Image from Microsoft
I think everybody should get rich and be famous and do everything he ever dreamed of so he can see that it’s not the answer to happiness.
Are you perhaps thinking “Well, it’s all very well for him to say that! Does he know what it’s like to be poor and insignificant and never have the ability to follow your dreams?”
I dare say that to some extent, Bill Gates does have the right to make a statement like that. He’s got it all and has come to realize that it doesn’t equate with happiness.
He may not have been destitute (he did come from a wealthy family) or invisible (he did excel at school and University) and neither did he experience too many physical or material barriers to chasing his dreams. However, compared to what he is and has, what he was and had could be considered significantly different. Not necessarily less (which I think is the point that he is making) but different.
Happiness, it would seem, is an elusive thing. According to Harvard psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, people are poor at remembering when they were happy, predicting if they are likely to be happy and can’t accurately say if they are generally happy. It also seems that people are misinformed about the sources and causes of happiness!
If you asked them, most people would say that neither money/possessions, image/status nor achievements/accomplishments will make you happy. Many will also say that ‘happiness is a choice‘ and that it is a state of mind. But saying that doesn’t stop them from pursuing the big ticket items – money/possessions, image/status and achievements/accomplishments does it? And how many actually attempt to achieve a ‘happy state of mind‘ by means other than the pursuit of money, image and or possessions which they ‘admit’ will not bring them happiness?
There’s no doubt that being unable to provide for your basic needs isn’t conducive to a ‘happy state of mind’. (According to Daniel Gilbert, research shows that beyond a certain level of income, more money does not have a corresponding impact on people’s level of happiness). Most of us, however, are beyond that point which is reflected at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Most of us are striving for much ‘more’ than our basic needs and one of the main reasons for that is that we have confused our ‘needs’ with our ‘wants’. In the process, we have (ironically) forgotten or lost sight of one of our most fundamental needs – the need to be free and happy!
Bill Gates suggests that money/possessions, image/status and achievements/accomplishments are not the answer to happiness. But what is the question? What is the question that we all must answer yet we mostly neglect to ask? Do you know? Can you suggest what that question might be? I’d love to know your thoughts. It may the ‘million dollar question’!
Lucy Lopez – Hire me!