Would You Rather Be Rich Or Happy?

March 15, 2007

Today, I was chatting with some of my friends in school when a comment by one of my friends sent me into some serious thinking. We were just chit-chatting casually when one of my friends asked me how’s my online business doing. As usual, I was pretty excited about my online business plans and also the workshop that is currently ongoing.

I went on to talk about how we must really live out of our comfort zone in order to become successful and wealthy in life. Then one of my friend commented:

‘I do not want to be rich. I just want to be happy.’

For one instant, I was stunned. For some reason, I did not know how to answer her. Not because I agreed with her mindset. But because I was rather astounded by that comment. I mean, since when wealth and happiness are mutually exclusive??

Then another quote came to my mind,


‘Money will not buy you happiness’.


 Ahh… Now I’m starting to see the link.

It seems like some people are having this misconception that being rich will actually rob you of your happiness. But is that truly the case? Take a look around, who are the majority of people who are constantly beset by problems? I believe that the majority of problems people face in life(relationships, health, career) are the result of LACK of money.

Today, divorces and crimes are influenced by the lack of money. Now, I’m not saying that all poor people are sad and all wealthy people are happy. I’m not as myopic as to equate happiness with wealth.

But, while I do agree that money will not buy you happiness, I do believe that not having money will not make you happier as well. Hence, I would definitely rather to be unhappy with money than unhappy without it. Though that’s besides the point.

Coming back to the comment, I just wonder how many people also share the same belief? Why can’t you strive to be rich and happy? I feel that people who share that belief are simply having some misconceptions about money.

You see, the true wealthy people do not think of money just as coloured pieces of paper. They see it as tools to fulfil every one of their dreams. The fact is, money itself is just a concept. A spiritual concept if you would like.

And money contains the power to do so much good. One got to look beyond the surface of money notes and see the benefits it can bring to one’s family and loved ones. If you do not think of yourself, at least think of others.

When you keep thinking that you only want to be happy rather than be rich, you’re simply only thinking of yourself. But, the reason why so many wealthy people work so hard for money is not for themselves! The cause is bigger than each individual!

Just take a look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the wealthiest individuals in the world. They could have retired long ago, with the sheer amount of wealth they have built for themselves. Instead, they still continue to work. (though Bill Gates has recently stepped down from managing Microsoft’s operations) Is it because they are so money-minded that even with so much wealth they are not satisfied? Of course not!

People like to associate rich people with being materialistic and claim that these people worship money. But take a look around once again and you will realize it is the people who lack money who worship money. Who woks all day, year after year in a job which they hate, just for the monye? Who is constantly worrying about money? Who are those who constantly queue long hours each week to have a go at the lottery?

Is it those who are wealthy or those who have no money? I rest my case.

So why do Warren Buffet and Bill Gates still continue to work? It’s because of their passion and for a cause is greater than them!Why do I say that? These two men have pledged the majority of their fortune to charity.

Judging by their actions, do you think they are not happy??

Stop holding on to the belief that you just want to be happy and not rich. When you have that belief, you will NEVER be rich. And trust me, you won’t like that feeling.

Money can give you the power to touch so many more lives and fulfil your mission on Earth. I believe we were born not to just lead a normal life. If you want to be special, work for it. Stop letting these limiting beliefs impede your success.

I know only by being rich can I relieve my parents of the misery and burden they face due to financial problems. I know by being rich can I truly help the poor in the world. I know by attaining financial freedom can I have the time to accomplish more of the greater things in life. It’s because of these ‘whys’ that I operate differently from the majority of my peers, and I’m proud of it.

And the next time people criticise you for being materialistic just because you work hard for your goals, tell them to give you their money then. Since it’s not going to make them happy. Might as well relieve them of the misery. Enough said.

To learn more about adopting the right mindsets and beliefs about wealth, check out Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires. If it could create wonders in my life, likewise for yours. ;)


22 Responses to “Would You Rather Be Rich Or Happy?”

  1. Kian Ann on March 15th, 2007 8:33 am

    Well said, Calvin.

    I remember reading somewhere, whether or not you are rich, you will still have challenges and troubles.

    If you are not rich, then it adds on to the troubles.

    If you are more financially sound, you arrive at your challenges in a limousine! Well, I think that changes how you look the challenge altogether!

  2. John on March 15th, 2007 9:18 am

    Hi Calvin,

    Most people had misconception that rich people are materialistic people which I think not all of them are like that.

    I feel that in life, relationship which is love, health and money need to go hand in hand. One of this if lacking, we will become unbalance.


  3. Calvin on March 15th, 2007 9:30 am

    Hi Kian Ann,

    haha i like the quote ‘you arrive at your challenges in a limousine’!

    Yeah I guess people need to go through certain trials and tribulations to realize the importance of money.

    Even myself, it was due to circumstances that forced me to operate out of my comfort zone. And I feel fortunate that my circumstances has allowed me to see things in a different light.

    Thanks Kian Ann!

  4. Calvin on March 15th, 2007 9:34 am

    Hi John,

    yeah well said indeed. Not all rich people are materialistic. In fact, these are the people who are willing to strive hard for their goals. But people like to criticize them, perhaps out of jealousy or simply a way of comforting themselves.

    Continue to strive hard for your goals John! ;)

  5. -:-queen pat-:- on March 15th, 2007 12:00 pm

    Yep yep.. the common misperception of being rich/ having lots of money causes ppl to not look beyond the benefits of having money.

    What John said, that “love, health and money need to go hand in hand”. It just supports Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where in order for you to self-actualise, u’ll need to satisfy all your basic needs and one of them being financial stability/ security.

    For those who are still unconvinced, I hope that u’ll give the matter deep thought and feel free to post replies to them blog, your thoughts and arguments to what the 4 of us have mentioned so far.

  6. Desmond Ng on March 15th, 2007 12:03 pm

    This is EXACTLY what my friend said to me too. I was totally stunned. Many people have the misconception that being rich includes the Higher Middle Class people. Those that draws an income of 20k or so but works like a dog does not mean you are financially free!!! Having a Mercedes and a Big house does not mean anything if you are still a domesticated pet of your boss.

    What we are aiming for and what EVERYONE should be aiming for is not being rich but being financially free, enjoying time freedom as well. A great article and well explained.

    “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you are nothing.”

  7. Jason Ho on March 15th, 2007 2:50 pm

    Good point there bro..

    but lets put it this way…if I had two options:

    – Be totally rich and plagued with unhappiness from family, friends, colleagues, etc or
    – Be okay (not poor) and be real happy

    I think I would take the latter…

    But like you said tho..dun let people dictate what you want to do in life..if your objective is to make lots of money so you can be a better person, I say go for it..

    As long as you do not get rich by backstabbing or through some devious ways… :P

    Reminds me of the show Family Man by Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni…I think I will be happy with his ‘what if’ life eh? :)

    All the best bro!!

  8. Rachit on March 15th, 2007 3:53 pm

    OK, I think everyone here agrees that there’s nothing wrong with being rich. But let me put forth another argument …

    Being rich is only a symptom of the overall goal – to have meaning in life. To be someone important. To get those things that money brings.

    One of the side effects of that is we ALWAYS have to keep thinking about the future. We have to plan & track & progress such that we keep our eye on the future, not the present (think about the secret).

    But the truly happy people in the world live completely in today. They have no worries about tomorrow, no thoughts of the past, they feel good every day … almost as if they are living in a compartment of one day.

    And so here’s the irony … we want to be rich … because that money, and the journey towards the money will make us happy.

    But because we work so hard to be rich, our attention shifts to the past & future … not NOW. And NOW is where true happiness lies. The ability to be happy despite your situation – to feel a good inside when we are poor, rich, sick, healthy

    So, in my case … my ongoing goal is to remain happy without condition … if i’m successful, failing or anything else … i want to be happy with myself. If success, great meaning or riches happen along the way, it’ll be a nice bonus.

  9. Calvin on March 15th, 2007 12:50 pm

    Hi Desmond,

    yup we should all aim to achieve financial freedom. Not because we’re money-minded, but because we see the good that money can do. Keep striving towards your goals!

  10. Calvin on March 15th, 2007 4:21 pm

    Hi Jason,

    thanks for visiting!

    regarding your two options, I would also choose the latter. ;)

    However, I just find it puzzling why people seem to think being rich will actually rob one of his/her happiness. In my opinion, it’s just an excuse of not working hard towards one’s goals. Most of the people who have that belief are those who lead a life without a direction.

    And life without a direction is a meaningless one. I understand that all of us have different direction in life. Whatever it is, we should always have one to work towards to. And money is simply a tool for us to accomplish the greater things in life.

    All the best to you too! :)

  11. Calvin on March 15th, 2007 4:36 pm

    Hi Rachit!

    Actually pertaining to the question in my blog title, I would also rather be happy. Certainly one does not need to be rich to be happy.

    And yes I do agree with your argument about focusing in the present. Anyway, the definition of happiness is really up to one’s own discretion. What is important is we are able to find out what’s our purpose in life.

    As for my case, I want to be rich so as to have the ability to ensure my loved ones are able to lead the life they desire and also to fulfil my purpose in life.

    Cya arnd bro!

  12. ethan on March 15th, 2007 5:49 pm

    Excellent read again Calvin.
    Like what Adam said, We must stop giving excuses and start making things happen for ourselves. Inevitably the ones who complain might be those who are making excuses and yet to see the relationship yet. Or sometimes it is a great way to de-stress. Whichever works for you. Just choose it. Just take action, have fun and make things happen!

  13. Calvin on March 17th, 2007 1:53 am

    Hi bro,

    yup we must all work hard towards realizing our dreams and not lower expectations for ourselves!

  14. Moonaire on March 18th, 2007 2:13 am

    Rich is a subjective term. To me, being rich (in terms of money) means having the money for basic needs (food, clothes, shelter), and having money for necessities such as medical expenses. Those are the things humans need to survive. Money for education is on the grey area. Needing anything more than that is luxury by my definitions.

    I believe in helping people, and have been doing so since I could remember. Most are pro bono, and once in a while I do get paid (even when I don’t charge them), but either way, each time I successfully provide a solution, it brings a smile to their face, and it is that smile, that ‘customer satisfaction’ that pushes me forward.

    Would I rather be rich or happy? I don’t really care about either. I just want everyone else (especially the billions of people on earth in state of poverty) to be happy, and I will do all I can for that smile on the face.

  15. Calvin on March 18th, 2007 10:30 am

    Hi Moonaire,

    agreed. I’m not encouraging anyone to love money, but to love money for the good it can do. And money can be the tool to help us reach out to the poor or anyone else. Even for myself, the greatest satisfaction comes not from when we receive sales for our ebooks, but when we receive emails from our customers telling us they have benefited from them.

    I just feel people should not condemn everyone who strives hard to seek wealth. Look at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation, J.Paul Getty Trust and John D. Rockefeller’s Foundation. These are one of the largest charitable organisations in the world, started by billionaires who have helped countless of needy people. Are we to condemn the actions of these people?

    Different people seeks wealth for different reasons. Most of the time, it’s those who seek wealth for the wrong reasons that do not end up wealthy. They end up being slaves as money. Wheareas, those who believe in Enlightend Wealth, those who believe in giving away of portion of their profits first, are those who end up being the wealthiest and the happiest.

    And on many occassions, it’s those who are perpetually complaining that they have no money that make statements like ‘I don’t want to be rich’. These people WANT to be rich. It’s just that they have not found the driving factor for them to strive to be wealthy and enough reasons for them to act out of their comfort zone.

  16. Dylan on March 18th, 2007 2:04 pm

    Hey Calvin,

    I fully agree. In fact, I think (might have a tinge of naivete) that happiness and wealth move in tandem.

    Sure there lots of rich and sad people but then again just think about it if they can’t be happy when they are rich, how can you expect them to be happy if they are poor?

    And sure, I’m positive there are poor and happy people as well but there are more of the unhappy and unrich.

    If I were to choose, I’d choose to be both happy and rich :)

  17. -:- queen pat -:- on March 18th, 2007 2:20 pm

    Wow! Calvin dear, it’s great tat so many people hv posted their views on this matter! I think tat, based on everyone’s views it seems like most people desire to be happy, regardless of rich or poor. So, i believe tat no matter wat we do, it’s important to pursue our happiness first!

  18. Calvin on March 18th, 2007 5:02 pm

    Hi Dylan,

    yupz to a certain extent does wealth and happiness move in tandem. And as you said,we can always strive to be happy and rich. So let’s work towards that! ;)

  19. Would You Rather Be Rich Or Happy (Pt 2) at The Insights Of Calvin Woon on March 19th, 2007 10:25 pm

    [...] For those who have not read my previous blog post, do read it over here. [...]

  20. Sorry For The Lack Of Posts! at The Insights Of Calvin Woon on March 25th, 2007 2:40 pm

    [...] Anyway, I’m still hoping for more comments for my last two posts. Do read it and let me know your views if you haven’t! Remember, the issue is really not whether you would rather be rich or happy (guess the ans is pretty obvious). But about identifying a cause that is bigger than you and lead us towards fulfilling a bigger purpose on Earth. Go read it! Would You Rather Be Happy Or Rich? [...]

  21. Ivan on March 26th, 2007 10:18 pm

    hey Calvin,

    i totally agree with what you have to say. its not the rich who are materialistic and eyeing for money. its the poor that worship money..

    i guess that statement that i don’t want to be rich, i just want to be happy is their way of procrastinating and its just excuse for not wanting to work for their goals…

    i’mv very very sure everyone wants to be rich and successful isnt it? Its just that they do not want to work for the money. its just that they are lazy to work for the money. And coming out with such a statement to make them feel better…or is it worse? because they can never be successful or rich in life because of this statement.

    Well.. i kinda pity those pple that actually can come out with such a statement because they are just living in self deninal… Sad to say…


  22. Calvin on March 27th, 2007 9:26 am

    Heyz bro,

    the funny thing abt my friend is that she has often hoped that she had more money. But it’s just that when we were discussing about starting our own business that she blurted out that statement.

    Similarly, I’ve heard many people complain that they do not have enough money. But when you talk about doing extra things to seek wealth, they would be hesitant.

    Hence, it all boils down to not having identified a strong enough driving factor. They simply have not found a cause which is greater than them. And most people will never do.

    Average people live average lives because they are only willing to do average things.

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