Be Happy and Build Wealth

Does happiness lead to financial success?

The discussion of money and happiness usually involves salaries and the happiness that may or may not come after having more money.

That topic has been covered extensively. Here are some recent blog articles on the topic:

I turned to twitter to see what people thought about money and happiness. I asked a simple question: “Money makes you happier. Agree or disagree?” Here are the responses:

Money Makes You Happier Twitter
Money makes you happier. Agree or disagree?

What I want to discuss today is what ‘chrisjdavis‘ was alluding to above: does happiness lead to being rich (i.e. does it improve your ability to hold on to money)?

In other words, can I smile my way to lasting riches? In a way, I think I can.

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want. ~ Margaret Young

We’ve all heard the saying, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” I think maybe another saying should be equally as popular: “the unhappy and his money are soon parted.”

How Our Money is Affected by Being Unhappy

When we’re unhappy, our spending is affected.

My belief is that we tend to buy a lot of unnecessary things on an impulse when we’re unhappy.

There is a real high that comes from making a new purchase (i.e. retail therapy). The exciting feeling we get when we own something shiny and new is real and measurable.

I think we use that feeling to help us deal with the unhappiness in our lives.

Not only do I think we buy more stuff when we’re unhappy, we tend to pay more for the stuff we’re buying. So say the results of this University study: “Sad and Self-Focused Individuals Spend More”.

These purchases all add up to the type of spending that has us living beyond our means. Which, as we know, will not lead to financial success.

Danny Kofke, author of A Simple Book of Financial Wisdom: Teach Yourself (and Your Kids) How to Live Wealthy with Little Money ($4.99 on Kindle), thinks so too. He says that,

“A lot of people are unhappy in their lives—be it spiritually, in their careers, with their spouse, and so on. To combat this unhappiness they buy things.”

He’s certainly enjoyed a nice level of financial success (he’s managed to get ahead on nothing but a teacher’s salary), so he can attest to happiness being at the core of his success.

In addition to spending, it makes sense that our income could be affected by our happiness. I would estimate that getting a job, getting a raise, and getting new clients is much easier for someone who is happy.

Happiness Isn’t a Guarantee of Wealth

Does happiness guarantee wealth and lasting financial success? Certainly not. There are plenty of happy people with money problems. However, I do believe happiness is a core ingredient to building wealth and keeping that wealth.

So How Can You Be More Happy?

What a huge question, right? I’m not going to pretend to answer that one. But what I can do is throw out some things that I think have helped me to be happy and content:

  • Getting older certainly helps. When I compare myself now to in my twenties I see myself as much happier. With age comes a natural contentedness that I think leads to more happiness.
  • Not to mention, you just get busier the older you get. I’m dealing with a couple of businesses, a wife and kids, friends, and the list goes on. There isn’t much time to be unhappy.
  • Focusing on someone or something else (besides yourself, that is) can also lead to a sense of happiness. I’m usually pretty happy when I’m producing something (i.e. like writing this post).

What makes you happy?

Someone I respect a great deal on the topic of happiness is Dennis Prager. He’s studied the topic throughout his career and he’s someone who I think can speak with some authority. Here’s a video he did a while back that explains some of his thinking in this area: Happiness is a Moral Obligation

What do you think? Does our unhappiness affect our ability to have financial success? What are some ways you’ve found to be more happy?

Similar Posts


  1. I liked how you combined data, opinions of experts, studies, and online friends in your analysis. I think people who are happy feel like they are in control of their lives. Often, money makes people feel more in control. That said, it is just a factor in feeling that way. It seems that no matter what the situation is, a self directed life seems key.

  2. When I was working a traditional job at 80 hours per week, I was very unhappy. I was also extremely busy. So I ate out more and spent more money overall. All that overtime I was brining in ended up being spent, and this made me even more unhappy. Now that I’m working a non-traditional job, I am much more happy, but I don’t make near as much money. So, no, I don’t think money can make you happy.

  3. Avatar iwantmyhdbflat says:

    i’m with you – i took a 60% paycut and made the switch from engineering to media, my true passion. It made me sooooo much happier and I’m living life everyday working for my passion, or letting passion work for me.
    That said, I would be much happier once I get rid of my credit card debt next May!

  4. Good post,

    I think that wealth is about way more than money. Having some helps, but I think that all aspects of your life need to be in balance for you to be truly happy. Smiling your way to success is just another way to approach positive thought, or having the right attitude, which really does go a long way. I’m with Chris, be happy first, do what you love and the money will follow.

  5. PT, thought provoking post and thanks for linking to OMD!

    I do think unhappiness can lead to careless spending decisions. Certainly, some people eat more when unhappy, others drink and some spend. All these things can be serious problems and even lead to addiction which someone may need to seek professional help to overcome them.

    Will being more happy lead to better decisions with money? I’m not sure. I think there are a lot of happy people out there that probably don’t consistently make wise decisions with their money. Maybe they’re happy but don’t know how to manage their money well? But generally, I would think being at a happier state in life will lead to all types of improvements which could include less impulsive spending decisions.

    What makes me happy? I’m definitely happiest when working in ministry and serving others.

  6. Avatar krantcents says:

    Lack of money will make me very unhappy. Maintainig my low profile lifestyle does not require much money. The things I find important day to day does not take much money. My only extravagance is travel every other year.

Comments are closed.