Can Money Buy Happiness?
Happiness is defined as a state of well-being and contentment. It can be considered quite complex, in the sense, one’s happiness is dependent on a magnitude of internal and external factors. Now the question this poses, is how much of one’s happiness can be attributed to money. I mean can money buy happiness? Personally, I had never really thought in depth about this subject, as whenever the topic arose, I would simply say no, for fear of being perceived as shallow if I even considered yes. It wasn’t until recently when I was listening to a song, I was encouraged to challenge my original assumption that money can’t buy happiness.
This questioning was invoked by the following line. ‘Whoever said that money couldn’t make me happy was never broke and wouldn’t try to be’. This line really resonated with me and got me thinking about who was actually the first person to say that money can’t buy happiness and why did they come to this conclusion. I mean, if you’ve never been without money, how are you supposed to know the impact it has on one’s mental state. The sad truth about life is everything comes at a cost- money isn’t everything but everything needs money- and without the money to pay these costs it’s detrimental to one’s mind. Statistical speaking, household income is strongly related to both emotional well-being and a person’s evaluation of their own quality of life as money brings control, choice and security, which are considered prerequisites for the ‘happy’ life. Money demonstratively increases happiness levels as it takes a certain salary to feel financially secure.
Having enough money means no anxiety when shopping at the grocery store, going out to eat or paying your rent. Although some argue money to be nothing more than paper and ink. When a man hands a cheque donation of one million dollars over to the church I’m sure the pastor is quite happy when a woman wins the lottery I’m sure it makes her she feel elated. Just think of the people who are dying in hospital because they can’t afford certain operations. Now tell them you will donate the money right away, and tell me they won’t be happy to hear the news. I dare anyone to receive a billion dollars and not smile from ear to ear like a little child who just received all the candy in the world.
And to all the people that believe that in no way money can buy happiness, well how about you give me all your money and we will see how you go with none, then come back and tell me whether your happy or not. Life in the twenty-first century is a fast-paced, consumer-orientated experience where media surrounds us at all times enforcing the idea that happiness is a matter of buying the perfect house, driving the best car, wearing the trendiest clothes and posting status updates on the latest high-tech devices. Everywhere we look we are inundated with the same message: ‘Buy, buy, buy your way to happiness’. However, if money and materialistic objects were the keys to happiness then why are so many rich celebrities on anti-depressants, trying to commit suicide, in and out of rehab etc.
Well, that my friends lead us into the other spectrum of this debate, the dark truth of money and its relationship with happiness. In the end it comes down to the fact that everything that money can buy is temporary they are either objects or experiences that give pleasure for a specific amount of time. New clothes, a new car, a good restaurant: they are all unsustainable sources of pleasure as they all have a short life span. Money is an object just like everything else and objects cannot dictate happiness. It comes for a brief moment but never stays. When we use the money to buy things, we adapt, then we’re on to find the next best thing to make us temporarily happy again and the vicious cycle starts over.
The best example of money in relation to happiness is in the use of drugs like heroin. These drugs provide a kind of euphoria- a high. The high becomes lower and lower as your biochemistry adapts to the new happiness, meaning one has to take more and more of these drugs to get the same high. I’ll leave you today with the following quote, which I believe perfectly sums up this little discussion, ‘Money can’t buy happiness it can, however, rent it’.