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The Power Behind a Piece of Paper - Money and Happiness

A popular saying goes: "money cannot buy happiness"; however, the society might have a different thought...

How familiar are you with the feeling of looking at something you cannot have? So close, yet so far from you, knowing that if it was not for one thing – money – you would have been enjoying the presence of the thing you craved so desperately.

The question of money as a source, at least as a trigger, of happiness is a two-faced sword, where opinions split into two categories. Some view money as the main source of pure happiness, whereas others stick with the idea that money is not always the path to a happy life, which cannot be bought by a piece of paper. The question has been addressed in many studies, leading to a negative response from a scientific view; however, the social belief agrees that money indeed can make you happier.

I want it and I got it

If you are a fan of Ariana Grande, you are familiar with the statement:

“7 Rings” is one of Ariana Grande’s most successful singles, written originally as a ‘friendship anthem’; however, the lyrics describe money as a guide to a luxury life, where all your problems do not matter as long as you have the recourses to “buy” happiness with it being ‘the same price as red bottoms’.

It is not a secret that money is a necessary tool in order to buy something, including the things one might view as the only way to improve their evaluation of life. And the more money you have, the wider is the range of opportunities one might have. This, in fact, works as a motivator for individuals to increase the effort put onto making money to allow themselves to live the life fully by using its highest potential.

The concept of ‘money as a source of motivation’ is used in ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, where the American psychologist illustrates the 5 levels based on various needs and the levels of motivations affected by the importance of each level. The basic needs are psychological and safety needs, followed by love and belongingness needs as well as esteem needs. The highest point of self-actualisation concludes the triangle shaped form, describing individuals at this level as those who are motivated mostly to achieve the highest level of fulfilment and life evaluations.

Hierarchy of financial needs

The fundamental needs include the basics such as a shelter and food. Those are the things required to simply survive in life conditions without having much choice. Basic needs are not necessarily satisfied to become happier, but rather to build the foundation for stability and security. Attaining security and safety is essential to live a comfortable life by ensuring a stable wellness and protection from sudden costs and risks.

Then come the social needs, focusing on relationships and reputations within the community to gain respect, love, and a sense of belonging from the others based on net worth and income as well as other demographic aspects, such as occasion and location.

Fourth stage of esteem needs are fulfilled after a particular reputation is attained, encouraging individuals to now strengthen their self-image measured by different accomplishments and capabilities to improve the sense of self-worth, which comes mostly from higher income and social status. The highest point of the hierarchy is the most difficult to reach with only 2% of the world’s population making it to the last stage. Self-actualization, also known as self-realisation, is built upon the combination of all the previous levels, summing up to the overall picture of a person’s success and life evaluations. That is the point when an individual spends money on the things that will bring pure satisfaction and happiness. These may include generational investments, charitable donations or any other monetary activities intended towards causes that will make people feel complete and good about themselves.

Can money buy you 'a life'?

The sad truth lies within the common perception built by the society that caring about wealth and money makes one selfish and self-centred. What people do not often understand is that the world revolves around money, where money is a circulating medium leading the world’s economy, which impacts individuals in many aspects.

Unfortunately, limited re-courses equal to limited opportunities, putting restrictions in terms of how much people spend and how much they can afford. Happiness goes beyond the amount of money one has, happiness comes with personal experience and one’s deepest desires. Money may not buy you the world, but it surely fixes the small shatters from the past, opening new doors for joy and positive experience by establishing a potential of a successful future.

Imagine a child from a developing country with big dreams but small facilities. The child’s dream is to become a musician in London with millions of people in crowds and thousands of tickets sold in the greatest avenues. The child has now set up multiple short-term goals, leading to long-term goals, all summing up to the primary desire, which then turned into a motivation. But how does the child get to that point?

Money. The child needs money to pay for necessary courses and education in the UK, which costs in the range of £15,000-£45,000 per year for international students, not mentioning the purchase of musical instruments and other accessories. The university abroad costs go beyond the tuition fees, accommodation fees, travel costs, visa costs, food and leisure costs are a small portion of what needs to be covered each year of studies.

Along with education, domestic and overseas healthcare might appear as costly and unavailable for some, especially if the disease requires a special treatment - private hospitals with world-class treatment are affordable for the rich.

Relationships and friendships cannot necessarily be bought; however, it can be improved. Spoiling your loved ones by giving them presents or taking them out for dinner will not only make the bond stronger, but it will make people around happier as well. A concert ticket to a Harry Styles concert would be a nice present!

Money matters

The relationship between money and happiness is difficult to measure, but there is surely a correlation between the two variables. It may not be direct, but the opportunities have life changing effects, resulting in a happier mental state and a successful basis for the future.

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