They make really good money, but are they really happy?

“Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey

I’m sure you’ve all heard a friend, a coworker or a family member say the following when referring to another person: “they make really good money”.

Let’s think about that statement for a moment.

Yes, money helps provide for the necessities we as human beings all require: food, clothing, shelter. But those necessities don’t require a great deal of money in order to be carried out successfully.

So, what do people mean then when they feel the need to make such a statement about another person? Are we saying they’re more secure than those accruing less? Are they wiser, more creative, more motivated? Maybe.

I guess what always strikes me about this statement, which I’ve heard repeated to me countless times before, is this: you never hear those same people ever say, “they know what it means to be happy”.

Robert Waldinger is a renown psychiatrist and the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development.

One of the universities longest running and most complete studies dates back to 1938 and lasted some 75 years – focusing on adult life and the true secrets to happiness.

What this lengthy study revealed is not nearly as complicated as you might think – that good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

He went a step further and identified three key lessons to happiness:

  1. Close relationships
  2. Quality (not quantity) of relationships
  3. Stable, supportive marriages

Somewhere along the way, our society started measuring the happiness and worth of an individual on their wealth. We spend little time bragging about their character, their kindness or the inspiration they provide to countless others. It seems the only thing we can come up with is, “they make really good money”.

As I said, money does provide for the basic necessities we all need to survive. But it will never provide your life with happiness. No, that’s something you simply can’t put a price tag on.

The next time you find the words, “they make really good money” on the edge of your tongue, why not come up with something a little more original. Maybe something like, “they know what it truly means to be happy”.