Reasons Why Money Cannot Buy Happiness

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If I asked a stranger to describe a wealthy individual, they would probably use the words “privileged,” “successful,” and “happy.” When, in reality, studies have proven that having a great deal of money does not always lead to happiness. In fact, despite popular belief, money rarely contributes to one’s level of merriment. This can be linked to a popular statement that I strongly agree with- that money cannot buy happiness.

My brother is, as most little brothers are, a menace. His hobbies consist of pestering me and my sisters, being loud, and going through and stealing my belongings- secret stashes of candy, old, forgotten toys, and money. All jokes aside, it seems as though every time I go into my wallet, more and more money is missing- money that I did not spend. This has been going on for years, and every time I’ve confronted him for taking my cash, a wide grin spreads across his face, and I know that he’s already spent it. But he always comes back for more, never satisfied. No matter how much he has accumulated, he always wants more. No matter how much he has purchased for himself, he always wants more. No matter how much he has, he is not happy.

A study done by Paul Piff at the University of Berkeley proves that the more money people have, the more selfish and unsatisfied they become. He and his colleagues conducted a series of experiments to see how people responded to having an abundance of wealth. The first experiment- a game of Monopoly. As innocent as it may seem, the game was rigged in a way that one player would end up with far more money than the other players. Piff and his associates observed that the wealthier player became more malicious toward their ¨poorer¨ companions, and began to talk down to them. A similar study, where participants were given $10 and told that they could split some or all of it with another participant (the average amount shared was 44%), demonstrated that wealthier people are more likely to donate a smaller amount of their income to charities. It is well known by researchers that generosity typically makes people happier, which validates the theory that money cannot buy ones’ happiness. Researchers have also speculated that luxury makes us more isolated from others, and therefore reduces our generosity, likely because wealthy individuals value independence more as they gain more money. This leads into the argument that one cannot be truly happy without at least one meaningful relationship, which again feeds into the speculation that wealth does not directly attribute to a person’s contentedness.  

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