Don’t Pit Happiness and Pay Against Each Other

An age-old question still hangs above our heads: What’s more important—money or happiness? We’ve all heard both points of view. Some say money buys happiness because you have more freedom to do as you desire. You can take vacations, explore hobbies, indulge in luxury without heightened worries around expenses. The other side may point out that happiness isn’t limited to money—that people, jobs, experiences, etc. can all impact one’s happiness and bring a lot more joy than material goods. Either way, people have been trying to answer this question for a long time but fail to consider that maybe happiness and pay don’t have to come at the cost of the other.

When working for a company or looking for a new job, pay is important but it’s certainly not the only aspect of a job to take into consideration. Here are some other aspects to think about…

Experience. If you’re already working somewhere and thinking about how your pay and happiness aren’t aligning the way you’d like, it might be helpful to consider changing your perspective. What can you learn from this job that money can’t necessarily buy? What interactions can you have with people that will build your communication or problem-solving skills which will facilitate your professional development for future positions? What can you learn from mentor figures or what can you teach to those around you based off your own knowledge? If you’re looking for a new job, instead of just thinking about the hourly pay rate, think about what this company or role can offer you, beyond the standard benefits package.

Meaning. Finding meaning or a purpose within a job can completely change your mind set about your current career. Do you enjoy what you’re doing? Are you helping people? Are you advancing an area of society? Are you protecting people? Can you teach people things they wouldn’t otherwise know or have access to that knowledge? Those are also things money can’t buy—the meaning you attribute to your job and your role in that job to the people you interact with.

Opportunity. You might be looking at a job right now that sounds interesting to you but isn’t meeting the pay rate you would like. Maybe you’re working somewhere that isn’t meeting your personal financial goals now. However, does your current place of employment have opportunities to advance professionally? Can you take your career to the next level? Are there other opportunities at this job that intrigue you and make it all that more enjoyable?  Feeling like you can grow professionally is a good feeling and provides people with hope for what the future holds. Focus on the growth you can achieve at this job.

Don’t get me wrong, money is important. You need to make enough to pay pills and put food on the table and clothes on your back. But money can’t buy experience. It can’t find meaning. It may be able to buy certain opportunities, but not ones you spontaneously find through your own hard work. And so, it’s up you, the job seeker, to find value beyond monetary worth that can bring just as much—if not more—joy than money can.

This article was written by Michaela Coll.
Michaela Coll is writer, editor, and consultant. During her free time, Michaela likes to write poetry, blog posts, and creative short stories, some of which you can find on her Linktree. When she’s not writing or reading, you can find her snuggled up with her cats or dogs.

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