That’s a big question. That question looms, don’t it? Instead of giving you a flip answer (“$50,000/year”), or dodging the question (“What is happiness, really?”), I’m going to start with a simple answer (“How would I know?”) and then ruin it with an explanation.
Some days, I think all that separates me from true happiness is enough money to turn down work I don’t want to do, so I’ll have time to focus on work I want to do. But because that answer involves money, I think it’s probably bullshit.
More likely, what separates me from true happiness is the ability to accept and embrace my state of being, thereby find confidence, and overcome fear. That answer implies a fundamental flaw with how I view the world, and therefore seems to me more likely to be true.
But, that said, if worry is the weather that keeps happiness down, I should say that it’s true that money begotten of good work could spare me a fair bit of worry. I’ve been broke and happy (truly happy?), yet I know how many of my worries come from not having the money to keep up with my peers and colleagues. Truth be told, though, it’s not like a dose of cash would restore the confidence that I lost, and I think it’s likely that a gulf of self-doubt stands between me and true happiness.
I’ve been swimming that gulf for a few years, though, and I think it’s getting shallower. I’m slowly coming up on dry land. Maybe a few successful projects under my belt will get me to the shore.
I’m just guessing, though.