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Can Money Buy Happiness? (The Scientific Perspective)


Can Money Buy Happiness? (The Scientific Perspective)


It can’t buy you love for sure, right? Although that may seem true that you could buy a fortune with money but have you ever thought about whether it can buy you happiness?

This question has been discussed among the masses for a long time now – if money or lack of it can impact how happy we are[1]. It might seem startling now that the New Research suggests higher incomes may actually be associated with a more positive outlook on life. Maybe it really is all about the money, honey.

According to me, while talking about happiness, we need to look at it from different viewpoints that what brings happiness to people. Mainly people have longing for big house, good food, branded clothes, fine education for children etc. Not only these materialistic things provide joy[2] but it comes through various life experiences as well. So here are a few things which I guess everyone likes to have in their lives to be called as ‘happy people’ and does money has anything or something to do with them?

Why? Because MacGyver could do anything he put his mind to. He didn’t need a ton of cash to accomplish his tasks, and he made do with what he had.

In business, you are always going to be financially constrained, and there won’t be enough time in the world to get everything done. Yet, you still have to find a way to improve and grow your business.

So here are a few things which I guess everyone likes to have in their lives to be called as ‘happy people’ and does money has anything or something to do with them?


1. Basic Necessities

basic necessities of happiness

For common man, actually everyone, basic necessities include three meals a day, shelter and normal clothes to wear. Obviously, money has a BIG thing to do with it as only money can buy them for us.

2. Life Experiences

happiness giving life experiences

Usually people love to do something different in their lives, like underwater diving, rafting, going on road trips and many more to get the beautiful experiences of life.  People usually say, not money but life experiences brings them happiness[3]. Inevitably all this requires huge amount of money.

3. Helping Needy

helping needy gives happiness

A feeling of satisfaction is what we get after helping the one in need[4]. This satisfaction in turn brings happiness[5] to us. Again, if we have resources ourselves, then only we can help the other. Here money might not play a big role but somehow it is required at sometimes.

4. Fulfilling your Desires

fulfilling your desires gives happiness

A man thinks of having many things is life out of which luxury is one. Having a big house to live in, a nice car to drive on, branded clothes to wear etc. do you really think, it is possible without money? No it is not.

According to the study from Princeton university’s Woodrow Wilson School, it gave a value to happiness in 75000$ in US. The lower is the earning of a person than 75000$, the unhappier they are. But it also states that even if this earning rises, it hardly affects their emotional well being because the its not only money but their own temperament and their life conditions I swhat matters.

Another issue comes into being after discussing all about the association of money and happiness, that is

Is the level of happiness different in different countries (developing and the developed ones)?

Economist Richard Easterlin of University of South California, has been studying the concept of national happiness, when he formulated his “Easterlin Paradox“.

“Simply stated, the happiness-income paradox is this: at a point in time both among and within countries, happiness and income are positively correlated,” he said. “But, over time, happiness does not increase when a country’s income increases.”

After this, I would say that money is a conduit for engaging in this world.

It may not cause happiness but it is an enabler.Okay! You don’t want to call it money? Call it ownership or call it possession. Here, we have seen that our basilar needs also require considerable amount of money.

Unsatisfied basilar needs = true unhappiness (no money)

So, money can buy happiness scientifically and psychologically but only if you spend it on the things which really matter to you!

There could be many more things other than money which can make you contented and happy in true meaning. Want to know them? read 17 great Ways to Happiness as your smile goes wider.


[1] Hsee CK, Hastie R. Decision and experience: why don’t we choose what makes us happy?. Trends Cogn Sci. 2006 Jan;10(1):31-7. Epub 2005 Nov 28.

[2] Garcia D, Sikström S. A collective theory of happiness: words related to the word “happiness” in Swedish online newspapers. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2013 Jun;16(6):469-72. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0535. Epub 2013 Apr 27.

[3] Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton. High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 September 21; 107(38): 16489–16493. Published online 2010 September 7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1011492107 PMCID: PMC2944762.

[4] Keiko Otake, Santoshi Shimai, Barbara L. Fredrickson. Happy people become happier through kindness: a counting kindness intervention. J Happiness Stud. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2007 March 13. Published in final edited form as: J Happiness Stud. 2006 September; 7(3): 361–375. doi: 10.1007/s10902-005-3650-z.

[5] Martin E P Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. Happiness, excellence, and optimal human functioning. Journal ListWest J Medv.174(1); Jan 2001PMC1071226.

Photo credit: VinothChandar / / CC BY


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