Why Money Isn’t Going to Make Your Life Better
As society has developed and as our knowledge of human psychology has grown, it has become increasingly obvious that having money by itself does not ensure happiness. Money has limitations when it comes to bringing about long-lasting enjoyment, despite the fact that it is unquestionably important in modern life. This essay will explore the complexities of human emotions and well-being as it delves into the reasons why money doesn’t make people happy. The transient nature of material goods, the impact of social comparison, and the significance of addressing psychological needs all serve to highlight the fact that happiness is a complex idea that cannot be purely linked to financial means.
One of the things that people strive for most in life is happiness. Happiness, however, is a difficult term to define because it depends on the individual and their cultural, religious, and social upbringing. With that being said, it is a fact that Nordic countries are happier overall than all other countries. How would this statistic even be measured? Such a subjective topic couldn’t possibly have one definition, but it is simpler than we all think. The definition of happiness should be feeling fulfilled in one’s life.
A sensation of contentment, pleasure, and satisfaction are characteristics of happiness as an emotion or a mood. When people feel happy about their lives, their relationships, and their accomplishments, they enter a positive state of being. It’s true that there are tons of different causes of happiness so why are Nordic countries much happier than others? Since it is subjective the people conducting the study must have asked individual people how happy they feel and found the average happiness level for each country. According to the article “Why do People in Nordic countries consistently rank as the happiest and what can we learn from them” the author states “Not all relatively rich nations are happy like the Nordics. Singapore, one of the wealthiest in the world, sits at 25th place, while Saudi Arabia, the world’s seventh richest, sits at 26th.” (Camille Bello). Clearly, although money may give people feelings of contentment it doesn’t have a big effect on people’s happiness since the richest countries in the world were very low on the happiness chart. Money doesn’t fulfill one’s life, meaning that can’t be what makes people happy you may feel joy to have money but that isn’t being truly happy.
In the article, they discuss other reasons for people feeling happier in these countries. One of the reasons being the country is small and that being around happier people will help increase one’s own happiness level. They also explain that the government in these countries does a very good job of keeping quality institutions that help people feel secure and comfortable. It is never really answered by these countries are happier than others, but the simple obvious answer is that these people feel more fulfilled in their life. They live in a comfortable environment that is safe for families, they are around good energy all the time, and they don’t need to rely on money to feel joy. Nordic people are the best example of what living a happy life looks like Feeling fulfilled in the most important parts of life.
the significance of purpose and meaning. Happiness is frequently equated with having a sense of direction and purpose in life, whether that is achieved through pursuing a career, participating in hobbies, or volunteering. Individuals who feel that their lives matter and have meaning are more likely to be happy and healthy than those who feel meaningless and lost in life.
One of the most influential and famous philosophers, Aristotle, stated that “He who is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.” According to the article, Aristotle: pioneer of happiness it is explained that Aristotle thought that the ultimate goal in life is happiness. He described happiness as the state of being that comes from leading a good life, which includes acting morally admirably and living in accordance with reason. He also explained happiness as something more than enjoyable sensations, or things that can be obtained or lost in a matter of hours. Feeling completely fulfilled with one’s life is the essence and definition of happiness. The article states “According to Aristotle, happiness consists in achieving, through the course of a whole lifetime, all the goods — health, wealth, knowledge, friends, etc.”. all these factors’ family, friends, well-being, wealth may be causes of the feelings of joy we get however having all of them together as one is what happiness is, being fulfilled.
Aristotle’s “virtue ethics” emphasizes on developing character and learning specific characteristics like bravery, justice, temperance, compassion, and prudence rather than the moral significance of duties or obligations. Not just bettering oneself but working hard to achieve an end goal and feeling fulfilled is what happiness truly is meaning virtue ethics are a way to feel fulfilled. Aristotle’s theories and definitions of happiness are still relevant ideas today after 2000 years. Clearly, his definition of happiness is accepted by many, however, he also recognized that happiness is very different for everyone. One person’s fulfillment may be something that someone else already has making the definition broader.
In another article called “Happiness: defined” they define happiness as a feeling that improves aspects of our life. They explain how happiness is shaped by genetics, environment, culture, and social forces. Since we don’t have much control over those things, we should strive to work for improving aspects of our life to increase our happiness in other words feeling fulfilled is happiness. The article states “Though people around the world have different ways of thinking about happiness and perhaps even experience it in different ways, most involve feeling positive generally and about life overall.” Being happy isn’t just feeling positive about something someone could think positively about a day going well and still be in crippling depression. It’s more about feeling confident, stable, and fulfilled and encompasses happiness.
Happiness like many other feelings, is no simple discussion. Happiness may be the state of mind that is sought after the most but it’s a “squishy” topic that is very hard to define/categorize. What makes happiness so squishy is that it is subjective from person to person. Things that may make people happier or less happy than others include preferences, genetics, environments, and different circumstances. Not only this but something that may make one person happy might not do the same for another. Because happiness is so subjective, it’s hard to pinpoint what makes people happy, one person may get happiness from raising a family whereas someone else might get happiness from murdering a bunch of children. Super subjective/squishy topic, however working hard for what one needs/wants and getting that satisfaction is a way to, without a doubt, maximize one’s happiness.
Firstly, what makes people happy? There is no simple answer to this question because there are tons of factors that may change a person’s preferences and feelings. Something that can fluctuate so much is very hard to define but it is known that different factors have negative and positive effects they have on happiness. The Environment people grow up in has huge effects on their happiness, if people live in a bad neighborhood with no family or are homeless, they are most likely going to be less happy than those with a home and family. People have different interests and different things make people happy. Some people are born with conditions that effect the way they feel/how happy they can feel.
With so many different causes for happiness, it’s almost impossible to say exactly what makes people happy. Although there are many different factors that go into what makes a certain person happy, we can all agree that working hard and giving one’s all to achieve something will always make one feel good and cause greater happiness. In the article, “Money and Happiness: Income, Wealth and Subjective Well-Being” by Conchita Ambrosio Markus Jänitti and, Anthony Lepintuer it is stated that, “Interpretation and consider that other’s income has an information effect: the presence of richer individuals signals that there is a possibility for oneself to get richer in the future, which increases own happiness even before any actual enrichment takes place.” A little competition never hurt anyone; this is just one example of how working harder can maximize your happiness. Increasing your own assets to beat out someone else may sound egotistical however, it is one way people put their everything into something to maximize their happiness. This concept alone can be used for almost everything, working on one’s own character to improve themselves can make people happy, putting all of one’s effort into holding a relationship or trying to make a family will make people happier, and trying ones hardest to earn what they want, or need will also make them feel more satisfied and help maximize happiness.
If giving one’s all towards an object is a way to maximize happiness, what can we put all our effort towards to make sure we are happy? According to the article simply titled, “Happiness” by, Tony Delamothe, he states, “Embark on a loving relationship with another adult, and work hard to sustain it. Plan frequent interactions with friends, family, and neighbors (in that order). Make sure you’re not working so hard that you’ve no time left for personal relationships and leisure.” This article is stating that we should be working hard on not only ourselves but keeping relationships with the people we love to live a long happy and satisfying life. Love may be one of the biggest factors in being happy, so two people giving their all to be together or make something work is something beautiful that both of parties can experience together and maximize each other’s happiness. Not only this but relationships require maximum effort from both parties, and if love is a factor of happiness giving one all for love is also working hard for maximizing happiness.
Another example of people putting all their effort towards building happiness is the King of Bhutan. According to the article “Happiness”, the author talks about the kings whose priority was increasing gross national happiness. One man put all the nation’s interests first and because of this, all the people worked together with their king to increase their maximum happiness. The article also states, “The best society is the happiest”, meaning that one king striving to make his society the happiest changed the point of public policy together which according to him should be happy.
Finally In the same article, “Happiness”, the author defines the types of “happy lives” there are. Although a pleasant life may not lead to maximum happiness the other two show different ways one can work hard toward maximizing their happiness. According to the author the “good life” is using one’s strengths to stay engaged with what they are doing. Working on oneself and trying to improve will always make that person feel good about themselves no matter how hard the journey is self-improvement is a great example of putting total effort towards something to maximize happiness. The “Meaningful Life” is putting your time and effort towards others rather than oneself. People who give to charity are going to feel better about themselves and feel more accomplished than those who don’t work hard for their money or just keep it to themselves.
Money. A bargaining principle, typically in the form of coins and banknotes, is used as a payment for goods and services. Yet, in our world today, it is the main factor that can collectively be agreed on, and influences the way we live our lives. In today’s society, money has become more prominent, leading individuals to base their emotional state and well-being on income. Although it is argued that money cannot buy happiness, it’s evident that it generates an untroubled and easier way of living.
The motto “money cannot buy happiness” is commonly thrown around without the perception that financial stability alleviates an area of burden in life. When negative events occur in one’s life, whether financial or personal, there is a form of damage control that is performed to make the best of the situation. Money is a form of control that dictates how someone lives, therefore, the more that is acquired, the more control one has over their life events and the solutions that could follow. The article, “Speaking of Psychology: The Stress of Money, with Linda Gallo, Ph.D.” provides the transcript of a podcast with Dr. Linda Gallo speaking on the 2015 American Psychological Association Stress in America Survey. Dr. Linda Gallo highlights the stress that coincides with financials and the long-term effects this stress has on one’s overall health. In the transcript, it states, “APA’s 2015 Stress in American survey tells us that money continues to be a top source of stress for Americans from all economic backgrounds. Now, however, in this last survey, lower-income households reported higher overall stress levels than those living in higher-income households…… First, as we know from the Stress in America survey, financial stress is a very common cause of stress overall and it’s more likely to occur if people have lower incomes.” Dr. Linda Gallo includes the 2015 survey findings supporting that households with a higher income experience less financial stress than a lower income household. With households making a comfortable income, they are less likely to worry about financials such as mortgages, rent, bills, groceries, etc., compared to a household that must take precautions such as budgeting accordingly for basic living necessities. Financial stability gives people the ability to exert energy on other things in life while allowing them to live comfortably, with little stress.
In addition to financial stress, money is also a big factor in alleviating overall stress levels. For instance, a study done at Harvard Business School by Jon Jachimowicz investigates the effects of financial stability and its correlation to one’s overall well-being. In the study “More Proof That Money Can Buy Happiness (or a Life with Less Stress),” 522 participants, each having different incomes, were asked to keep a diary, tracking their daily events and emotions for 30 days. After the 30 days, one of the findings supported that money does and can help reduce stress levels, specifically pertaining to intense stress. The study concluded “There was no significant difference in how often the participants experienced distressing events—no matter their income, they recorded a similar number of daily frustrations. But those with higher incomes experienced less negative intensity from those events.” Although money does not reduce the concept of stress altogether, the amount of income one makes can help fund resources or ways to reduce and undermine the intensity of the stress, whether that is investing in therapy, affording medications, supplements, or even activities such as yoga classes or a gym membership. People with lower incomes are exposed to more stressors and limited to ways in managing that stress, compared to those who experience financial no stability.
Aside from stress, money is commonly used as a gateway in legal practice and the law. In the United States, the Justice System revolves around money and money bail, making the system harder for less wealthy individuals and easier for the rich. For example, two people can commit the same crime, but both undergo two different experiences. Someone who is financially stable can afford bail and avoid spending a night in jail, while someone who struggles to put food on the table is going to spend a year in person. In the article “The US bail system punishes the poor and rewards the rich” by Arpit Gupta and Ethan Frenchmen, they compare life in jail in America amongst the poor and the rich. The article includes that the “system unfairly punishes people who are too poor to buy their freedom. In Maryland, for example, between 2011 and 2015, more than 80,000 defendants (pdf) were jailed because they were unable to afford bail. And, like Stanford, more than 17,000 of them were jailed on a bail amount of $5,000 or less.” This clearly shows that money can not only make life easier but can buy you your freedom in instances like going to jail or not. Aside from the money bail system in the United States, money is a gateway out of minor infractions such as speeding tickets, parking tickets, and other minor fines and fees. What seems like a small problem and easy payment to someone who is financially comfortable, can be a major issue to someone struggling monetarily. This issue can lead to increases in fines and court costs, causing financial stress which results in overworking, relationship strains, mental health issues, etc.
In conclusion, Money is not going to make life better or easier. Although money may be a cause of happiness it isn’t giving people a happy life it may be doing the complete opposite. Money causes excessive amounts of stress, is used for illegal purposes, and can change the way people think about certain situations. Stress, worry, and a loss of work-life balance can be brought on by the pressure to uphold a certain level of living and continuously amass wealth, which can have a detrimental effect on one’s mental and physical health. Additionally, having money can foster a sense of entitlement that results in a lack of sympathy and compassion for others. while money is undoubtedly important in meeting basic needs, it does not guarantee happiness and well-being. Real happiness comes from real connections, experiences, and personal development; it cannot just be attained through wealth and money. Living a happy life means filling fulfilled money may be a part of feeling fulfilled but it isn’t the whole reason, happiness does not equal money. Ultimately, money alone will not lead people to live a happy life, there are many more complexities to happiness than wealth.
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). The stress of money, with Linda Gallo, Phd. American Psychological Association. Retrieved April 26, 2023, from https://www.apa.org/news/podcasts/speaking-of-psychology/financial-stress
Aristotle: Pioneer of Happiness. Pursuit of Happiness. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/aristotle/#:~:text=According%20to%20Aristotle%2C%20happiness%20consists,which%20may%20be%20very%20difficult.
Avery Koop Article/Editing: , & Khan, W. B. R. (2023, March 20). Mapped: The world’s happiest countries in 2023. Visual Capitalist. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.visualcapitalist.com/worlds-happiest-countries-2023/
Bello, C. (2023, March 26). Why are Nordic countries so happy and what can we learn from them? euronews. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.euronews.com/next/2023/03/23/why-do-people-in-nordic-countries-consistently-rank-as-the-happiest-and-what-can-we-learn-#:~:text=Finland%20took%20the%20top%20spot,genetically%20bound%20to%20be%20happier.
D’ambrosio , C., Jäntii, M., & Lepinteur, A. (2019, September 12). Money and happiness: Income, wealth and subjective well-being – social indicators research. SpringerLink. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11205-019-02186-w
Delamothe, T. (2005, December 22). Happiness. The BMJ. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.bmj.com/content/331/7531/1489.short
Gupta, A., & Frenchman, E. (2017, February 2). The US bail system punishes the poor and rewards the rich. Quartz. Retrieved April 26, 2023, from https://qz.com/900777/the-us-bail-system-punishes-the-poor-and-rewards-the-rich
Happiness definition: What is happiness. Greater Good. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/happiness/definition#what-is-happiness
More proof that money can buy happiness (or a life with less stress). HBS Working Knowledge. (2022, January 25). Retrieved April 26, 2023, from https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/more-proof-that-money-can-buy-happiness