Can happiness be measured in dollars and cents? Do the rich necessarily be happier than the poor? It all boils down to how individuals define happiness in their own context.
To stay alive, some basics of survival is necessary. Hence, while we cannot survive without money, money cannot buy abstract things like love, satisfaction and happiness. I like the article, “Can Money Buy Happiness” that Mr Eric Barker wrote on his blog, Barking Up The Wrong Tree in which he introduced a new book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, that details the research on the 5 best ways to turn your dollars into lasting smiles written by Harvard professor Michael Norton and co-author Elizabeth Dunn.
Critics have been debating this ever-controversial topic: Can money buy happiness? If so, how should happiness be priced? If not, how then is wealth or the possession of lots of money associated with the level of happiness a person can get?
A scientific research done by Swedish psychologists have found that true happiness lies in rewarding relationships and not material wealth. The study shows that a close circle of friends and family is the most important factor for happiness while material possessions including iPhones, computers, being wealthy and owning a sports car do not provide the same level of contentment. Hence, the study concluded that our collective picture of what makes us happy is more about relationships and less about possessions.
However, one cannot help thinking what’s the link between how much money people have and how happy they are? An analyst on this topic revealed that contrary to what most people might have imagined, there was no relationship between absolute income and well-being. Richer countries, in other words, did not necessarily have citizens who had a higher level of subjective well-being. Although we could not deny that within a given country, the expected relationship between income level and well-being did arise: richer people were happier than poorer people. We could only conclude that relative income is crucial for the well-being of citizens living in the same country but might not have any bearing on the level of happiness they experienced.
To this point, there is no doubt that money can’t make you happy, but sometimes money is a good source of momentum happiness. As such, money sometimes can buy you happiness.
Most people have really bad approach to money. It’s just paper, albeit very needy paper! However, money is paper for survival, not a thing to die for. We have to find what makes us happy and persist in it; money will come anyway, even if the thing that makes us happy is selling colourful balloons.
Without money we are savages. We will have to go in the jungle and hunt for food, just like the old times. What this world is making us do is forcing us to work, to make money, to pay bills, to have home, and to have food for us and for our family. Without the three basic needs–food, water, and shelter–we are unable to survive as human beings.
Without hydration, a safe place, and a full stomach there will never be happiness, and that’s why money can buy us happiness.
1. Food and water
Breaking down to the smallest things that are inevitable for survival, we jump to the sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, water, and carbohydrates.
We have lot of choices of how to digest the basic nutrients our bodies need. More paper (cash) is going to give you the freedom to buy healthier products. We have junk food ($10-25 per day) and the healthy meals ($35-65 per day) depending on the costs of the products per country.
The body functions properly and more energetically when we inject healthy products, but those healthy products cost more. By the fact that we are energetic and we have the proper satisfaction of the basic nutrients, we are instantly happier.
Since I personally started to spend more money on food and invest in my health, I am a new and happier man. The body needs more care because we have so many things to get sick from. Our bodies cannot fight against bacteria unless we invest in the battle. Money can buy healthy food and water, which brings happiness.
Some people’s luxury is being able to rest for a day, and some people’s luxury is having one day to go hiking and inhaling the clean air, but people who enjoy living “the good life” will need an excessive number of the expensive paper.
In fact, if you enjoy in the luxury that money can buy, you will never get enough of it. Luxury has so many ways to satisfy a person, that if one enjoys in luxury, one won’t be able to experience all of it. It’s like an endless fight for satisfaction. But to be able to have that satisfaction, we must have excessive abundance of money, which is hard to come by these days.
Money can buy you happiness if you’re the type that gets satisfied from the material things such as yachts, big houses/apartments, golf clubs, Bentleys and Rolls Royce, Hublots, Champagnes (Dom Perignon), caviar and Grey Goose…the list can go for ages.
3. The choice
I’ve came to a conclusion that money being able to buy happiness is a matter of choice. Some people believe that everything comes from money (love, power, respect, freedom of choice, fun). Others believe that money is a thing for survival and nothing more. The happiness that they strive for comes from the things that can’t be bought with money (love, the small things, the authentic friends, someone to rely on).
It’s a choice that we have to make, whether we go for the money and get all the satisfaction for the things that can be bought from money, or believe that happiness is a choice, and that choice has nothing to do with money.
There is a quote from Albert Einstein that impacts my thoughts on this subject: “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” But as I said, everyone is different and the choice you have to make is yours.