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money distortion, part two

Here’s the second part of my weekend message on distorted views of money.

2.  Break the connection between money and happiness.

How many times have we thought to ourselves, “I’d be happy if I had _____” (and you can fill in the blank)?  Typically, the blank gets filled in with the latest iPod or a new car or a house with more square footage.   We think if we had more money we would be happier people.

King Solomon was the wealthiest  man of his generation.  Any fellow who can support over 700 wives in addition to 300 concubines must have a few bucks.  If any man could have afforded to be happy, it was Solomon.

Yet in the book of Ecclesiastes we find a man in search of happiness and failing to find it.  The book is littered with phrases like “”Meaningless! Meaningless!”  says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).  By the time chapter five rolls around, Solomon is ready to exchange all his wealth for a chance to be a manual laborer:

“The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12).

This sounds strange to us.  It’s the opposite of what we’ve been taught to think.  But perhaps Solomon has learned that amassing more money is not guarantee of a good’s night rest.  In other words, it won’t necessarily make you happy.

This connection between money and happiness crops up in other ways.  One of the reasons we don’t give more to charity is because it doesn’t bring immediate happiness.  Why do some people not save for retirement?  Because it doesn’t bring immediate happiness.

We often accumulate debt in an attempt to be happy.  (HINT: If you’re in a hole, stop digging!).  Unfortunately, once the happy feelings wear off we still have to pay the bills.