Does Money Buy Happiness?

hand holding hundred dollar bills
I’m confused. Doing research for this article I found conflicting answers to my question, does money buy happiness? One “expert” said yes, one said yes if you spend money on others and yet another said no. What do you think; can money buy happiness?

Let’s make this question more personal – in your life as it is today, could having more money buy you more happiness? Would you be happier if you knew you’d never have to be worried, stressed or concerned over money ever again? If you suddenly had a billion dollars, would that bring you greater happiness than you have in your life right now?

Maybe we should begin with a definition of happiness. Here is the American Heritage Dictionary definition: Enjoying, showing, or marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy.

When I think about, this probably isn’t just a money question. Money and happiness raises issues about lifestyle and personality. This question seems to also go to the core of your values and belief system regarding happiness and whether money is an important element to a happy life.

Let’s take a look at the research to see what the “experts” say:

1. Yes, money can buy you happiness.
In 2005 the Wall Street Journal published an article “Money Buys Happiness” quoting research from the National Opinion Research Center: People in the top fifth of income earners are about 50% more likely to say they are “very happy” than people in the bottom fifth.

It’s obvious that money can buy the lifestyle comforts and extras that make life more comfortable. It makes sense then that those not struggling to put food on the table would “feel” happier than those who had to worry about where the next meal was coming from. The findings then went on to say that the term happiness is subjective – how to pinpoint and quantify what makes you happy is a personal opinion. Would the top fifth of income earners have been just as happy with less money?

2. Yes, money can buy you happiness if you spend it on others.
Experts agreed that donating money brings happiness! Researchers in several studies found a definite correlation between money and feelings of happiness when the subjects regularly donated time and/or money to charity.

The various articles I read seem to come to the same conclusion: People who spend money on others or gave their money to charities were happier than those who just spent money on themselves. A statistic in that same 2005 Wall Street Journal article stated: “People who donate to charity are 40% more likely to say they are “very happy” than non-donors.”

3. No, money cannot buy you happiness.
On the other side of the issue are the skeptics who point to the alcoholic socialites, suicidal multimillion-dollar business owners and lottery winners who ended up in worse financial shape than before they became wealthy to make the case that money definitely cannot buy happiness.

Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert put it this way, “Wealth increases the human happiness when it lifts people out of abject poverty and into the middle class but that it does little to increase happiness thereafter.” According to many leading economists, the happiness that money does have the ability to buy is the freedom to make more choices in life.

Well, what do you think – can money buy happiness?

 

Originally published by Sharon Michaels – BellaOnline.com Abundance and Wealth site
(c) Copyright 2009-2012 SharonMichaels.com – All Rights Reserved

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