Chinese Culture, Money, and Happiness

I once did a family tree for a class assignment and was surprised to discover I’m 100% Chinese for at least as far back as 300 years. My relatives never left the small village where I was born… ever. Crazy right?

For as long as I can remember, my family has told me success is directly related to the amount of money someone makes or has. That if have a lot of it, it will bring you untold happiness, prosperity, and a better life. Every new year around February is Chinese New Year. I get money in gold and red colored envelopes. Don’t ask me what they mean symbolicly or culturally. I don’t understand the purpose. Every birthday, I’ve never gotten a present, just the same red envelopes with money stuffed inside. If anything, it made these events less significant and more the same.

I should be thankful. Not every family does this sort of thing. And hey, oodles of money is cool. Right?

If you’re a lil Chinese kid growing up year after year hearing this mantra, you have no reason to believe otherwise. Money = happiness. But does it?

A recent study found that happiness levels increase with income up to roughly $75,000 in annual salary. After that, there tends to be little correlation between income and happiness.

It states that money gives you financial freedom, new enjoyable experiences (that would lead to feeling happy), being able to help those less fortunate, and also your friends and family.

Does money directly make you happy? Heck no. It’s a matter of what you do with it. I think having money can definitely lead to new experiences, such as a trip to a foreign country or a night out at a restaurant you’ve been eyeing. That resonates with me the most actually. The freedom to do and see more is alluring and I’m curious to see the world.

If I manage to go everywhere I wanted to go, what then? If I bought my condo and paid it off, what then? What is happiness really? Do I continually find what makes me happy and obtain it and arguably with the money I make?

Later world.

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