Richard Easterlin, USC economics professor, writes in his “Building a Better Theory of Well-Being”:
‘…adaptation and social comparison affect utility more in pecuniary than nonpecuniary domains. The failure of individuals to anticipate that these influences disproportionately undermine utility in the pecuniary domain leads to an excessive allocation of time to pecuniary goals at the expense of nonpecuniary goals, such as family life and health, and reduces well-being.’
In other words, the rat race distracts us from the other stuff in our lives that makes us happy. We would do well to pay more attention to things like exercise and family time.
Why not combine both? The Amish excel at this. Amish businesses and farms typically employ family members–sons, daughters, cousins, uncles. The work is usually physical. The Amish build their wealth while strengthening family ties and their bodies, hitting both ‘pecuniary’ and ‘nonpecuniary’ sides of the coin at the same time.
Look for opportunities to ‘double-up’ enriching activities. Involve loved ones in important projects. Above all, avoid the money-equals-happiness trap. There is so much more to life.