Ladder of success. Why Money Doesn’t Make Us Happy
If you earn more than $250 a month, then you are richer than 80% of the world’s population and live in conditions that kings could not even dream of. The King of France, Louis XIV, for example, washed only twice in his life, and then on the recommendation of doctors, Philippe-Augustus fainted due to the smell of soil loosened by a cart, surgical operations were carried out in unsanitary conditions, good teeth were considered a sign of low class, and chloride mercury was a popular medicine. Only now the World Health Organization claims that people, despite the high standard of living, are tormented by stress, depression, neuroses and happiness is not even visible on the horizon. If we are so rich, why are we so miserable?
The life of a modern person often includes two extremes: an endless routine with short breaks for vacations or the pursuit of pleasure. That is, happiness is perceived as the cessation of suffering. In the first case, a person thinks: I will finish college, or pump up muscles, or buy a car, or win that beauty – and then I will live happily. The flywheel of the routine spins more and more, goals are achieved, but are immediately depreciated by new desires. In the second, life is saturated with surrogate emotions and turns into collecting pleasures: alcohol, TV, computer games, social networks, aimless surfing on the net, shopaholism.
Such a rhythm of life is dictated to us by the capitalist world: it can exist only in conditions of growing consumption. The more unhappy we are, the more we consume. In stressful situations, we eat more, we can fight in aggression, and an inferiority complex helps plastic surgeons constantly increase revenue. The system is designed to make us miserable. So, glossy magazines, social networks, affordable loans are pushing to buy things “we don’t need, with money we don’t have, in order to impress people we don’t like" (quote from the movie “Fight Club”). The main thing is to become better than others, and money is the main tool. Only there will always be those who have more money and a better car. Neuropsychologist Roger Walsh said: “If you climb the ladder of success for happiness, then at the end you notice with surprise,
We are accustomed to a wide choice and consider this one of the achievements of civilization. Paradoxically, abundance leads to pleasure inflation. Too many choices make us unhappy. We are tormented by doubts: did they buy it, did they make the right choice, maybe the alternative was better? Abundance in food makes it not so tasty. It is not for nothing that in expensive restaurants dishes are served in small portions, so they are subjectively tastier.
In the 1970s, University of Michigan psychologist Philip Brickman showed that the happiness levels of lottery winners, paralyzed people, and otherwise healthy people were about the same. This means that happiness is influenced not by external, but by internal factors. A complex of hormones, including endorphins, is responsible for pleasure. Without them, the feeling of happiness is not complete. The body rewards us with endorphins when activities are focused on survival and reproduction. It seems to consume and rejoice – everything is so simple. That’s just the more complex the nervous system, the more specific ways to meet needs.
Here the lion has food, females, territory – and everything suits him. But the human nervous system is more complicated, and animal joys are not enough for him. It’s like in a computer game when you have a cheat code for an infinite number of resources: after a couple of minutes the game becomes absolutely uninteresting. A person constantly needs to overcome obstacles. The more difficult the task, the more effort you need to apply and the greater the emotional harvest. A comfortable and safe life deprives endorphins. How was it before? I went to the forest in the winter for firewood, ran away from the bear, froze, came home, was glad that the bear did not break, warmed up, my wife fed me. And the internal process of saturation with endorphins was launched.
The question of why it is so difficult for us to be happy has been sorted out. So what do you need to do to get closer to happiness?
Build relationships with others
The Emotional Health Study, which was conducted by the Harvard Institute for 75 years, showed that the basis of a happy life is warm relationships with other people. Do not give advice unless asked, and listen more, it is not for nothing that a person has one mouth and a pair of ears. Understanding that people do not have to live up to your expectations, but can live the way they want, helps to improve relationships. Try not to interfere in anyone’s life. After all, if you live someone else’s life, you won’t live your own.
stop being greedy
Psychologist Elizabeth Dunn, after interviewing 600 Americans, came to the conclusion that those who spend part of their money on charity and gifts to friends are happier than those who provide only themselves. And volunteering, proved at Johns Hopkins University in 2004, has a positive effect on the mental and physical processes of a person, slowing down aging.
Psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as a result of many years of research, found out that a person experiences the happiest moments in his life not while relaxing, but turning ideas into reality. Since innovative activity helps a person as a species to survive, working on new discoveries brings great pleasure. The greater the investment of psychic energy in the process of creation, the greater the level of satisfaction. When achieving results in work, a person gradually develops an understanding of the value of himself. And accumulated merit, unlike consumerism, maintains a sense of joy for a long time.
You know, happiness doesn’t depend on money or shopping. This is not the result of luck or coincidence. There is no recipe, there is not even a common understanding of what it is. So far, none of the great minds has been able to fully understand this issue. The main thing is that happiness is a road without end, because there is no point where you get to and understand that everything, you don’t need to go anywhere, you can stop and enjoy. See how children enjoy life. For no reason. They are not interested in the result, they enjoy the process. There is something to learn from them.