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Does money equal happiness? Can money buy happiness? Yes, but only up to a certain point.

We need to eat and we have basic needs that need to be met. We need a roof over our heads. If you can’t eat, that makes it really tough. There’s nothing fun or happy about seeing your family struggle, seeing them not be able to eat, or not having a roof over their heads.

Money can buy those things. Money can produce happiness. It can help you make a better life for your family, which will bring about happiness, but does money equal happiness? Does more money always equal more happiness all of the time? Certainly not. Here’s what money does:

Money amplifies who you are now.

It’s not going to make you more happy. It’s not going to make you more generous. You think, “Oh, I’ll give money when I have money.” How many people do that? They say, “When I’m rich, I’ll be generous.” No you won’t.

If you’re not generous now, you’re not going to be generous when you have money. If you’re not happy now, you’re not going to be happy when you have money. Money is an amplifier of who you are now. Money can buy great and fun things. There’s no need to pretend that we can derive satisfaction from things that money can afford us, but money doesn’t give us happiness. It gives us temporary and fleeting shots of dopamine, after which we come right back down to where we were.

In fact, we might even be in a worse place, because like I said, money is an amplifier. If you are unhappy, very likely, money will multiply your unhappiness. It will put it under a magnifying glass, it’s going to zoom in on it. The difference right now is if you don’t have money and you’re unhappy, you think money will make you happy.

Getting money will make you realize that money doesn’t make you happy.

There’s plenty of people with hundreds of millions of dollars who are not happy. They’re not satisfied. They’re not fulfilled. Money can afford you many things. There’s nothing wrong with going after money. There’s nothing wrong with making money, but if you see it as a potential source of happiness, you’re going to be disappointed.

Money is an amplifier of who you are now and if you understand that, it’s actually somewhat empowering because it helps you reflect and turn your focus inward.

Who are you now? That’s the only thing you can control.

If you live for the next thing—if you live for when you have money—and you think you’re going to be happy when you have money, you’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to get there and realize, “I’ve always been living for the next thing. I’ve always been living for something that’s beyond the horizon,” and that doesn’t teach you to be happy when you get something, it teaches you that when you get something, you now need to live for the next thing.

When you have everything, when you have money, which affords you the ability to buy everything, there’s nothing else to live for. You reach that point and you have this emptiness. You’re no longer fulfilled because you’ve always been living for the next thing. You’ve never been focused on being satisfied and being happy now.

Happiness is a choice. You have to choose to be happy now. Money is only an amplifier of the person you are now. If you’re withholding happiness from yourself until something external is obtained, you’re only robbing yourself of the potential joy in the moment.

Have direction but don’t live for arrival. Choose to enjoy the journey.