A lot of us get up each morning to go to jobs that we may not find satisfying. The work itself is unappealing, or the hierarchy and politics are getting to you.
What you’re really working for is the pay cheque at the end of the month. Sometimes, we need that money, sometimes; we could do with less money.
Then, why do we choose to stay in jobs that may not be letting us do what we love doing?
The reason lies in the popular notion that we would be happier if we were richer.
We see this theme everywhere: most ads for products talk about how you would be happy if you bought those products – and to buy such products, one needs to have a constant in-flow of money.
Another aspect that fuels this notion is that we grew up thinking that a good salary each month would translate into a whole lot of savings at the end of our working lives, and we will end up having a satisfactory retired life.
So, does one actually need money to be happy?
It turns money has a ‘transient’ effect on our happiness (Kahneman and colleagues, 2006). That is, money only makes us happy for a while- just like if you shopped today, you would be happy till you saw an ad and felt like purchasing again.
Money makes a huge difference if you are at the income poles – i.e., extremely poor or extremely rich. In such cases, those facing absolute poverty would obviously be much unhappy compared to millionaires.
But majority of the people do not lie at the poles, especially with GDPs of countries increasing each year. So, for most of forming the middle chunk, it’s actually a matter of thinking.
This thinking may keep us in jobs where office politics kill all the creativity in us (Daud and colleagues, 2013). In order to make sure that the mirage of rich equals happy is maintained and people continue in rat-race jobs, people in positions of seniority are offered perks, increasing competition and envy.
What would be the result of this?
Stress, anxiety, depression and a fall in the level of satisfaction, as counterintuitive as that may sound. And of course – the carry over effects: the pervasive bad mood and workload that you carry home and to friends and which sours life beyond the office.
So, what’s the solution?
If you like the work type, join a company with a different culture, or a start your own startup! Did you know? Startups are providing and creating the most new jobs globally, compared to traditional companies. Or start over in a different field of your liking! Many people with engineering degrees in India have quit, joining the social or media sector – it’s never late!
So, in a nutshell, if money does not satisfy us, what does?
It turns out, that depends on the time spent doing things that matter (Stutzer and Frey, 2004). If being richer means you spend more time commuting to and from work, and at the job (because higher salaries mean more responsibilities), then it’s not surprising you aren’t getting happier. Happiness is about spending time reading a book, being with a loved one or just being: after all, money is the means to an end – a good life.