Happiness is a feeling of being in a pleasant state of enjoyment. It is a subjective term and has many definitions instead of a single clear cut meaning. For some people happiness lies in having French fries while others derive happiness from sports.
The subject of happiness is one of the most talked about when it comes to life’s purpose. The philosopher Aristotle said to the extent:
Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.
In this age of materialism, we have coupled happiness with wealth. We consider ourselves to be happy after having bucks in our pockets. Why not learn from those who have bucks in their pockets. By our definition of happiness, billionaires should be happy all the time.
- Are billionaires actually happy in this world?
- Having tons of money makes you happy or is this a myth?
- Is happiness a choice and whether wealth brings us joy?
- What do billionaires think about wealth as contributing factor to happiness?
Let’s look for answers to these questions.
1 – Warren Buffet
Buffet has under his belt decades of experience about investment. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire Hathaway and is worth around a hundred billion Dollars.
Buffet was asked once:
How you define success?
Buffet replied that he could certainly define happiness because ‘that is what I am’.
‘I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year. I get to do it with people I like. They say that success is getting what you want and happiness is wanting what you get and I don’t know which one applies in this case. When you go to work, go to work for an organization that you admire, people you admire because it will turn you on and you got to be happy where you are working. Get right into what you enjoy and you will be successful at it, Buffet said.
In an interview back in 2017, Buffet dished in on happiness as:
‘I could buy 400 feet yacht and have 20 homes and all that; I would not be happier’.
To a point blank question, what does make Warren Buffer happy, Buffet replied:
‘I just have a lot of fun doing my job’.
Buffet continued that he could do anything he wants with money and he had been 400 feet yacht but said he lives in the same house he bought in 1958. The billionaire continued as:
‘And if I could spend $100 million on a house that would make me a lot happier, I would do it. But, for me, that’s the happiest house in the world. And it’s because it’s got memories, and people come back, and all that sort of thing’.
In another interview, Buffet said:
‘Being happy and what you are doing makes a huge difference’.
2 – Bill Gates
The founder of Microsoft has somewhat admitted that wealth makes him happy. Responding to a question on Reddit in the past, Gates said being a billionaire has given him the ‘blessing’ of not having to think about ‘health costs or college costs’; however, not all of us need billions to be happy.
Being free from worry about financial things is a real blessing. Of course, you don’t need a billion to get to that point: Bill Gates.
Bill, who is deeply involved with philanthropy through his foundation recently parted ways with his wife Melinda also commented on happiness in the past as:
‘Sometimes following through on commitments to yourself, like doing more exercise, also improves your happiness.’
The net worth of Bill gates is around 120 billion Dollars and that seems to have made him happy.
3 – Mark ZuckerBerg
The founder of Facebook addressed the class of Harvard and commented on happiness. Apparently, the man with worth over 90 billion Dollars negated the perception that wealth brings happiness. Zuckerberg said:
Purpose is what creates true happiness.
The Facebook chief also quoted a story about John F Kennedy’s visit to NASA space center and interaction with a janitor who was aware of the fact that ‘he was helping put a man on the moon’.
According to Zuckerberg, one should have a sense of purpose to be happy. It implies that if we don’t have a sense of purpose at our workplace, we might find it difficult to be happy, according to Zuckerberg.
In another Q&A session, Zuckerberg reiterated the same ‘purpose’ stuff for being happy as he said:
To me, happiness is doing something meaningful that helps people and that I believe in with people I love. I think lots of people confuse happiness with fun. I don’t believe it is possible to have fun every day. But I do believe it is possible to do something meaningful that helps people every day.
4 – Elon Musk
The Tesla chief is involved with multiple stuff. The man is digging holes under the ground for his ‘boring’ company, manufacturing electric cars for ‘Tesla’ and trying to make humans multi-planetary through ‘SpaceX’.
Musk appeared on a podcast and regretted that the social media has put us in a mode of comparison. He said it in clear terms that people are posting fake life on social media. According to the Tesla chief, people screen the pictures to post on Instagram and others start comparing. Elon Musk with a net worth of over $150 billion said:
‘Happiness is reality minus expectations’.
Elon Musk said that putting yourself in a comparison mode makes us sad.
‘Those people you think are super happy, actually not that happy. Some of the happiest seeming people..actually some of the saddest people in reality,’ Musk said.
5 – Jack Ma
Jack Ma happens to be among the richest in China. His e-commerce initiative Alibaba is now beyond borders. He once shared his comments about happiness:
‘I think life is a journey. You come to this world to enjoy the life, to be happy and healthier. So the day when you leave the world, you say: I am happy in my life, I am healthy in this life. Because if you are not healthy, you will never be happy’.
‘So, I believe happy and healthy are the things that human beings are always looking for. So, if you are not healthy, how can you be happy,’ the business magnate said.
At a World Economic Forum session, Jack Ma also said that movies give him happiness because otherwise both the poor and the rich are not happy. That is also the reason for him to be venturing into the film industry.
Princeton University Study On Wealth and Happiness Connection
The idea of happiness tied to wealth was studied by the Princeton University back in 2010. Economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman formulated that happiness increases with wealth but the connection peaks at at a figure.
That figure is earning $75,000 per year.
The study says that after attaining that figure, any wealth beyond that point does not lead to greater degree of happiness.
‘We infer that beyond about $75,000/y, there is no improvement whatever in any of the three measures of emotional well-being,’ states the report. Please note that the measures referred to in the report relate to stress and different affects multiple factors have on life.
If we analyze the happiness vs wealth connection we have to admit that Warren Buffet finds happiness in career and people. That brings us to the conclusion that as per Buffet, the people you are associated with on daily basis and the job you do makes you happier or sad.
On the other hand, Bill Gates has admitted that being happy has a connection with money but at the same time he has warned that ‘you don’t need to get billions. This means that wealth brings happiness but the amount of wealth needed for that purpose is not staggering.
The Facebook chief links happiness with a sense of purpose. If you have a bigger calling and you are devoted to it, this brings you happiness as per the entreprenuer.
On the other hand, Elon Musk has a different but a simple viewpoint that one should let go of comparison to be happy. His happiness equation is simple yet intelligent
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
And Jack Ma finds happiness in films which means that being linked to arts and culture can also fetch happiness.
In essence, we can say that money buys happiness but there is a catch. We don’t need billions to make us happy. We need a satisfactory amount of money to help us relieve our stress. Moreover, associations, or social circle also helps in a positive manner for happiness.
These factors can also make us happy:
- Sense of Purpose
- No comparisons
Looking for an in depth research into how millionaires became what they are? Read our review of the book The Millionaire Next Door.