Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain

Emma prefers to share her thoughts with a microphone rather than a physical human being, so thank god she has a podcast. Recorded from the comfort of her bed, Emma talks at length about whatever is on her mind every week. Anything really does go on this podcast. Sometimes philosophy, sometimes a random story from 10 years ago, sometimes advice, and sometimes nothing at all. You never know what you are going to get, but that’s what keeps it interesting. New episodes every Thursday.

does money buy happiness?

does money buy happiness?

Thu, 01 Dec 2022 08:01

today we're going to talk about the age-old question: does money buy happiness. now i know you might be thinking, 'okay, emma, you're talking about something that you've kind of experienced.' i mean, i'm no billionaire, but i have made money in a way that i didn't know was possible. however, i don't really relate to a lot of people with money, since i still live a pretty normal life: i do my own dishes, i go grocery shopping, i wipe my cats butts, you know, normal things...all that's to say, i think i have perspective. i also did not grow up rich. i was fine, i always had everything i needed, but i was always comparing myself to my friends who were rich... it made me feel bad about myself because i didn't grow up with a lot of money. i used to think that if i got rich, i would be magically happier. so now that i've been on both sides, i want to talk about it...does money actually buy happiness? let's see. To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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I'm up, and I feel exhausted, but I also feel full of energy. So, it is what it is. I feel weird. Am I going to be able to discuss a topic today in a way that is seamless, in smooth and cohesive, I don't know, but we're going to find out together. And what are we going to talk about today? Today we're talking about the age old question. Does money buy happiness? Now, I know you might be thinking, okay, Emma, you're talking about something that you've kind of experienced. I'm not a fucking billionaire, but I've been really fortunate to have made money in a way that I just didn't even know possible. And so, it might be weird a little bit, in the way that I'm sort of talking about this, almost as if I haven't experienced it. But I think that in a way, I have to. Because that's sort of the way I actually look at it. I don't really relate in all ways to the way that people in my industry in particular live their lives. I don't relate completely. Maybe in some ways, sure, but not in all ways. I still feel like I have normal fucking experiences. You know, I don't have an assistant doing my dishes for me, and wiping my cats' ass every time it poops. And I do my own grocery shopping, like you see what I'm saying? So it's like I'm in this weird spot. I don't know whatever. Let's just keep going. My opinion on this has changed throughout my life. When I was younger, ages 0 to 15, my answer would have been yes. Because I struggled a lot growing up not feeling adequate or important or special. Because I didn't come from money. And I've actually made an episode about this before, probably years ago now, about how upset I was growing up that I wasn't a rich kid. And I was fine, by the way. You know, I always had everything I needed. I had a roof over my head, food to eat, gifts on Christmas in my birthday, clothes to wear, things that I needed for school. I was, I had an incredible childhood. But I was always comparing myself to the rich kids at school. And it made me feel bad about myself. And I felt angry and resentful because their lives seemed so much easier and better and more beautiful than mine. Even though my life was incredible. I had nothing to complain about. I was doing just fine. But I still felt bad because I didn't grow up with a lot of money. And so if you would have asked me in my youth, if I think money can buy happiness, I would have said yes. Because I looked at all of my friends that had a bunch of nice things and their parents drove a nice car. And they had a nice house that was big. And they had multiple bathrooms in their house and their refrigerator made ice cubes. You know, and I was like, you're definitely happier than me. And so at that time, I believed that money did buy happiness. Because when I was comparing myself to my wealthier friends, I saw their lives as perfect and flawless and easy. And they never experienced wanting something or not being able to do something. But then I got older and I started to make my own money. And in the beginning when I started to make my own money, I was like, oh shit. Like this is amazing. And in a lot of ways, it did buy me happiness. Because for me, my independence as a young person was very important to me. You know, I wanted to move out when I was 17. And when I started to make my own money at 17, that gave me the ability to move out. And that's a really cool thing. I'm very grateful for that. And at the time, I was very grateful for that. And that made me happy because I didn't feel comfortable living in my parents' home because it was just tight. You know what I mean? It was small. It was very intimate. I lived in close quarters with my parents. And that was challenging for me. Once I started working instead of going to school and I was working from home as a 16 and 17 year old. I was just at home with my parents all the time. So yeah, I did make me happy to be able to move out and do that financially myself. So I would say that did buy me happiness. And also when I first started making money, the ability to buy clothes more often was something that genuinely made me happy. Because I have always loved clothes and being able to buy things that I have always dreamed of owning. That was incredible and did make me kind of happy a little bit. You know, being able to buy food, whatever kind of food I wanted and feed myself. So I think that when I first started making money for the first time in my life. And I had a little bit more financial freedom. I wasn't relying on my parents. And I was very fortunate to be able to support myself properly. That made me really happy. So I think that that experience in the beginning further solidified my belief that money can buy happiness. But as the years have gone by and I've gotten older, I've learned a lot about life. You know, and I've continued to make money. I've started to realize that at a certain point, money can't buy happiness anymore. Money can buy happiness. Yes. But only to a certain point. And past that point, it doesn't do it anymore. And the point in which money can still buy happiness is not the point that you may think it is. I mean, listen, I think this statement, money can't buy happiness is ignoring so much about reality. If you can't properly feed yourself or clothe yourself or shelter yourself, then of course money can buy happiness. Because not having the bare minimum resources that you need to survive will most definitely make you unhappy. And so if somebody was experiencing a challenging time and they couldn't properly feed themselves or clothe themselves or shelter themselves, then money would make their lives so much better. Their quality of life, if they could have access to those things through money, because that's how you get food and clothing and shelter, they would be happier. So when someone says money can't buy happiness, they're completely ignoring that type of experience, which is a very real experience. But even if you have the money to provide yourself with the things you need to survive, a little bit more money than that can still provide a little bit of happiness. The ability to spend money on some things just for a smile should not be ignored either. You know, some small things that cost money that can bring you happiness might be gifts for people that you care about. Maybe a gift for yourself, if you accomplish something big, home decor to make your home feel personal to you, new clothes every once in a while for a fancy event or a wedding or a birthday party or prom or something like that. Or even fun activities like going to the movies with your friends or signing up for an art class like I don't know those things can all bring you happiness and they do cost money. So again, the statement money can't buy happiness is completely ignoring these types of incredible things that cost money. But I think that the statement money can't buy happiness comes true once you surpass your needs as a human being and your rational wants. That's when money starts to cause problems. I think your human needs are pretty obvious. As I mentioned earlier, food, clothing, shelter, clean water, your human needs that you need to survive and your rational wants are things like, again, like I mentioned earlier, gifts, home decor, a fun new piece of clothing, fun activities, maybe a home that you think is beautiful. If you want to live in a beautiful place, it doesn't need to be big or anything but like a beautiful home that you appreciate and are proud of, etc. Like nothing crazy, not a fucking private jet or a yacht. That's an irrational want or desire. That's not necessary. It's a whole other level. I think there is a sweet spot when it comes to wealth. And the reason why I wanted to talk about this so much today is because I think most people and even me growing up assumed that it was the more the merrier, the more money you have the merrier, no questions asked, no questions asked. But that's only something that makes sense in a theoretical world. In the real world, it doesn't make sense because it's not like you just acquire incredible amounts of wealth. And it just pops into your bank account one day. There's always a reason why you have that wealth. And what I've noticed is that most of the ways that you acquire extreme wealth are not the most supportive of a happy lifestyle, whether it's the job itself or it's the way you acquired it in itself or it's the side effects of having extreme wealth. The point of today's episode is to discuss why looking at mega rich celebrities and billionaire entrepreneurs and all this stuff might just be a waste of time and a waste of energy. Striving for the most wealth that you could possibly acquire is not the right way to look at the world. Because I think that instead the mindset should be what is going to allow me to have the happiest life possible. That should be my goal. My goal is to have a happy life, not a happy and rich life because so many people are obsessed with getting really rich one day. Even me, I even had that a little bit growing up. I was like, come on, but I just don't think that that's the right mindset. Let's dig into it a little bit. So I think that there is a diagram in my mind. Okay, I can't describe a diagram. So we're just going to move on. Literally, I can't describe a diagram. I don't know how to describe it. So we're just going to have to move on. So most people look at very wealthy people in or like, oh, that seems incredible. It seems so easy, so fun, stress free. They have access to anything that they want at their fingertips and life is perfect. Now, is some of that true? Absolutely. But is it all sunshine and rainbows? I don't think so. I sort of have this belief that everything is sort of a yin and yang in life. You know, there's sort of a balance to the way that things just happen in the world. It's like the universe wants to make everything even and balanced. So in the case of somebody being extremely wealthy, yeah, they might have all these benefits. They can go on crazy vacations. They can access whatever they want at any time. You know, they can have anything that they want. But it also comes with extreme challenges. The extreme benefits come with extreme challenges. That's the yin and yang of it all. I think that the way that most people acquire extreme wealth, it usually comes at a price. I mean, let's start with people who acquire all their wealth from their family. So they never worked a fuckin' minute for that money. But now they have it. They were just born rich. They never have to work a day in their lives because their grandpa created the doorknob and now they're just set. And their first car was a fuckin' Porsche Cayenne, Matt Black, Porsche Cayenne with the tinted windows. First car, pulling up to junior year and that, just because their grandpa created the doorknob. We're talking about someone like that. Now, it's not their fault. It's not their fault that they were born into money. But at the same time, it's not our fault as people who weren't born into that experience to kind of hate them a little bit. And be envious of them. The shitty thing about being born with wealth is that you as an individual who are born into wealth don't feel like you deserve that money. Deep down. Because deep down, you know that you just got fuckin' lucky. And that adds some pressure in life. Maybe it adds pressure to succeed 10 times more than you would have felt the need to if you were born into a normal middle class family. Right? You feel this pressure to go above and beyond. You may also feel the pressure to prove yourself as a person, prove yourself to be valuable to others. Because number one, a lot of people might already kind of hate you a little bit. Just deep down because they're jealous. Right? So now you have to work twice as hard to gain the likeness of other people. Because everyone is just a little angry at you just by nature. That sucks. So not only do you feel like you don't deserve it, but now you have all these added pressures. But it can also be depressing because it's like when everyone else is grinding at school, trying to get into a good college so that they can get a good job to make money. Or they're trying to figure out what their passion is so that they can turn that into a way to make money. Or they're going out and learning how to do electrical work with their dad because one day they want to be an electrician like no matter while everyone else is working on their careers. Someone who's born with money might find themselves a little bit more confused because there's not this fire under their ass to go make shit happen in their lives. They already have everything that they need. So it's a lot harder to sort of inspire yourself to go and do something that means something to you at a young age when you were born into money. So that's a handful of challenges there. And I'm not saying that that happens with everybody. I'm just saying that those are some challenges that people run into who are born with a lot of money. But let's say you are an extremely wealthy person and you did it all yourself. You know, you weren't born into money. You made this money yourself. Well, I think to a certain point that can be very satisfying. But there have been many times when this has gone bad for people because a lot of people can lose sight of their initial goal and dream to succeed in a certain career path. That was their initial goal. And usually for most people their dream career wise also sort of goes hand in hand with a dream to help people. I feel like with most jobs, there's a desire to succeed so that you can also help people. It's like I want to succeed in this so that I can support myself but also so that I can help people. An example would be entrepreneurs, you know, who are working on creating a product that will make people's lives better. Maybe that's in a small way, maybe that's in a big way. But creating a product that will improve someone's life or opening up a restaurant that people can have memories of. You know, people can throw their birthday party there and have a beautiful memory there. I think most people start their career with a desire to also help people in that career. But a lot of times when people find financial success, they start to lose that vision and it becomes about making more money. And then things can go sour. You might start taking advantage of your customers to make more money. You might start taking advantage of your employees to make more money. You might start cutting corners, lying to people, taking advantage of people to make more money. You might feel more pressure to innovate and impress society and people you know and whatever. And so you might steal ideas from other people. And none of that feels good. If you get caught up in the hamster wheel of trying to become the most wealthy you possibly can be, there's a really good chance that along the way you might burn someone. You might hurt someone. And that doesn't make anyone feel good. I'm sorry. I don't care if you do things the wrong way you you will feel like shit deep down. So yeah, you know, there are some people who have managed to become wealthy and keep their morals in check and you know, whatever it's possible. But it's pretty fucking rare. So a lot of times the wealth that we look up to and that we envy whether it's looking at wealthy families that have had money for generations or it's somebody who just struck it rich and made the right moves and is now, you know, a billionaire or even a business savvy mother fucker. Who struck it rich and is killing it. There's a decent chance that the way that they acquired that money wasn't 100% purely earned in a way. Whether that's through cutting corners or through never working a day in your life and acquiring that type of money. Another way that you can acquire extreme wealth is by being a celebrity actor singer apparently nowadays, YouTuber, tick tocker, podcast or you know what I mean, a celebrity of some sort, right. I would say that can be pretty awful. It can be great, but it can also be pretty awful because being famous is challenging and I've made many episodes about challenges of being a famous person. So I won't fully get into it right now. But being famous is definitely not all sunshine rainbows and butterflies. The lack of privacy, the fear of public opinion, the harassment, the possible harassment, all of that is what makes being a celebrity the most difficult. And I look at somebody who's super famous like, I don't know, I always use Kim Kardashian as an example. We'll use Kim. Okay. Like Kim Kardashian, can she go to Whole Foods and just walk down the aisles and just look at the new snacks that are on the shelf. No, because they'll be pop rotsy outside. And people are going to be just like, whoa, it's Kim, you know, and she won't be able to just blend into the grocery store. And that can be challenging. It can be isolating. So again, whether it's a kid who was born into money in entrepreneur who got caught in the hamster wheel of trying to become as wealthy as possible. And somehow became a billionaire or something or it's a celebrity who has flashy cars and wears expensive clothes and whatever. It's not as perfect as it looks. These people have a really hard time trusting anyone. People want to be friends with them for all the wrong reasons. They want to go on the Bahamas trip in the private jet with you. They don't actually care about you. They want to go on a shopping spree with you and then say, oh, fuck it, forgot my credit card. Oh, my God, wait, but I need this. Can you just get it from me? I'll Venmo you never Venmo's. You know, even their family might start coming out of the woodwork and being like, well, can I have a check? That sucks. That sucks. Feeling like everyone around you wants something from you is so incredibly isolating. And I know it might sound ridiculous. It's like, if you have that much money, you can just fucking buy a robot and make that your friend. Sure, but we need to have people around us in our lives that have our best interest in mind and that care about us for us and who want to hang out with us for us because without that life is shitty. Okay, we need that. And for, you know, people who we look up to who have all this money, they have the hardest time finding that. The other thing I've noticed is people who have a lot of money stop doing human things. Okay, like, for example, instead of going to a doctor's appointment, a lot of people who are super wealthy will have the doctor come to them or a lot of super wealthy people have never done their own dishes. They have someone coming in every day doing their dishes, maybe even cooking for them, cleaning for them, doing all that stuff. Super wealthy people don't run their own errands. You know, they're not going to the dry cleaner to drop off a cashmere sweater that they don't want to put in the washing machine. No, no, no. They're not doing that. One of their assistants are doing that for them. But can I tell you, that's not a good thing. It's not. Some of my most magical moments throughout my day are the tiny little moments going to the dry cleaners and dropping off something going into the nail salon and getting my nails done in this salon, experiencing that experience going to the doctor's office and then going and getting lunch and coffee by myself after and eating it in the car. Oh, delicious. Like those are things that are so enjoyable going to whole foods and doing my own grocery shopping, waking up in the morning and taking everything out of the dishwasher and putting it away and then cleaning the litter box. Like those little things are really enjoyable for me and a lot of people who have a lot of money give all those responsibilities away. And they just say, bye bye. Those are not my, that's not my shit anymore. But those things keep you grounded. They keep you grounded in reality. When you start giving away those responsibilities, I feel like you lose your human spirit. And that's not good. I think a lot of these people also become depressed in a way because I think once you hit a certain point of wealth, there's kind of not much farther that you can go. Look at somebody like Jeff Bezos. Okay. The guy who started Amazon. Okay, he's, he's up there. He's one of the most rich people. What does he have to strive for anymore? He has everything. I mean, even on a smaller scale, I experienced a level of, and this just like is the most weird thing for me to talk about because it just sounds kind of awful. But I'm going to try my best to just explain this in the best way I can. But when I made a certain amount of money, much less than Jeff Bezos, by the way, for fuck's sake. But much less, I mean, like, you know, a lot, a lot less. But I had a point where I felt sort of depressed in a way because I was like, okay, wait, I've made enough money now where now all the things that I've always really wanted. I can have. And they're not anything too special. I think the biggest thing for me was having a house that I love that is very personal to me. And then I'm proud of because growing up, that was something I struggled with growing up. I had a hard time inviting my friends over and stuff because a lot of my friends, all my friends growing up, all of them lived in larger houses than me. And I was embarrassed that I lived in the smallest home. I lived in an apartment with my mom and my friends all lived in houses that were multiple bathrooms, whatever. And like, I was always embarrassed to invite people over to my mom's apartment because I was like, isn't as cool as what they're used to and I was embarrassed. So that was the biggest thing for me. I was like, I want to be able to have a home that I'm really proud of. And once I accomplished that, I was like, I don't, there's nothing else I really care about beyond that. I don't want to go any, I don't need to go any further than that. Like, I've hit a point where I'm done. I have no desire at this point in my life to acquire more money. And nothing I do anymore has anything to do with money really because yes, it helps, of course, in making a decision in some ways. But I think that I'm at a point now where I'm happy where I'm at. I don't need to make another penny. I'm fine. I don't need to make shit more fancy. Like, I'm very happy with the way things are. But I had a moment where I felt really depressed about that because I felt like I had nothing left to work towards in a way. And don't get me wrong. That is a fucking fortunate place to be in. But it's weird because even though it is such a fortunate place to be in, I immediately felt myself feeling nostalgic about times when I did have shit I was working for. What an exciting time that was for me. What an invigorating time that was. The grass is always greener, I think. I've come to a place now where my dreams and desires just have nothing to do with money or fame or anything at all. I've found purpose again in my life, I would say. And that sort of depression is gone because I've completely shifted my priorities and my dreams and my goals to things that are extremely personal. But a lot of the people that we look at, you know, on the internet who are extremely wealthy, they might struggle with a weird level of depression because it's hard to motivate when you don't need to motivate. When you're working towards a goal because, you know, you need to get shit done to survive, you're motivated. You know what I mean? It still might be tough sometimes to motivate, but you're, you still got a fire under your ass that people who are wealthy don't have as much. It's also challenging because a lot of people start to feel like their identity is being wealthy. And that can cause a lot of anxiety because what happens if it all goes away? What happens if it all goes away? Then what's your identity? That is something that I think these people run into as well. And last but not least, I think the more money you acquire, the less you pay attention to the small things. You know, when I was younger and I didn't have money, like a lot of money, I appreciated the small things in a way that I didn't even realize at the time when it's so easy to lose sight of the small things when you're surrounded by abundance. It's so tempting to buy moments rather than to create really meaningful ones naturally. For example, it's so easy to go to a really expensive restaurant with all your friends and have a super fancy dinner or something. But what might have been an even more fun experience is like going to like a cheap local spot that you love and getting a fucking slice of pizza with your friends. You know what I'm saying? But it's so much, it's so tempting to go and do the fancy shit all the time when the simpler things, the smaller things, the less fancy things are a lot of times just as magical if not even more. But it's so easy to just buy experiences. Do you know what I'm saying? Like when you go to an expensive restaurant and have dinner, that could be a great experience. Don't get me wrong. Okay, that can be a really cool experience. But when you start doing it all the time, it starts to lose its shimmer and it's shine. And you're just doing it because you have the money to do it. And a lot of times when you're going to a fancy restaurant, you are, you're buying that experience. You're paying for that experience. Whereas when you go to like a cheap pizza shop and get a slice of pizza with your friends, you're not buying that experience. You're experiencing that experience. You're going in there. Maybe you know the person who works in there. You're wearing your sweatpants. It's like 11 p.m. You know, you hang out outside on the curb with your friends for two hours and talk. That's like an experience that money can't even fucking buy. Do you see what I'm saying? Okay, I'm losing it. Well, it is 11 p.m. now. You know, it's like that's why I'm losing it because it's so late now in the evening for me. And I'm not normally awake at this time. So now I'm not acting weird. I'm rambling on. I don't even know if what I'm saying makes sense. I really hope it does. Here's what I think the perfect recipe is in life. The perfect recipe is to have enough money to live comfortably. Maybe even enough money to have a little more than that. But making your priority, living an enjoyable life, a happy life, and sometimes living a happy life means having a certain amount of money. But it's not as much as you think. Again, I think that society has it all wrong. We're all like, okay, the goal is in this life to make as much money as I possibly can. Because that is what will make me the happiest. You know, that's what will provide me the happiest life that I could possibly have. Now, that's kind of true in some ways, but it's not completely true. Instead, the way that we think about it should be I want to have the happiest life that I can possibly have. And that might require X amount of money, but it doesn't require being a fucking billionaire. It might not even require being a millionaire. I'll use my dad as an example. My dad is a very happy man. And he's a happy man because he does what he loves every day, which is painting. He paints paintings and he loves that. You know, he loves that. Does that make him a lot of money? No, not at all. But it makes him happy to do that. And it also makes him happy because painting for him is a perfect job because he can make money from creating art that he's passionate about. But he also, you know, has the freedom to create his own schedule. So he might not be riding around in a Rolls Royce on the weekends. Okay. But he can go surfing every day if he wants because he is his own boss. And that's what he loves to do. So you see what I'm saying? My dad is such a great example of this. He made his goal to live a happy life. And so for him, that looks the way I just described. It's not he is less concerned about making money and he's more concerned about just creating a life that makes sense for him. That makes him happy. And I think that that's the goal that we should have to figure out the perfect formula for our own happy life and not just focus on where the money comes in. You know, like let's just make as much money as we possibly can. I don't think so. To a certain point, maybe so. But there's a bigger picture going on. Anyway, I need to go to bed now because now now it's getting bad. It's like it's 11 p.m. I need to go to bed. I need to wrap this up. The moral of the story is money can buy happiness, but only sometimes. Anyway, as always, let me know what you think. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Am I out of touch? When I talk about some of these things, please let me know. Twitter is at AG podcast. Instagram is at anything goes. I appreciate you guys so much for listening and hanging out with me. It's always a pleasure. You guys are the best. And I'll talk to you next week, I guess. Alright, bye.