Does money make you happy? It is a question that a lot of us like to ponder. At some point, most of us (dare I say all of us?) succumb to the thought that we would be happier if we only had more money. But what is the truth? Can money really make you happier?
According to a Princeton University survey from a few years ago, money does make you happy…to a point. The survey concludes that once you make $75,000 a year, your happiness will not increase with your wages. Why is that?
What Money Can’t Do
Money itself is an inanimate object. It can’t be a friend. It can’t be a companion. It can’t build relationships, or memories, or be a shoulder for you to cry on. By itself, money can do nothing.
In fact, money doesn’t really have any value at all. The only reason we see it as valuable is because we assign value to it. It is simply a piece of paper with some numbers on it. It represents a person’s (or a government’s) promise of value. Without that promise, money itself has no backing, no more worth than toilet paper. Just ask Greece. #toosoon?
The Pursuit of Money
So, no. I don’t believe that money alone can make you happy. Yet, the pursuit of money can certainly make you miserable. Too many of us dedicate ourselves to the endless task of accumulating more and more money. We miss out on family events. We are too busy working to pay attention to our own lives, to recognize the great things that are going on around us. We have given up control of our life in order to chase down an inanimate dream that can never be caught. As we chase that almighty dollar, it never occurs to us that we’ll never have “enough” and that somebody will always have more.
That is not to say that people shouldn’t work hard. I’m definitely not saying that we shouldn’t care about money at all. There are definite benefits to having more money. However, we all fall prey to this magical thinking sometimes. If only I had more I could… But, the question should be this: “How can I be happy with what I already have?”
The Lack of Money
Although having money can’t bring happiness, the lack of money can certainly bring despair. Obviously, the very poor among us, those without food or shelter, struggle each day to survive. It goes without saying that their lives would be easier if they had access to more money so that they could purchase basic life necessities.
Yet, even those of us who are struggling with bills and debt know that the lack of money can make you miserable. You can feel powerless, out of control, and under a great deal of stress. A good break, a few extra dollars, or learning how to control the money you already have could make a huge difference in the level of happiness that you are experiencing.
What Money Can Do
When treated properly and with the respect it deserves, having money can help make you feel secure. It can take away the stress from bills and debt. It can provide you with the things that you need to live comfortably: food, shelter, heat, clean water, etc.
Having money can also help to enhance your happiness. It can serve as a tool for you to use to enjoy life. Money can’t bring you happiness, but it can pay for experiences and items that will increase your happiness quotient. It can help you enjoy a baseball game, go to a movie, or travel the world. Do you need money to be happy and to create memories? No, but it is a nice tool to have at your disposal.
More importantly, money can be a great tool for giving. The more money you have, the more you’ll be able to give and help others with it. That alone can increase your happiness.
Does money make you happy? Ultimately, the answer is no. Happiness needs to come from within. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a few extra dollars lying around.
What about you? Does money make you happy? What are your thoughts about money and happiness? Share them with us below!