Does money buy happiness?
by marie-plesieur on December 15, 2017 - 11:52am
Just think about people who win the lottery. In an instant, their everyday life changes completely and they might believe their well-being will change for the best. Nevertheless, certain studies demonstrate that life does not become ideal when winning the lottery. In fact, it appears that it is the contrary; people take the risk of becoming heavily indebted, plus, family and friends might start taking advantage of their wealth. Consequently, does money truly buy happiness (Norton, n.d.)?
Many individuals confuse money and happiness. In fact, they do not always go hand in hand. Of course, a certain amount of money is necessary for individuals’ well-being: to have a safe place to live, healthy food, a good hygiene and obviously self-fulfillment (University of Nebraska-Lincoln | Web Developer Network, n.d.). More precisely, the magic number is about an annual income of 75 000$ (Kahneman, & Deaton, 2010). This being said, paradoxically, wealth can also create false needs and transform people into compulsive consumers. Consequently, responding quickly to a need with an object, which should create happiness, might appear very interesting. Furthermore, this way of thinking, for a certain time, can become a synonym of happiness. Due to this, maintaining good relationships with others can start being less important. In fact, these compulsive consumers might become more preoccupied about buying a new object and then neglect what really matters. This is a dangerous road that leads to materialism, where individuals believe objects are more important than social interactions and experiences. Furthermore, the compulsive need of accumulating things leads to affluenza, which is an issue that is widespread in modern societies. It leads to anxiety, being indebted and the losing sight of the true happiness, such as having healthy relationships. It is very important to add that in the long-term, the happiness that is created by the object is temporary, because individuals become used to it (Ibid). However, social interactions and experiences create wonderful memories, and consequently, enduring happiness.
Other studies have demonstrated that money cannot buy happiness. Nevertheless, the way money is spent does have an impact on people's level of happiness. In fact, studies concluded that if an individual bought something for someone else, which is the perfect example of generosity, the level of happiness increases. In fact, some ‘‘ researchers from Zurich University divided 50 participants into two groups and asked them to publicly pledge how they would spend a monthly endowment. One group was asked to spend 25 Swiss francs a week on gifts or outings for other people, and the second group was asked to spend it on themselves.’’ (Dillner, 2017) This experience concluded that individuals who had spent the money for others had gained more happiness, compared to the ones who had spent money to buy something for themselves. It is interesting to add that this form of generosity also contributes building stronger relationships between people; it is not the object that will necessarily make people happy, it is the intention that counts (Ibid). As previously mentioned, one of the principal sources of happiness is obviously social interactions and relationships.
- Dillner, L. (2017, November 24). Can money buy you happiness? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/31/can-money-buy-you-happiness
- Kahneman, D., & Deaton, A. (2010, September 21). High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/107/38/16489.full
- Norton, M. (n.d.). How to buy happiness [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness/transcript
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln | Web Developer Network. (n.d.). Can Money Buy Happiness? | Department of Psychology [Video file]. Retrieved from https://psychology.unl.edu/can-money-buy-happiness