its heart, money is nothing more than a tool to expedite trade. It saves us from making our own clothes, tools, and furniture. Because of money, I spend my days doing what I love and am good at. In exchange, I receive money to trade with someone else who uses their giftedness to create something different than me. That’s it. That is its purpose. And if we have enough to meet our needs, we shouldn’t live in stress trying desperately to acquire more.
Stress has some terrible affects on our bodies. It results in irratability, fatigue, and nervousness. Unfortunately, money consistently ranks as one of the greatest causes of it. But that doesn’t need to be true of us.
Let’s change the way we think about money. And start to enjoy our lives a little more instead. (tweet that)
Dr. P. H. Mishra says
Steven Lynch says
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !
Of Course Money Buys Happiness !!!!!!!
Just another worthless Stupid Article !
It is wrong to project wealth as being a ‘bad’ thing. There’s nothing wrong with having wealth, as long as it was not obtained at the disadvantage of others.
Minimalism is amazing, but is totally disconnected from having the privilege of being rich. One can enjoy being wealthy and practicing minimalistic goals at the same time.
Many of your posts speak about how living a minimalist live can improve your financial position, so I find this post in contradiction to many of your other teachings!
Decide on which message is the core of your objective and stick to it. I find this post rather disturbing, confusing and misleading.
There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with being rich if earned by legitimate means.
Bubble M says
It is hard “to enjoy yourself a little” when after a temporary day of work with late paycheck, and going to the grocery with no idea what more you need during this time. I live in a community home that I share with two young and that’s what helps me pay extras.
Being not wealthy or poor will not make it possible for you to give any to anyone, nor donate. I completely disagree with #2 and #3. I am hanging on the challenges because of it not for the fun of learning new stuffs that keep updates.
I do enjoy this type of article but I would like the author to qualify themselves. I find much is irrelevant to the lone parent situation. I do mean one parent alone with no income but their own (really – no child support $$. No. None), not two separated parents sharing care and/or expenses. Which of rent/mortgage for small house, food, insurance, utility, travel should be given up? Who will feed the children if the only parent gives up some work to make tools and clothes in addition to running the household and raising kids alone. This type of parent is minimalist by default. Is the author able to work less to help kids with homework and still pay the bills after 10 or 12 years raising them alone with a large chunk of income going to childcare just to cover work hours? I’d like to see some specific advice not the general vague philosophy. For example: on possessions, does one not purchase the $50 couch second hand as a ‘new’ item for the home or go without a couch? I am not talking about a small minority of people here. There are vast swathes of people who might earn well but whose essential expenses are more than double other parent types.
I don’t mean that this article and others like it are not valid. I mean that they sound like the authors have the luxury of the contingency in another person or that there are no kids.
These articles are intended for you “us” to view life and TRY to pursue it a different way. Because you as a person are doughtfull on how they work is your problem. Perfect example are the people who complain and go out of there way to respond negatively. Do half that effort to improve your life and you just might get it. Things only happen because they are pursued. Your life sucks, blame yourself. Want to fix it? Then fix it. Simple. It really is that simple. I bet some of you are saying ” he just doesn’t understand “. I do and choose to do something about it.
Maybe it’s possible you can see if you can meet single parents to find out what they do. I’m sure they have had similar questions as you and went out to find answers and would be willing to share their information. At the least, you’ll have the “validation” you are wanting as well as specific advice. No need for you to bash the author or demading to have them prove themselves. Like anything, take what you think will work for you from the article. If you find nothing, then that just means expand your research.
Timely article. Wednesday night I’m giving a talk to the youth kids from Luke 12, “A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions.” You have some great usable points here!
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If Monday doesn’t buy happiness then why is it so fabulous?!?!
Maria Del Corral says
I strongly recommend a book by Lynne Twist: “The Soul of Money”, plus an Internet course by her and her friend Tammy White, “True Prosperity”.
Money is a representation of our interaction with society; the best situation is to reinforce our own self esteem to the extent that we are capable of giving all the treasures of our own capacity, thus allowing a large flow of money to come towards us, and then be unattached to it and convert it in goodness to ourselves and others.
Money is king.
1. If you are sick. Many government plans wont help.you just slowly die…they will just keep you alive because to actually let you die wouldnt be very nice.
2. Usually the people who tell you that you dont need money to be happy are usually really rich people who are actually quite happy.
3. Mmmm HEALTH,WEALTH AND HAPPINESS…the expression has been around a long time
And 4 years later , this is still very relevant now.