At what cost do we put our happiness?
By Anna Whittaker
We use money every day, it is the source of almost everything in our lives, it can bring us our dreams and our favourite things but also can be the root of many problems. There is also the idea of what happiness is and a consideration that this varies between people and through time. In this current economic environment, we are seeing where it feels like the price of everything is just sky rocketing, and the things we buy to make us happy seem to be getting more and more expensive and out of reach leading us to question; can money really make us happy?
What is happiness?
In order to investigate this age-old question on whether money can buy happiness, we need to first think about want happiness is and how we perceive it. The Oxford dictionary states happiness to be a feeling of being happy. The subjectiveness of this adds a layer difficulty to answering our question as the amount of money that one person would believe would make them happy will be different from another’s. We also need to acknowledge that people change, things that bring us joy one day could cause anger the next.
On Initial thought
Picture this, you wake up one morning, a day like no other, go about your day and stop at the petrol station to buy some fuel. Whist paying you pick up a lottery ticket, you never seem to be lucky, but there’s always that supper small chance that you just maybe could. The rest of you week goes as normal, and you forget about it until you find the ticket loose at the bottom of your bag while you search for your keys. In the 20 seconds that your wating for the kettle to boil you check your numbers on your phone. And there all there. Every. Single. One.
Within a week you’re a millionaire, £50 million in your bank. The world is your oyster. You couldn’t be happier right?
The idea of having such a large amount of money is the dream, you could do anything: you could book your dream holiday, buy that designer bag or pair of shoes you’ve always wanted, move out of your small dingy flat into your perfect house. The options are endless. Let alone the dreams, any bill or fines needing to be paid would be gone and all your money problems gone. It’s almost a commercialisation on happiness where brands are trying to sell people their dreams and happiness.
When anyone is first asked the question of if money could buy them happiness; yes is generally what people say. Especially in this modern capitalistic society where money can give you almost anything, peoples initially tend to think that it can solve their problems and bring them happiness, opening the door to our dreams and desires.
Approaching this thought differently when people are suffering in poverty, money is the only thing that can bring them out of that in the long term. It can take them out of their lives of suffering into happier lives where they no longer have to worry about where their next meal comes from or if they’ll by cold tonight. They have achieved their basic needs to survive and be happy.
But can it last?
Once people’s basic needs have been met, they are healthy, comfortable and have a substantial roof over their heads, is that satisfactory? Their must be a point where we are content and what made us happy before looses it novelty.
When ‘money is no object’ spending money looses its initial ability to bring joy to someone. Before, buying something you really want and have saved up for may have had the ability to bring lots of happiness to a person, but when you have the ability to buy whatever you want, whenever you want dose those lose the ability to bring you that happiness. .
The human nature forces us to want more, to repeat that feeling of being happy over and over again, so when spending money to find that joy no longer works, what would we be left with to find that happiness? These escalations in our expectations is only natural, but leaves people feeling dissatisfied and further from happiness than they possibly started with. In multiple studies, it has been shown that in the long term, people who had come into money for example winning the lottery, did not feel happier.
Happiness is in the eye of the beholder, weather it can be bought or not is completely their opinion. Yes money can bring people out of poverty, into a new safe and joyous life. But it can also lead people to a point where no matter what materialistic things and holidays they have, they cannot meet the ever increasing expectations they have developed though the content access to what ever they want as seen with the lottery winners.