Jan 06 2011
I’ve read numerous articles about the validity of money buying happiness and from the many articles I’ve read (including this one) the general consensus is that money doesn’t officially buy happiness. “Surveys have found virtually the same level of happiness between the very rich individuals on the Forbes 400 and the Maasai herdsman of East Africa.”
The main concept behind this is that many times money is used for things that don’t provide the length of satisfaction that “free things” provide. A great example could be buying a car vs. a family trip in said car. The car itself loses it’s allure through time but the trips inside the car are memories that can last forever. So the car itself didn’t provide happiness but it helped facilitate it.
Sure there are small correlations of overall income levels and general happiness but again, money itself has little connectivity to happiness itself. So when can money buy happiness?
Here are five times where it actually does work…..
Buying Gifts and Giving to Others
Where does the happiness come from? It comes from the look in someone’s eye when you hand them the gift. It comes from the stories you might retell about the time you bought them that gift. Or how about simply buying a cup of coffee for a friend? It goes a hell of a long way. I have more enjoyment seeing my niece light up with a smile from a gift I gave than if someone handed me a $10,000 check. How do you explain that? In these cases money (albeit small amounts) can provide happiness.
You could be the richest person in the world but if you’re not “living life” then what’s the point? I’m sitting here at my computer right now and if you told me I’d be earning $1MM more a year than I earn now then the only thing I’d have more of is security, not happiness. What’s the point of making money if you don’t use it on fun stuff? One of the most fun things is travel. Take a trip. Make some memories. Get out in the world. Don’t just sit around.
Hobbies or Skills
If there’s one thing I hate about myself it’s that I’m at this desk for too many hours on end. I recently started taking piano lessons and I absolutely love it. It takes my mind off work and I’m actually a better worker after I play piano. Take up a skill. It could be cooking, art, whatever. Believe me, it’s money well spent.
Investing in Yourself Physically and Mentally
Many people are embarrassed about going to thinks like therapy or yoga. Why? Know what the best investment there is out there? Yourself. So why not do whatever you can to make yourself happy. Get a gym membership. See a shrink. Don’t go through your whole life not taking steps to improve yourself.
This is probably the least effective of the bunch but it does provide some moments of happiness. For example, if you’ve been saving up for years to buy a certain piece of furniture or car, it does in fact bring you some happiness. But the happiness really comes from the hard work and saving than from the item itself. This works better in instances like buying a piece of cake once in a while.
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