The pursuit of happiness is a long and winding path, often fraught with questions, options and a constant need to evaluate or question. In recent years, this has been a hot topic for investigation in books, articles and studies devoted to the subject, in an attempt to understand this idea that happiness can come from different things, for different people. Many social and cultural philosophies of wellness and healthy-living also offer their guidelines for the topic, but always endorse happiness and its value.
Happiness creates a drive within us to pursuit it, it’s inherently freeing, personally definable, yet comes from a deep human need for things such as feeling included, secure, and of course, forming meaningful relationships. Simply said, happiness can be different for us all, but there are some overriding themes which tend to involve being around other people.
People define and look for happiness in a variety of ways; some may decide to travel the world on a quest of discovery, others may look for new relationships to nourish their soul, some might go on lavish spending sprees, but many are unsure of how to actually achieve or define happiness.
Something that brings one individual unbounded elation, may indeed provide others with overwhelming anxiety. So, join us on my quest to discover if happiness is a state of mind, or something that can indeed be enhanced by other things, like money, ‘stuff’ we can buy or that combination of both that comes from big casino wins.
Epicurus, Aristotle or both?
Greek Mythology communicated two main perspectives on a life of fulfilment. Epicurus said that a happy life is one of the short-term high, instant gratification and hedonistic pursuits, endorsing a world of pleasure and adrenaline. This is the 'short-term high' perspective, for example; buying that new car or designer outfit.
Aristotle, on the other hand, said that a life of genuine contentment is routed in virtuous activities, that are fundamentally purposeful. Social contribution therefore equates to true eudemonia. Basically, on the flip side, this theory suggests happiness comes from living a life of purpose.
In 2011 the United Nations passed 'The Happiness Resolution', asking all countries of the world to focus more on wellbeing to improve quality of life. Bhutan fundamentally embrace the Gross National Happiness index which focuses on wellbeing rather than on Gross Domestic Profit (GDP).
Money has its place in creating our happiness, according to Meik Wiking of the University of Copenhagen's 'Happiness Research Institute'. In fact, Meik says: “If money and happiness were to describe their relationship on Facebook, it would read; its complicated.” He talks about a range of factors that contribute to the bigger picture, including; money, health, freedom, trust, kindness and relationships.
Generally speaking in richer countries, people are happier, but that is not to say there is a direct correlation between a healthy mind and a healthy Bitcoin balance. Or is there?
Moreover, the connection is likely to be related to unhappiness, directly associated with a lack of money. As Meik states in his book 'The Little Book of Lykke: The Danish search for the World's Happiest People': “When money means that we can put food on the table, have a roof over our head and support our children, money has the power to turn misery into happiness.”
Objectivity comes naturally to many of us, therefore we probably must mention that many theorists say truly sustained happiness derives from both hedonistic and purposeful actions. Dr Tim Houlding suggests one must, “find a balance that works knowing that everything changes.” Both Epicurus and Aristotle were right, happiness can be routed in both short-term highs and purposeful living.
Pro-social spending: Spend your money 'well'
With big winnings and financial accumulation comes a certain excitement and inherent responsibility, relating not only to which materials goods can be purchased, but what experiences can be enjoyed, and what societal changes can take place.
Leaning slightly towards Aristotle's perspective, we learn that experiences are more likely to make us happy, as they feed our sense of identity and purpose. So, take that trip, book that retreat, do that course and use your Bitcoin casino winnings to enhance your life!
These purchases bring us closer to other people, which according to the Japanese philosophy 'Ikigai' is a major factor in living a healthy and happy life. In their book 'Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life', Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles discuss the premise of this culturally anthropological outlook, which encompasses understanding yourself, your passion, mission, vocation and ultimately profession.
Thankfully, money cannot directly 'purchase' these things, but spent carefully, can indeed give us the opportunity to search for greater meaning in life, rather than being caught in the tediousness of a financially deficient existence.
Money provides choice, freedom and progression
Though big casino wins certainly don't buy happiness - a notion advocated by many. There are some financially 'rich' people who are totally miserable and those with the smallest of bank balances who exude a delightfully carefree disposition.
However, money can offer a number of secondary benefits beyond the realms of that Miami Blue Porsche 911 Targa; a debt free life, reduction of daily stress and financial confidence.
Education offers a route to self-development, career enhancement and personal enquiry. Whether you're a kinaesthetic, auditory or visual learner, gathering knowledge about the world we live in and making your contribution is a gift. Use some of your finances to explore and indulge your educational curiosities.
If something brings you pleasure and you wish to indulge yourself with some retail therapy, go and enjoy it! The key however, for sustaining those initial endorphins, lies within turning your new-found wealth into something that involves lasting emotional prosperity. Use your financial fortune for the short and long-term quality of life. Invest in yourself, in society and those you love.
A truly fulfilling life is rich with people, love, relationships, family, creativity, hope, social interaction and kindness; physical activity, healthy diets, secure abodes, the freedom to travel, education and many other factors are also important.
Money can and will contribute to a number of these factors, so spend wisely, live fully and share unconditionally for a happy and fulfilling life. Play responsibly, have fun and dream big!
Words: David Bailey-Lauring