Just this week in the United States, there were two massive lotteries of over 600 million dollars that prompted millions of people to hop state borders and buy lottery tickets. Lottery retailers had long lines of hopeful people who were hoping that their life would be instantly transformed in just one night.
The age-old question, can money buy happiness – is one that will be pondered perhaps for the entirety of the civilized world’s existence. For most people, they recognize that money cannot truly ‘buy’ happiness but it can make life a whole lot easier and less stressful, which can certainly make life better. But does this necessarily mean happier? There are plenty of millionaires and celebrities who seem to have everything they want and more, who should be living the dream life – who turn to drugs and alcohol or even suicide in order to escape an unhappy life? Certainly, the happiest people that you know aren’t necessarily the richest? Having more money can certainly present its share of problems, and in truth has absolutely no effect on the happiness factor vested inside each and every living soul. Just look at your favorite canine – without a penny to their name, and with nothing but the fur on their back. They certainly don’t equate money to happiness.
For many people the collection of money and material things is a direct equation that they feel represents success. And so it becomes that having MORE – would seem to boost self esteem and ego and make a person feel more successful. Many people believe that when they feel more successful, even through perception that they are happier folks. The problem is that emotions and feelings come from a place in the brain that has not real material connection. Money can be a tool to happiness, but is not necessarily a sure fire way to be happy.
Back in the 1970’s, a study that became known as the Easterlin Paradox, proved that the more money that people had did not necessarily raise the level of well being that people experienced. The theory then went on to suggest once a persons basics needs are met, such as food, shelter, clothing etc. were met – an increase in money did not increase a persons level of well being or happiness.
Additionally, a study from Fortune Magazine, showed that when people reached a certain income level – it took more and more money to actually raise their feelings of wellbeing. This seems to concur with the notion that the ultra wealthy aren’t necessarily happier than the folks scrapping by week to week on paychecks are. In the book The Science of Getting Rich, written in the early 1900’s – the author describes not money as the secret to happiness, but desire and passion to continuously want more in one’s life.
The University of Princeton also did a study to see whether money could buy happiness. And the findings were that day to day happiness, as in the kind that gives you generalized satisfaction with life, is definitely related to earning enough money to meet your day-to-day needs. But happiness at the spiritual and emotional level, is something that is more tied to a person’s level of gratitude, family life, and general feelings of satisfaction in life unrelated to financial gains.
Unfortunately, there is a perception for a lot of people that it is in fact MONEY that will lead them to happiness. Inherent in human nature is a desire to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak, and when people feel they are able to do so -they feel more contented. And yet, this feeling of content-ness with life does not make for a happier soul.
At some point, each of us has to find a place in life where we feel we have achieved, and feel that we are successful. We also have to learn to be thankful and appreciative of the things and people we have in our lives, and find happiness within ourselves – BEFORE money can improve emotional happiness. Yes, there is no doubt that money can make life easier, and when we experience and easier life – we may experience more day-to-day happiness. Yet overall, happiness is a way of life – not measured by material needs. In fact, according to some schools of thought, the constant want and desire for more can actually blind us to what we already have, and therefore subtract from our overall feelings of happiness in life.
All of that being said, there probably is not one of us reading this that would not be completely happy and giddy to win a 600 million dollar lottery. We could probably all find a little more happiness in finding a $100 bill lying on the ground, or to wake up to an extra few thousand dollars in our bank account. Yet, if we hinge all of our happiness on monetary things – chances are we will never really live a life abundant in happiness, and will constantly live with a feeling of lack. The choice is yours.