Money Can't Buy Happiness Through Cultural Lens

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Many people believe that money and happiness travel in different paths. These people do not believe that money is the main source of happiness and that there are many things that can make a person feel happier such as, spirituality, relationships, family, etc. However, these people aren't aware that if they have the main necessities fo life, they are going to be able to focus on deeper things like their spirituality, relationships and family. Thus, this research is going to discuss why money doesn't satisfy people enough for them to change there opinion and think about the different opportunities money can buy them. Money allows people to live longer and healthier lives, to buffer themselves against worry and harm, to have leisure time to spend with friends and family, and to control the nature of their daily activities—all of which are sources of happiness (Smith, Langa, Kabeto, & Ubel, 2005). Wealthy people don’t just have better toys; they have better nutrition and better medical care, more free time and more meaningful labor—more of just about every ingredient in the recipe for a happy life. And yet, they aren’t that much happier than those who have less. If money can buy happiness, then why doesn’t it? Because people don’t spend it right. Most people don’t know the basic scientific facts about happiness—about what brings it and what sustains it and so they don’t know how to use their money to acquire it. Thus, i am going to discuss the 5 different perspective of money and happiness. Such as, eliminating financial anxieties, buying experiences, giving to charity & helping loved ones, giving yourself some free time, buying small pleasures.

People's mental simulations of future events are almost always imperfect. For example, people don’t anticipate the ease with which they will adapt to positive and negative events, they don’t fully understand the factors that speed or slow that adaptation, and they are insufficiently sensitive to the fact that mental simulations lack important details. Second, context exerts strong effects on affective forecasts and on affective experiences, but people often fail to realize that these two contexts are not the same; that is, the context in which they are making their forecasts is not the context in which they will be having their experience. These two sources of error cause people to mispredict what will make them happy, how happy it will make them, and how long that happiness will last. Mai west once said 'I've been rich, and i've been poor; trust me being rich is better'. The research article written by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton 'High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being' proves that people with higher income are far more satisfies than those who have a lower income. It was proved by a survey that was done on 450,000 people to check how happy they are depending on how much money they earn. The survey answers were split into Emotional well being and Live evaluation. The results show that higher income improves people's overall life evaluation but not the emotional wellbeing. The second article written by Andrew O'Hagen known as 'The happiness project'. He describes how Disney created a world of happiness and asense of hope for people, while at the same time a sense of loss. How is the article related to money and happiness? Well on July 17, 1955, a 17 million dollar project called Disneyland was opened to the public. The park opened with 26 attractions. 12 more were added soon thereafter. The whole disneyland project did require some money to put a smile into millions of children's faces. Andrew O'Hagen describes how his daughter had an expensive disney princess makeover, which bring us to the point that money does buy you happiness after all because without it many children's dreams of going to disneyland won't be fulfilled. Hence, this research is going to express how money can buy happiness.

Eliminating financial anxieties

The reason that money demonstratively increases happiness levels up until a point is that it takes a certain salary to feel financially secure .Having enough money means no anxiety when shopping at the grocery store, going out to eat or paying your rent. 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. Fundamentally, having enough money to buy these basic necessities will no doubt increase your happiness levels. Many people will argue that money doesn't buy happiness not having the right income is going to make you worry over excessive debt and having trouble paying your bills and this will definitely make you unhappy. In addition, preparing for unemployment is one of the most important things that most people work for. After so many years of working hard you deserve to take a break and quit your job, but this is not going to be fulfilled with a lower income. Thus, you will find yourself working harder and longer than those who receive higher incomes.

Buying experiences

Experiences are good; but why are they better than things? One reason is that we adapt to things so quickly. After devoting days to selecting the perfect hardwood floor to install in a new condo, homebuyers find their once beloved Brazilian cherry floors quickly become nothing more than the unnoticed ground beneath their feet. In contrast, their memory of seeing a baby cheetah at dawn on an African safari continues to provide delight. Testing this idea in an experimental context, Nicolao, Irwin, and Goodman (2009) randomly assigned participants to spend several dollars on either a material or experiential purchase, tracking participants’ happiness with their purchase over a two week period. Over time, participants exhibited slower adaptation to experiential purchases than to material purchases. 1 One reason why this happens is that people adapt most quickly to that which doesn’t change. Whereas cherry floorboards generally have the same size, shape, and color on the last day of the year as they did on the first, each session of a year-long cooking class is different from the one before. Another reason why people seem to get more happiness from experiences than things is that they anticipate and remember the former more often than the latter. Surveying a sample of Cornell students, Van Boven and Gilovich (2003) found that 83% reported mentally revisiting‖ their experiential purchases more frequently than their material purchases (p. 1199). Things bring us happiness when we use them, but not so much when we merely think about them. Experiences bring happiness in both cases and some (e.g., climbing a mountain or making love to a new partner) may even be better contemplated than consummated (Loewenstein, 1999). We are more likely to mentally revisit our experiences than our things in part because our experiences are more centrally connected to our identities. In a survey of 76 adults, Van Boven and Gilovich (2003) found that the vast majority of adults viewed their experiential purchases as more self-defining than their material purchases. A final reason why experiences make us happier than things is that experiences are more likely to be shared with other people, and other people as we are now about to see are our greatest source of happiness.

Giving back

Almost anything we do to improve our connections with others tends to improve our happiness as well and that includes spending money. Dunn, Aknin, and Norton (2008) asked a nationally representative sample of Americans to rate their happiness and to report how much money they spent in a typical month on (1) bills and expenses, (2) gifts for themselves, (3) gifts for others, and (4) donations to charity. The first two categories were summed to create a personal spending composite, and the latter two categories were summed to create a prosocial spending composite. Although personal spending was unrelated to happiness, people who devoted more money to prosocial spending were happier, even after controlling for their income. An experiment revealed a similar pattern of results (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008). Researchers approached individuals on the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus, handed them a $5 or $20 bill, and then randomly assigned them to spend the money on themselves or on others by the end of the day. When participants were contacted that evening, individuals who had been assigned to spend their windfall on others were happier than those who had been assigned to spend the money on themselves. The benefits of prosocial spending appear to be cross-cultural. Over 600 students attending universities in Canada and in the East African nation of Uganda were randomly assigned to reflect on a time they had spent money on themselves or on others (Aknin et al., 2010). Participants felt significantly happier when they reflected on a time they had spent money on others, and this effect emerged consistently across these vastly different cultural contexts—even though the specific ways in which participants spent their money varied dramatically between cultures. In conclusion, money does give you the ability to give back to others not only to those who are in need but also to your family members. There are a lot of videos online that reveal to us how people were able to give back to their parents by paying there debts and loans, finally getting them a home to settle in, etc. Robert Bosch one said '“I don't pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages.”.

Giving yourself some free time

An underrated way to spend your money is on saving yourself time. There are many tasks we do throughout the day that we do not enjoy. These differ for everyone, but examples might include doing the laundry, cooking, driving and doing household chores. When you have more money, you can spend it on eliminating these meaningless tasks. You can pay others to do them for you or find ways to automate them with technology. Doing so will free up time so you can do more of what you love. Studies indicate that when we spend money to save time, our happiness receives a boost. For example, researchers gave people $40 to spend on two different weekends. When the people were instructed to spend the money in a way that saved them time, they were happier than when they were told to spend the money on material items.

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Buying small pleasures instead of a few big ones

Since we adapt so fast to the things we buy, it appears better to buy more frequent, small gifts (good cup of coffee, super fuzzy socks, or a pedicure) rather than spending all of it on a large purchase. We are far less likely to adapt to these little gifts because they are more novel, surprising, uncertain and variable. Another reason is that the gifts are more segregated, which introduces a temporal discontinuity between the experiences or things which also diminishes adaptation. As a bonus, you also get to savour the small pleasure. Ironically, this capacity to savour seems more reduced among wealthy individuals. It is possible that this is because they have more access to peak experiences, which undermine the ability to savour these small pleasures. So my advice is; try and live more in the moment and try to savour the small pleasurable things in life.

In conclusion, when people are asked to take stock of their lives, people with more money report being a good deal more satisfied. But when asked how happy they are at the moment, people with more money are barely different than those with less (Diener, Ng, Harter, & Arora, 2010). This suggests that our money provides us with satisfaction when we think about it, but not when we use it. That shouldn’t happen. Money can buy many, if not most, if not all of the things that make people happy, and if it doesn’t, then the fault is ours. We believe that psychologists can teach people to spend their money in ways that will indeed increase their happiness, and we hope we’ve done a bit of that here.


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