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3. Which is more important: financial success or personal happiness?fridayfiver

I'm going to go against the grain here and say Financial Success* is more important than Personal Happiness, at this point in my life. What can I say? This question caught me at time when I'm willing to sacrifice personal happiness to build wealth. Ask me again in 30 years and the answer might be different =)

It's a matter of 先苦後甜; "bitter first; sweet later".

In the grand scheme of things, choosing one over the other is not really the point. It's more important to not let either of them take a disproportional precedence over the other. Ideally, over the long term you'd want both to increase in tandem, but there will be times when one of them needs to be sacrificed for the sake of the other.

Financial success without personal happiness is miserable. People I trust tell me it's true, but I've never known this kind of misery. I'd always thought that if money weren't a concern, I would damned well find it in myself to be happy.

Personal happiness without some degree of financial success/independence is not possible for me. It may work for others, but not me. I'd go stark raving bananas before long if I weren't financially independent or at least on my way towards it. In that way, my happiness is tied to my financial success.

* I define "financial success" as financial independence which is to be self-sufficient in being able to meet basic needs: clothing, shelter, food, health, even though those needs can be met without the exchange of funds. For me, it has very little to do with the actual numbers in anyone's bank account or cashflow. However someone else decides is best for them to meet their basic needs, and beyond, is not really for me to judge.


Jul. 10th, 2004 10:13 am (UTC)
I think it is definitely a cultural thing. When I was little, my parents always made an example out of panhandlers, whenever we walked by one or saw someone who looked "down and out". They'd never proclaim it loudly or do anything to deliberately insult the person. Usually, they didn't say anything until we got home. And it was never in the sense that "we're better than them, period". It was "that's an example of what you _don't_ want to become" and "you need to do well in school if you want a better life".

nearly-broke-but-we've-got-each-other people

We've been there. My parents came to Canada almost 30 years ago with literally a few changes of clothes, a few personal belongings and a baby girl. We were okay, but I was always encouraged to do better for myself in the future.

And I could see it in our lives too. Their marriage was happier when my Dad got his first real career-track job and it also got better when my Mom also got a job. We were happier when they bought their first house and didn't have to live in the basement suite.

We sacrificed the smiling, excitment, in-the-moment "happy" for the long term, secure, stable "happy". Holidays were just like weekends or any other time off. We didn't go on family vacations. We ate out sometimes, but rarely. None of our birthdays were really celebrated, it was just a verbal "Happy Birthday" on the day. We didn't do gift exchanges with all the trimmings; if I ever got a gift, it was never wrapped and never came with a card. I remember being ecstatic over getting a brand new Pink Pearl eraser, no packaging, nothing, just a little eraser handed to me one afternoon when I came home from school. I didn't get new clothes or toys often. I was always encouraged to borrow books from the library instead of buying them.

They made sure to show me and tell me at every opportunity that money does help make things better. Money can't buy happiness, but it can take care of a lot of things so that you can BE happiER more easily. You can buy things to make your life easier and people respect you if you have money. No, that's not absolute and there are many things that have to go along with the money to command respect, but generally, I don't think anyone can deny that it's true.

And that would be why I'm more willing to give up personal happiness for financial success.

I just can't see the point of working so hard for the sake of being "financially stable".

For me, "financially stable" is a part of my dignity and personal image. It's like personal hygiene. I can't imagine being in public any other way. But I don't look down on someone who isn't as well off as I. There can be many different valid reasons for not being able to make ends meet. Likewise, if someone is stinky and sweaty it could be that they were exercising =)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 10th, 2004 10:35 am (UTC)
Heh, it's hard to pack your entire life and background into a short(ish) journal entry =) There's always context missing and people will fill in the gaps their own ways. But that's what makes the conversation so interesting =)


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