Before the debates, let’s define what is happiness in general. This question is philosophical, but I tried to simplify it. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines happiness as “good fortune; a state of well-being and contentment, pleasurable or satisfying experience.”
Can money buy happiness? There’s no definite answer, but we all know, the way you spend your money can affect your happiness. You even can learn how to spend it to become happier and happier. Understanding of happiness can vary depending on an individual. Someone can say, “I absolutely don’t need a nice house to be happy.” And maybe he even doesn’t lie. No one saying, that you can simply go to the store and buy happiness, but these two concepts are consistent. You can solve nearly any problem with money. Everything can be bought and sold. The only question is price. But it works in condition when effort of earning money is less than joy of spending them.
Good example of how money can make us happier is to give us time. Have you ever thought of when someone mows your lawn or cleaning your house, that you’re buying their time? Meanwhile, you free to do what you really want to, without burdening yourself with thought of what to eat tomorrow. You can travel around the world and get educated, change the world. This is happiness. Lack of money makes you think about more pressing issues.
Each person needs to determine its “course”. Need to decide exactly how much money will make you happy, because you can easily waste your happiness while making a big buck. But the best option of all is find the way of earning with pleasure. Do something that brings you a joy, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Also, money availability is the way of self-expression and self-affirmation in front of the family or society. Most people call that happiness.
Sometimes we can be sad, and the best choice get distracted is spending money for fun. Moments after, it is comfortable again. Shopping is the best cure for stress (at least for women). In the same time, food improves mood, and alcohol can increase it too, even watching a good movie at the cinema can cause a feeling of happiness. You can say these are all small things. But aren’t its small things our life composed from?
One well known Chinese proverb says,
“With money you can buy a house, but not a home.
With money you can buy a clock, but not time.
With money you can buy a bed, but not sleep.
With money you can buy a book, but not knowledge.
With money you can buy a doctor, but not health.
With money you can buy sex, but not love and so on.”
Now let’s look closer.
“With money you can buy a clock, but not time.” Money gives the opportunity to extend our lives by using advanced technology in medicine. You can afford the best doctors, expensive surgeries, nurses, treatment abroad. If you watch TV or listen to the radio, you will discover a lot of ads asking for financial help. People are dying, because of lack of money for treatment. Besides, rich people have much more opportunities to prevent the disease development. Therefore, they feel much better. The elderly people from Europe and America are traveling in their 70’s; they are active and cheerful.
And if you could just see the retirees from Russia or Ukraine… At the same age, if they lucky to live that long, they’re broken by hard life, and getting to the bench beside the building is a challenge. Why is so? The answer is obvious. The first group of people lived their life in normal conditions. They had good food, decent health care, they never had a choice between getting medicine for high blood pressure or a jar of stew for dinner. And the second group could not afford anything from listed above. Result of this affects their health. Way proving it is a simple statistic of lifespan. Except for a few Islands, where favorable climate and good food are available. The length of life in 3d world countries is much shorter than in developed ones.
“With money you can buy a bed, but not sleep.” But without a bed you won’t have a good sleep neither.
“With money you can buy a book, but not knowledge.” I agree, that you can buy education without outstanding intellectual abilities. But are they really that needed if you have big money or right connections? I want to provide an example in Ukrainian politics. The mayor of a Kiev, capital of Ukraine, is a former professional boxer Vitali Klitschko. He has been a very talented in sport but had no proper knowledge or experience in politics. After boxing career had been over, he bought a master’s degree in the specialty “Management of social development” and became a mayor. Over the past few years, “position trading” has become commonplace in many government agencies.
“With money you can buy a doctor, but not health.” Disagree. A good doctor can significantly improve your health.
“With money you can buy sex, but not love.” Indeed, love cannot be purchased. But would you look at those elderly millionaires walking along with beautiful young ladies beside them, who are often their wives. It’s absolutely clear to me, that the guy is very happy. The girl, in this case, is far from suffering too. Because she has material goods coming from this person she doesn’t love. And this is her happiness. Everything has price.
I want to share a private story with you. I lived a hungry life myself. In early childhood, my family of four was huddle in a small dorm room. We shared toilet, kitchen and sinks with other 80 families. An original plan was to stay in those condition for only two years. After that we would be entitled for free housing. That was a life in the Soviet Union. But in 1991 something went wrong, and we found ourselves in independent Ukraine for overnight. New government wasn’t distributing free houses, so we end up living in old place for 11 years instead of 2. With production cessation and factories shutdown, our finances got very short.
Many people started to steel. And we started starving. Most of the time we survived on “soup”, which contained some vegetables in plain water. For the school I used to have only two outfits – one for every day and another one for holidays. I wore the same clothes for countless years. Every year or so my mother sewed an extra piece of fabric or lace on my skirt or blouse to make them longer. Surprisingly, I haven’t been bullied at school for my look, because many kids were in the same conditions as we are. The only discomfort I had in school is with my stomach – it wouldn’t stop bubbling and make embarrassing noise due to hunger. By the age of 10, I was close to gastric ulcer condition. Back in that times, the healthcare was still free, so my parents could take care of me. Otherwise, I could be in different place right now. And back then if someone tries to prove us that money has nothing with happiness, we would laugh with sad tears at that person.
Money makes it easier to solve all the pressing issues, but what I can agree is that they can’t resurrect the loved ones or buy you a talent. If you find yourself in a desert with a suitcase full of money, it will no longer bring a happiness, will become unnecessary and heavy burden. Of course, rich guy can be both happy and unhappy. When the poor is always unhappy. That’s the way we are. In order to feel comfortable, we need food, shelter and confidence in the future. And money gives all of it.
How can a woman be happy if she doesn’t know what she is feeding her kids tomorrow? How can be man happy in his, let’s say, 40’s, when he forced to live with his parents because he can’t afford to rent his own place? All those talks that we need to think about not just money, but about eternal values, are appropriate only is the money already earned. If the man has nothing to eat, then he is not in mood for the literature and painting. He will try to earn his living by all means – by killing, stealing, robbing. And he won’t care if that’s immoral. Love, morality, kindness – all this comes only on a full stomach. It’s a law of nature. That’s why wealthy people tend to be more generous and tolerant. They simply can afford it. Of course, the needs are growing constantly. But if you are short on a private yacht, then you are much happier that the one who can’t buy winter boots.
According to a new research, published in the National Academy of Sciences, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor. If you don’t have enough time you can increase your enjoyment of life by exchanging money for minutes, which can be used the way you want. Researchers, led by Professor Ashley Whillans, the Professor at Harvard business school, began with participation of about 4,500 people in United States, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands. Participants were asked whether they pay other people for doing “unpleasant daily shores” to increase the number of a free time. In 28% of cases the answer was positive. Those who answered “yes”, spent on average 147,95 dollars a month to buy extra time. Also, they felt more pleasant emotions (such as joy and enthusiasm) and less negative emotions (such as rage, fear and nervousness) that week when they have bought themselves a time.
Money provide many of those things that can make you happy, including peace of mind, feeling of success and freedom to live your life the way you want. To this conclusion for another research at Boston Private after conducting a survey of “The Why Of Wealth”, with 300 participants with financial status of $1 million to $20 millions. When respondents were asked what word “wealth” means to them, 54% answered that this is happiness, and 65% – peace. On a question what the money allows them to do, 70% said that it allows them to feel financial independence and freedom. A half of respondents spoke that it makes their family life happier, and 44% – money is giving them a chance to travel more. For some people wealth means the opportunity to be your own boss. It happened with Tom Aley, the businessman, whose income allowed him to leave a high-paying job and start his own business. “Sometimes, it doesn’t always work out, but for me, it’s invaluable,” he said. “It also means I can go to lunch with my wife and it doesn’t have to be confined to a Saturday, and I can see my kids’ games.” Aley told The New York Times.
Each of us has a dream. Name it and think, can it come true without money? Can it be done without a single dollar?
Modern world has reached the point when you can go to the space. And yes, without special training. Space tourism is gaining steam now. Similar was impossible when meat was traded for grain and hay on pearls. All you need here is money, a lot of them. So, if you’re the one who can experience happiness only when the body will be in Earth’s orbit, then money can make you happy. There’s another way – to devote your life to astronautics, but it’s more difficult. There are fewer astronauts than dollar millionaires.
Money is not a happiness. It’s the steps those lead to it.