Recently, I talked to many people surrounding me, friends, co-workers and new acquaintances. Somehow, we often quickly ended up talking about money. During those conversations, I realised that I changed over the last year. Many changes have happened. Because the jist of the conversation for my counterparts consisted mainly of the opinion: "Money brings happiness. Hence, money is the most important goal in life to pursue happiness." For a long time, I thought like that too, but now I could not disagree more.
Why am I in Poland and not in Germany?
Some of the people I talked to, prefer to go on "holiday on demand" instead of a sick leave, some others prefer to work night shifts, to get 20% more salary per night. What am I doing instead, you ask? I try to arrange to have as many holidays as possible. I prefer to work through public holidays, cumulate my holidays and take them off when it suits me better. Because there is one thing I realised: If you don't have time, you cannot even spend your money.
That brings me to the next phenomenon. People ask me: "Matthias, why do you live in Poland? In Germany, you can earn so much more and be much happier." People seem to be confused that I am here. I am not here, to make money. I saw many Poles leaving the country, pursuing a better life, only having in mind to earn lots of money abroad, get stuck in jobs they don't like and return to Poland after a few years when they are "rich". But then I ask myself: "People leave the country for happiness, but the only thing they get, is money. They waste 3, 4, 5 or even many more years just to gather money and work in simple jobs, although they invested in their education, learned foreign languages and much more." Pursuing money makes blind. And those people mostly hate their jobs. So my biggest concern here:
People leave their country for a better life, but in fact, it's getting worse. They don't like their jobs, work 12 hours a day, work in the night, are tired, have negative energy and don't become happy. They get richer, for sure. If you want to be rich, that's a good strategy. But to become happy, I highly doubt it.
Coming back to the question, why I prefer to live in Poland rather than in Germany.
I hear stories from my family and friends, in which I can see, how the working life in Germany looks like: Officially, you have a 40 hours workload per week. Mostly starting at 8am or 9am in the morning and finishing at 4pm or 5pm. But if you leave the office punctually at the end of your official work day, people start telling you that you are lazy, even though you finished your work already before time. You just have to stay longer, to show what a good employee you are. Otherwise, you are getting called "lazy" and your reputation in the company rapidly will be decreasing. I realised that myself working in a German company abroad. I guess, there are similar values. Connected to that, I see at which time some people come home on a daily basis: It is mostly in between the span of 7pm to 11pm. Or I heard people saying: "My life is perfectly balanced. I leave my flat at 8am and return at 9pm. Then I have two hours of private life. That is enough for me. And then I go to sleep."
In contrast to that, in Poland, I very rarely stay longer and I even would not mind at all, to stay one hour longer one day not getting compensated for that. But two times, I had to stay 30 minutes longer at work, due to a conference. And then, I was totally surprised when I was asked: "Hey Matthias, when do you want to take off your 30 minutes you stayed longer?" So yes, in Germany you might have more money, but no time for spending it.
I guess, that explains everything. I might have a lower income than the European average, but I have a life! I sleep for 6 or 7 hours, work for 8 hours and have 9 or 10 hours for my private life. Another thing that is really important: I work in a job that I really like. It's not like "oh gosh, it's Monday again." No, I like to work with those people, I like improving my skills in retouching and spending time at the office. Without it, I would feel empty, I guess. And I do like it, because I know that I still have plenty of time to fill my day with other things I like. That is why I am in Poland: I love my job, I love the work-life balance and I love the possibilities I have here. It is about the attitude you have, not about the amount of money in your pocket.
Coming back to the statement "Money brings happiness. Hence, money is the most important goal in life to pursue happiness." First of all we need to find an answer to the question: "What is happiness?" - Wikipedia says:
"Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgements by a person about their overall well-being."
And undoubtably, as it is a human emotion, it is very subjective! In my opinion, happiness is a temporal state of mind. Once you found it, it does not mean it will stay. You need to take care of it. I think, it can be compared with a flower or even a relationship: The more you stop taking care of it, the more it starts dying, crumbling and falling apart. So now, let's approach this topic from my personal experience:
About 2,5 years ago, I started my professional working life in Poland. In the beginning, I just started somewhere, to have an income after my studies and to survive abroad. So I worked as a tele-marketer and translator in a start-up company on the minimum wage. Then I changed my job to get more money as an accountant, although I studied geography. Landing this job was easy for me, due to the fact that I am a native German speaker. But as you can imagine, I did not like that job. That was the first time, when I started to realise that I come home after work and I felt that I am just wasting my lifetime. I lived during the weekends, because during the week, I had negative energy from work, so I escaped from it with photography, but after a while more with playing video games and watching tv series. I could just not stand dragging myself down any longer, so I knew it was time for a change. That was the moment, when I realised that I want to pursue happiness and not money in my life. Hence, I quit my job and changed my career path again completely to work as a journalist. At first, it was a nice job, since I came closer to what I wanted: Working with photographs. But after a while also that job did not end well and my contract has not been prolonged. I was crashed. I lost my job from one day to another, without any warning in advance. That's the downside of the Polish law, while being on probation. You just get to know it the very last day. That day, my friends, who worked even on the same level in that company, were shocked and offered me to meet up, talk about it and help me. What happened then, was the weirdest thing for a long time. My friends said: "You are all the time smiling. I have never seen you that happy before!" I realised that I was again stuck in something I did not like. But someone else ended it for me, luckily. I obviously needed to be free. Finally, I could live again. I was unemployed though for two or three months, but I survived even with a small amount of money per month. My new gained freedom, allowed me to make one of my dreams come true: Living and working in Norway.