The Happiness Index

For what’s money without happiness?

Or hard times without the people you love?

-J. Cole, Love Yourz

No, this is not a discussion of some hip new ETF that I have found. Instead, I wanted to bring to your attention some recent research that may change the way we quantify happiness, which has all sorts of implications, even for you and your own Freedom goals.

The #FIRE community was borne out of a call-to-action to the middle class to reconsider the things they value most and to come to terms with the fact that a rich life was measurable by so much more than simply money. Bloggers like Mr. Money Mustache and Early Retirement Extreme preached logical frugality, simple indulgence, mindful and constant skill development and a consideration of the impact our actions have on others and the planet itself. It was a call to wake up from our sleep-walk towards endless economic growth at all costs no matter how unhappy and unhealthy it makes us and to re-direct our resources in order to allow ourselves to become the master of our own domains again.

A lot of this sentiment still exists within the community, but in some corners – and perhaps in those that overlap somewhat with the more traditional world of Personal Finance – it has simply become a collection of affluent middle class people telling stories of how well their ETFs and Index Funds have been performing (during the best 10 years in history for such investments mind you) and then reporting their net worth to each other on a monthly basis. A lot of it is hardly meaningful, and seems to have let go of the ‘why’ of it all. I see very few to zero ‘Charitable Givings’ or ‘Ecological Impact’ reports provided to summarize their social and natural capital gains or losses alongside their ‘Net Worth Update’ articles reporting their financial capital.

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