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Money Success and Happiness

If only I could win the lotto, if only those six numbers I've been taking since 1978 would drop out of that big perspex ball - wow, my whole life would change for the better and my life would be complete and everybody would be happy.

True? Does money buy happiness? Or does success bring far more happiness than money ever could? And what's the difference?

Have a think about a guy from Kentucky the USA called Mack Metcalf. He was a forklift driver who picked up $US65 million in Powerball and told all and sundry he'd finished with it all and everybody else and he was going to move over here to Australia and live the good life? Did he? Not even close.

He bought a small southern style mansion that looked like the set of Gone With The Wind in Kentucky on a "modest" 43 acres, bought mega expensive cars to play with, got sued by a former wife (who saw his photo on TV) for child maintenance, got ripped off by a former girlfriend for half a million while he was drunk, became an alcoholic and thought every one he knew was trying to kill him.

The grog gave him cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis and he died three years later at age 45. On his tombstone it simply reads "Loving father and brother, finally at rest".

$65 million sure bought him a lot of happiness. So money doesn't buy happiness? Isn't that what your mum told you? But, if you're like me you've probably always had a hankering to find out for yourself. If having money isn't number 1, it sure is giving whatever is in first place a hell of a race.

Perhaps it is true that money does buy you time and with that time it is possible to do other things that make you happier. So many of us, like approximately 99% of us, spend so much time trying to make money to pay the bills that anything you may wish to do to give you pleasure falls in to the "too hard, no time" category.

Extending the argument out, do people who live in so called rich countries have happier lives that those that live in poor countries. According to a 2006 survey, the unhappiest place on earth to live was Zimbabwe- well, what a surprise - the joint is a basket case run by a psycho dictator and filled with people who've spent the last twenty years eating dirt. But when you get past that level of abject poverty and in to a small degree of monetary "comfort", does the extra money make any real difference?

Now you'd reckon that a country rich in history and culture and a modern way of life like France would be a happy place to live. No - wrong (buzzer sounds). In that same survey only 36% of people living there said they were happy yet, in Mexico, obviously poorer in most measurable terms, nearly twice as many people said they were generally happy.

So what has this all got to do with punting on the races? Think about it - if you back a winner at 10/1 and one at 3/1, which one makes you "happier"? I would reckon that most of you couldn't notice any difference in emotions when you think about that. So is it the success in making the correct decision that makes you happy regardless of the financial profit? Is it that you were smarter than the mob and able to arrive at a successful decision more important than whether you won $100 or $300?

People ALWAYS think that the "good life" is always on the next level up to where they personally exist. Read that again and absorb it. People ALWAYS think that the "good life" is always on the next level up to where they personally exist.

So does having money make you happy or is it having more money than the next punter what makes you happier? Perhaps out of our primeval past comes the urge to show that we're better than others. 100,000 years ago, it would have given us happiness to have more animal skins than the troglodyte in the next cave. This would of course help ensure mating prospects, which would keep our genetic lines going.

This is not to say there is something strange about measuring our success with money. I measure one selection method's success against another mostly on dollar grounds BUT other things do come in to play like hours of work needed to return x as compared hours required to return y. Because when you think about it, time is something on which you can't put a price. So if one method I use returns a profit of $200 for 20 hours work a week and another returns $100 a week for 4 hours a week time investment which one do you think is the better return on all measures of quality?

US President Theodore Roosevelt was a pretty smart dude. His words: "happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”

My passion in the creativity area is all about finding patterns in racing that bring me a modest return on hours invested. The freedom that this brings me, gives me immeasurable happiness in having the time to indulge in many other things like family and friendships and other constructive pleasures.

Make no mistake - money IS a handy measure of success. But there is a dark side to it. A lot of people tend to forget that money is only a measure. Some people focus on money for its own sake, forgetting what really brings the happiness to their lives.

If you are one of the 5% of punters who make consistent profits from racing, that's terrific BUT never lose sight of what it is really all about. Enjoy life. Have fun while you're here and doing it because you're going to be gone for a long long time.

© 2011

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