Connections between money, possessions and happiness

I am gearing up to lead a discussion this Sunday at Sanctuary about possessions and happiness. Jesus warns people not to make too much of money. For the typical American -- even the typical American Christian -- this message falls on deaf ears.


I will argue that Jesus wasn't out to require his followers to live in poverty. Rather, he wanted them to be acutely aware how a desire for money and all it can buy us can worm its way into our hearts and become the key by which we make decisions. Be free, and you can live free -- and this can happen for both the poor and the rich.

Personal finance write J. D. Roth holds a fascinating discussion of the relationship between possessions and happiness in the first chapter of his book, Your Money: The Missing Manual. He makes the argument that whereas money can help bring you limited happiness, money's impact on happiness is actually much smaller than we usually think. After you have gained the basic necessities of food, safety, clothing and shelter, the amount of additional happiness money can buy you drops dramatically. Buying that fourteenth shirt or top to put in your closet simply doesn't make you that happy for that long. (Shh. Don't tell the advertising industry we have figured this out.)

The key to being happy? Roth says to figure out what "Enough" is for you. More on that in coming days...

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