Money Can Buy Happiness In One's Personal Experience
A person is said to be happy if they experience a series of positive emotions like pride, interest and joy, with rare cases of negative experiences like anxiety, sadness, and anger (Khoddam 1). A happy individual is also most likely to appreciate life since they experience moments of pleasure and life satisfaction. However, it is vital to acknowledge that having positive emotions is not an indicator that one lacks negative emotions. Just like any other person, a happy person experiences both negative and positive emotions, but there is a variance in the frequency with which they experience the negative ones. The mindset is also a key player in whether one would be happy or not. Two people experiencing the same amount of negative experiences would have different levels of happiness, depending on what one chooses to focus on. Therefore, money can buy happiness if you purchase things that trigger certain neurochemical reactions.
Since the beginning of the world, human beings have been in pursuit of happiness, and the concept has since been taken by positive psychology to research and establish an understanding of meaningful living and global well-being. The hunt for happiness has gained scientific recognition and traction, whether on an individual or global level. Some argue that money can buy happiness, whereas others oppose such a stand. It is essential to realize that there is some connection between money and happiness, and that is why people stay late at work and invest their money in profitable ways. However, it is essential to set priorities first and understand what brings you happiness in the first place before you can use the money you have. Several studies, for example, have discovered that having friends is very important, and what you do with your friends makes you even happy. For instance, you can invest your money in your friendship by throwing parties or set up regular lunches. We need money to do things and studies have found that humans derive more happiness from doing things than in having things. That is, there is a critical truth covered by our obsession with stuff: things that do not last create the most lasting happiness. The reason for this is that as one recalls the experiences they had, for example, during a party, they tend to blossom.
According to Holder, those who think that money cannot buy happiness are not spending their money in the right way (1). One way through which someone can spend their money to increase their happiness is to buy time. Our happiness receives a boost when we spend money to save time. For example, people were given $40 each to spend on two different weekends, and there were differences in their happiness levels depending on what they were instructed to do with the amount. Those who were asked to use the money to save their time were happier than those told to use the money on material things like buying clothes and wine (Holder 1). Therefore, spending your money to save time is the thing to do if your goal is happiness. That could be through hiring a taxi to your place instead of boarding a public vehicle, paying someone to wash your clothes, ordering a pizza, and having it delivered to your doorstep.
Money can also buy happiness when you spend it on others. Several studies have established that human beings derive more joy from spending money on others than spending it on themselves. For example, if two people were given equal amounts of money to spend differently, and one chooses to buy himself lunch or clothes while the other decides to buy a gift for a friend, the latter will report higher levels of happiness than the one who spent the money on himself (Holder 1). That would justify the biblical quote in Acts 20:35 that “there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”
Next, the other way through which money can buy happiness is through buying experience and not things. Immediately after purchasing an item or an experience, there might be a similar boost in the levels of happiness. However, in the longer term, the experiences would be more effective in increasing happiness. The reason behind this is that humans quickly get used to the happiness they derive from things while they can always refresh their happiness by reminding themselves of the positive experiences they had by looking at the photos and memories (Futrelle 1). Remarkably, people get more happiness from experiences than from things even before the purchase is fulfilled. That is to say, for example, an individual anticipating a new house or car may feel impatient, but another person expecting an activity such as bungee jumping or traveling may tend to feel excited.
Nevertheless, it is also critical to consider the arguments by those who feel that money cannot buy happiness. One such argument is that money can lead to more stress, and this was justified through the move by Bhutan in 1972 to pursue a policy of happiness and not a focus on economic growth measured through GDP. As a result of this, the little nation has since been reported to be the happiest compared to other countries with superior wealth (Nelson-Coffey). Another argument against the ability of money buying happiness is that humans want never satisfied, and money can never be enough. People think that if they had a little bit more of the money, they have currently, then they would be happier. But this is not true, the more money you get, the more you would want. In fact, the more money you have, the less it becomes effective in bringing you happiness. According to Dan Gilbert, once an individual has enough money to meet their basic needs, then the extra money they get does not bring them any additional happiness.
Another reason given by those arguing against the idea of money buying happiness is that humans are adaptable creatures, and their satisfaction does not last long when good fortune comes their way. Earning more money would only make one happy in a short moment, after which you adjust to the new wealth, and the happiness fades away. One would get a thrill at first sight of their large television screens or new shiny cars. However, they soon get used to them, leading them into a state referred to as a hedonic treadmill. Even though such stuff might bring you the expected satisfaction, you keep going back to the shops looking for better ones, a desire that can never be met. Gilbert says that when one imagines how they would enjoy a new Porsche car, what they actually imagine is the feeling of the first day after the car is purchased. The moment the car begins to have problems and fails to meet your original expectations, one begins to draw wrong conclusions, which leads to them buying another car they deem better. The behavior is a cycle, and that is why the needs of humans can never be met. For instance, one in this situation begins to question the choice of their car instead of questioning the idea that they can derive happiness from cars. So, one proceeds to pin their hopes on a new BMW, which again ends up disappointing them.
Another concept that has drawn the attention of many debaters is the difference between happiness and addiction. Of all the emotions, happiness is the most desirable, pursued, and elusive which causes many to turn to drugs, as it can produce feelings similar to that of happiness. Unfortunately, the use of drugs to sustain their happiness forces them to pursue more of it, which leads to addiction. However, there is a need to understand the two kinds of happiness, which are hedonic and eudaimonic happiness (Sachs 3). Hedonic happiness is short-lived and can be achieved through drug use, while eudaimonic happiness is lasting and sustainable, though one could argue that there is no such thing. For instance, if happiness is simply the making of a choice that produces certain feel-good neurochemicals, how can there be one choice that would continue to produce those hormones for the rest of your life? Unless long term happiness in you continually making choices that produce those hormones. If that’s the case, would it not be true that if you continue to make decisions, like drug abuse, you will not be, at least, momentarily happy? The difficulty with drugs is they eventually wear off, but suppose you kept using them before they wore off. If this were to happen, you would need to continually increase the dosage, but ultimately, your brain would produce happy hormones until that center of your brain was fried. Furthermore, addiction is not only to drugs but can be to other material goods and experiences, like excessive use of social media, money, and gambling. Addictions have a negative relationship with happiness because people tend to become easily desensitized to them, causing them to want more, though never being fully satisfied, which, in the long term, tends to leave most Americans clinically depressed and unhappy (Sachs 4).
Ultimately, happiness can be defined by the feel-good hormones that our brain produces and interprets. When we use the money we have to buy things that make us happy we are essentially buying our happiness. Although these things can vary between vacations and food, it is essential to know yourself well enough to know what makes you feel good. It is also essential to understand that part of leading a happy life is taking the bad with the good, and making an effort to increase the frequency of positive emotions that you experience daily. Although money may not be the most important thing in your life, your mental health is, and money can be a means of taking care of you and establishing positive self-care.
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