Can money buy happiness? This question has been thought over and analyzed by hundreds of sources and people. Everyone’s conclusion to that question will vary, but the majority of them result in a similar answer. Within certain limitations, money has the power to give people happiness, even though this happiness is artificial, temporary, and often based on material goods rather than lifelong experiences shared with others.
The happiness created from money is often artificial and temporary. For example, you see a $10 bill sitting on the sidewalk, and you become very happy that you have some extra spending money now. However, hours later you forget about this, and move on with something that holds a higher value. To further explain the concept of temporary happiness, Sarah Gervais states, “Buying things does make us happy, at least in the short term. In the long-term, however, we habituate to new things and even though they may have made us excited and happy at first, eventually the item becomes the new normal and fades into the background,” demonstrating money’s ability to give short term happiness concerning artificial or material goods (Gervais). The happiness provided by money does give us happiness at first, but as the item bought by money fades and becomes unimportant, so does that happiness.
Money is often spent on materialistic things rather than memorable experiences, which shortens the length and value of happiness. A common usage of a surplus of money is spent on the new iPhone to stay relevant with trends, rather than a family vacation (Blackman). Due to this decision, the happiness that is created by money is often short lived, rather than carried on through memories. For example, you decide to take your family to Disney World for a family vacation. You create long lasting memories that you are able to look back on, and feel happy. However, if you decided to get new phones for everyone in your family instead, eventually the happiness of phones will fade away as they become used, and new products come out. This concept proves that experiences are more memorable than tangible objects, and have long-lasting value (Blackman).
One way to prolong happiness derived from money, and add to its value, is to spend your money on other people. A simple example is, one day of the week, instead of getting your $5 coffee in the morning from starbucks, spend that money on a warm breakfast for a homeless person. Or treat your best friend to their favorite restaurant on their birthday. This concept has been researched for a long time by many credible sources. Harvard Business blog says, “Although it might be tempting to spend this money on yourself, a decade of research shows that you’re more likely to derive happiness from spending it on someone else,” demonstrating the scientific evidence behind the happiness derived from money towards the joy of others (Dunn and Courtney). Happiness from money that is spent on others, is more times than not, more genuine and long-lasting than spending it on yourself.
Even with its limitations, money can buy happiness, with the consideration that happiness is artificial, temporary, and usually wasted on material goods. Money does have the power to give people happiness. This happiness does not hold a strong and long-lasting value though. The money is usually spent on material goods and quick bursts of joy. So, next time you are looking to spend some money with the end result of happiness, spend it for a good reason on a friend or person in need.
Blackman, Andrew. “Can money buy you happiness?” Wall Street Journal, Dow & Jones Company, 10 November 2014, https://www.wsj.com/articles/can-money-buy-happiness-heres-what-science-has-to-say-1415569538, Accessed on 13 October 2021.
Dunn, Elizabeth, and Courtney, Chris. “Does More Money Really Make Us More Happy?” Harvard Business Review, 14 Sept. 2020, https://hbr.org/2020/09/does-more-money-really-makes-us-more-happy, Accessed on 15 October 2021.
Gervais, Sarah. “Can Money Buy Happiness?” Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 11 Nov. 2015, https://psychology.unl.edu/can-money-buy-happiness, Accessed on October 13 2021.