There have been several studies in recent years to figure out what drives people, what makes them happy. Interestingly the studies always reveal that the main driver is not money.

If we look back to our communities before the industrial era, people were encouraged to go and find a profession that they found interesting and pursue it. Whilst people may have earned less overall there was a general satisfaction with life.

Where we started to get it wrong…

Once industrialisation began, people were moved off the land and into factories, working for others in a somewhat regimented environment. They no longer chose to do jobs that they would have liked to, they began to choose jobs that paid the most money.

In most recent years, all we have to do is look at China as an example. China went through a transition from socialism to a free-market economy starting 1990. Before the free market kicked in Chinese workers enjoyed what was called an ‘iron rice bowl’, their government provided a safety-net including subsidised food, housing, health care, child care, pension and jobs for everybody.

Once the free-market economy started kicking in, people from rural areas moved to the cities. Per-capita consumption of gross domestic product increased fourfold along with living standard. However the introduction of a more private economy has interrupted the iron ‘rice bowl’, and an element of uncertainty and unknown was introduced.

Professor Easterlin asked participants about their satisfaction with life as a whole. He was startled to find that Chinese people’s feeling of well-being has declined. So why is such momentous improvement result in lesser satisfaction? In the cases of the Chinese people it is due to the loss of the employer-provided safety net and worries about job security, due to which there has been a reported deterioration of health.

What really brings satisfaction?

If you have concluded this study in any other western country the same concerns. So what is it that we are looking for? What is our driver?

While many of us strive for more money, many of us become more miserable and disillusioned with the long hours and hard work that it requires, in jobs that we don’t like.

It took me a number of life lessons to realise that money is important to an extent – like ensuring that I can provide a roof over our heads, food on the table and pay bills), but to be truly wealthy I need a lot more.

To be truly wealthy we need our health, family, friends and a balance in our life. We need to be able to follow our passion, so might as well find a job that will help you do that. If you love what you do, you have endless energy, and if you do it right you are rewarded well for it. You also need spirituality and you need to be able to contribute to the community.

Have you ever thought about what would make you truly wealthy?

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