Money Can't Buy Happiness: The Meaning Of Happiness

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What is the actual meaning of happiness? Most of us probably think that we do not need a formal definition of happiness, as we cannot simply explain happiness through words. We can feel happiness when it comes over you, happiness is a sense of well-being, joy, pride, contentment, gratitude and so on. Everyone has different perspective towards happiness from their own experience. However, there is a heated discussion surrounding the argument “Can money buy you happiness?”, which has been floating in the internet for decades. From our perspective, we believe that to some extent, money can buy you happiness. There is a research which indicates that money can buy happiness — but it depends on how you spend it. Quoted by David Lee Roth, vocalist for the rock band Van Halen, “Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.”

First and foremost, money can eliminate financial anxiety. Money can lead to happiness height rises tremendously is because it can provide financially securement and satisfaction for individuals. When you have enough money beside you, there is an ease to solve daily problems in life such as paying rent or buying food we prefer. This type of security is overlooked when you are used to it. Remembering and being appreciative of the fact that you are free to purchase things, though, will make you happier even after it has settled in as normal amount of your finances. Our happiness height will rise when we obtain enough money to purchase necessities.

The latest research confirms that money can indeed 'buy' happiness, conducted by The Epoch Times, reported by Zhang Ni. People are happiest when they have a certain amount of wealth, but when wealth exceeds the threshold that feels 'most comfortable', the satisfaction with life begins to decline. Leading by Andrew Jebb, a researcher at Purdue University in Indiana, led the survey of more than 1.7 million people in 164 countries and found the happiest income threshold for the average person in the world today. The survey found that when the personal income is between 60,000 and 70,000 US dollars, the emotional index is the highest. When it reaches 95,000, it is almost satisfied with all aspects of life. Of course, this number will differ from the cost of living in the area where the respondent is located, and more for those with families. To the researchers' surprise, when people's income exceeds these thresholds, the overall satisfaction with life is reduced. The reasons behind this are hard to tell, but the researchers estimate that this may be caused by excessive wealth, extravagance or waste, or endless accumulation of wealth. The study was published in the journal Nature: Human Behaviour in early January.

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Another way is spending money on others. It has a greater impact on happiness than spending money on oneself. It is partly because giving to others makes us feel good about ourselves. It helps to promote a view of ourselves as responsible and giving people which in turn makes us feel happy. Helping others is an important element in increasing happiness. Donating to charity is a major mood-booster. The knowledge that you are helping others is hugely empowering and in turn it can make you feel happier and more fulfilled. For another thing, there is a karmic connection to kindness: if you help someone now, they might help you later. You will be so happy for it. In her second Secret of Adulthood writing collections, writer Gretchen Rubin says, “One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make someone else happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

A research suggested that many people think that spending money on themselves will make them happier than spending it on other people. However, several studies have shown that this isn’t true. Contrary to many people’s instincts, prosocial spending results in more happiness than does spending money on yourself, according to the Seligman ‘s PERMA model on the factors of happiness. In the experiments conducted by Elizabeth Dunn and colleagues, employees were asked about their general happiness levels before and after receiving their annual bonuses. Regardless of the amount of their bonuses, employees who spent more of their bonus money on others or on charity reported greater general of happiness than those who spent more of it on themselves. Besides that, in another experiment conducted by them had also proved that participants who were directed to spend a small amount of money on others, reported higher level of happiness than those who were directed to spend the same amount on themselves. Again, the dollar amount did not matter. This suggests that spending on others do give greater impact then spending on oneself, even when the choice isn’t ours and the dollar amount is small.

Besides that, money can help us to save our time. In other words, we can buy things or spend our money on services which can simplify or reduce the time spent on that certain activities which consume our time. Certain tasks such as house cleaning could sometimes take entire day to complete which is tiring and time consuming. There are also some house chores which we do not enjoy, for example doing the laundry, vacuuming, sweeping and washing dishes. These tasks could be eliminated by spending money on it. For instance, we can pay others to do them for us or find ways to automate them with technology. Therefore, we would have more time to pursue things that we enjoy more.

A study conducted by a group of researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, suggested that using money to buy free time is linked to greater life satisfaction. The study lead author Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School who carried out the research as a PhD candidate in the UBC department of psychology stated that 'People who hire a housecleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they're being lazy, but our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money.' The researchers surveyed around 6,000 adults in the United States, Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands. Respondents were asked if they were to spend each month to buy themselves free time, how much would they had spent and rated their life satisfaction. Respondents who spent money on purchases which are time saving reported greater life satisfaction. The effect remains the same even after controlling for income. Moreover, to test whether buying time causes greater happiness, the researchers also conducted a field experiment. According to the research, sixty respondents were randomly assigned to spend $40 on a time saving purchase, and $40 on a material purchase. The results showed that people felt happier when they spent money on a time saving purchase than on a material purchase.

In conclusion, I believe that money can buy happiness but cannot buy eternal joy. Purchasing physical materials will only result in a limited amount of satisfaction as it cannot buy you the feelings you get from love and affection. Besides that, it also cannot purchase everything in world such as a deceased loved one or the memories made with them. However, as quoted by Robert Rolih the author of The Million Dollar Decision: Get Out of the Rigged Game of Investing and Add a Million to Your Net Worth, “They say money cannot buy happiness. But it can sure as hell solve a lot of problems!”. There is also a research conducted by Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman. He studied 45,000 families in the United States and found that the same vicious incidents (such as unemployment, car accidents, illnesses, etc.) are more painful for the poor and less painful for the rich. Why do rich people have a high tolerance for negative events? Money can buy happiness, by buying a sense of security to a large extent. Money is like a protective film that enhances our ability to resist risks and, to a certain extent, withstand disasters. Therefore, money does buy happiness, provided it is used in the right way.

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