I was flicking through some old news stories recently and came across Deborah Hill Cone’s piece in the NZ Herald about her change in perception towards wealth and happiness.

There’s been renewed interest in the media on this topic lately with new research looking at the correlation between happiness and wealth.  This research supports old findings (funny that) that having money does make you happy but only up to a point – we did a piece on this last year.

But, there is something else that influences our happiness levels and that is our age.

It has long been known that we all go through a mid-life crisis (some of us have differing degrees of crisis…).  This mid-life crisis is the bottom of a ‘U curve’, typically dipping somewhere in our 40’s and picking up again in our 50’s and often has to do with our immersion in our careers and a preoccupation with material wealth.

The more mature we get, the more important other parts of our life, like health and friendships, become.  We’re not so preoccupied with just the size of our bank account and material assets.

A few months ago, we returned from a fantastic weekend in Queenstown (bit of a tourist plug here).  For the last decade, we’ve had an annual gathering with some of my past college mates.  We initially got together to support one of our mates with cancer, that weekend  proved to be the catalyst to bring the group back to together.  We have been meeting up ever since, prior to that, most of us hadn’t seen each other for over 30 years.

The first time all of us got together after 30+ years, my wife, Lynda, was amazed (as were the other wives) the way the threads of our friendship were so easily picked up.  It was as if only a year had passed.  And yes, we still thought we were teenagers, that first night was a long one…

What was even more curious, in the context of Deborah’s article, is that no one was bragging or steered the conversation in the direction of achievements in terms of business success or assets acquired.  It was all about friends, family, future plans, having time to smell the roses and enjoy life.  Don’t get me wrong, everyone in the group is still working on and in their chosen business or profession but it isn’t money that is driving them, it’s the enjoyment of what they do.

An interesting comment was made at the second reunion.  One of the ‘boys’ said, “Isn’t it great we didn’t catch up in our 30’s, our conversations then may have been all about how much money we were making and where our careers are heading, now it’s all about what we enjoy about life.”

So yes, I think our perceptions about happiness and wealth do change as we mature, as we learn more about life and what makes us tick.

Thanks Deborah for a great article.