This essay discusses whether money can buy happiness, arguing that money cannot guarantee happiness or freedom. The essay argues that money cannot but happiness or freedom and that, on the contrary, money traps people in to a vicious cycle of perpetually wanting more and failing to be happy with what they have. This is not true happiness and certainly does not enable freedom.
Can money buy happiness and freedom? Of course not!
This essay will discuss whether money can buy happiness and freedom and will look at how income relates to happiness; how money is not the key to happiness; and how materialism fails to make people happy. Dodson (2007) argues that many people work very hard and very long hours in order to be able to buy the things they need. As Dodson (2007; 29) states, “While our houses get bigger and our televisions become wider, flatter, more colourful and cheaper, greater numbers of us are becoming depressed”. Despite higher income levels, there are now much higher levels of depression in society than ever before: it seems, therefore, that money cannot buy happiness and, indeed, that the opposite appears to be true. The more money we have, the more we want, and the more we want, the less happy we become.
As Dodson (2007; 30) discusses, research has shown that “income only equates to happiness up until the point where people’s basic needs are met (around $10,000 per year): after that, any increase in income does not equate to increased feelings of happiness or general wellbeing”. Money cannot buy happiness. Lottery winners often end up spending all their money or killing themselves: the excess money they have does not make them happy, on the contrary, it adds stress to their lives.
Failing to be content with what we have is a recipe for disaster in terms of happiness: it generates unhappiness. As Dodson (2007) argues, the consumer culture encourages us to partake in activities that are not conducive to well being: spending more than we earn and getting in to debt to have the latest gadgets, for example, brings temporary happiness but, when the debt needs paying back, long term feelings of anxiety and shame. Money is not the
key to happiness: being satisfied and content with what you have, and showing gratitude for all you have is a healthier approach to your life. As Maich (2006; 27) states, “once all of life’s most basic needs are satisfied, is there any sense in chasing ever greater prosperity?”. The essay argues that, no, there is little sense in chasing higher levels of prosperity.
Research shows that humans are not designed for the lifestyle we have created for ourselves in the Western, affluent, world. This lifestyle has made us the most obese, most medicated, most indebted and most isolated generation that has lived, these facts suggesting that chasing the elusive ‘more money’ and ‘more things to buy’ fantasy is not working. Money does not make people happy. Material things – materialism – do not make people happy. As Maich (2006; 27) argues, materialism causes, “a hedonistic treadmill – in order to remain happy, people need to raise their income faster than those around them and, since income tends to rise gradually over time, this creates the need to constantly strive for more”.
In conclusion, the essay has argued that money cannot but happiness or freedom and that, on the contrary, money traps people in to a vicious cycle of perpetually wanting more and failing to be happy with what they have. This is not true happiness and certainly does not enable freedom.
Dodson, P. 2007. Buying happiness: the depressing reality of materialism. Briarpatch Magazine September-October 2007, 29-43.
Maich, S. 2006. Money really can buy happiness. Macleans 119, 26-29.