I used to drink beer. The problem was one beer was never enough. I needed 10 or 20 or whatever it took to feign some degree of happiness. I felt good for a while, but ultimately the numbness wore off and I was left with the core feelings
of depression and despair. I guess the wealth of alcohol didn’t solve my problems.
In America, we are raised to believe that more is merrier, bigger is better and money buys happiness. We spend our weekdays slaving away at jobs to
earn money we can spend on the weekends. We buy houses and cars and microbrews and consume two-thirds of the global market for drugs prescribed to combat chronic sadness and hopelessness. While we’ve been on this shopping binge, our rates
of depression, obesity, heart attacks, divorces, and suicides have skyrocketed. Without money, it’s impossible to thrive and difficult even to survive in the modern world. But money isn’t a god. It’s something to use. Not
something to crave or to worship, and certainly not something that should rule our lives.
Up to a certain point, money is vital to happiness for almost everyone. It can buy food, clothing, and beer and provide for our basic needs. Once a person’s
basic needs are met, though, money takes on a different meaning. The more one looks at the data comparing people’s monetary wealth with their levels of happiness, the harder it is to see any correlation at all once you get past the poverty line.
Surveys of the richest Americans, for example, show happiness scores identical to those of the Amish, a people who intentionally live almost entirely without cars or telephones or brewskis.
Money, it seems, is a lot like beer. Many people
like it, but more is not necessarily better. A beer might improve your mood but drinking 10 or 20 not only won’t increase your happiness tenfold, it might not increase it at all.