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Suanna Morón

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Can money really buy happiness?

Okay, so we have all heard this question before. I know that for a fact we're all told that money doesn't buy happiness. But when you actually think about it can it? With money you can buy so many things you want that could make you happy. But you can't buy the fundamentals in life. I just want people's opinions on this cause I always hear such contradicting answers.

Topics: life money people
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  • Apr 29 2013: "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it." -
    1 Timothy 6:6-7
    "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" -
    1 Timothy 6:10

    Money is a good servant but a bad master.
    If someone is a slave of money, it can never bring him or her happiness.
  • Apr 28 2013: There are a lot of reasons to be unhappy. Hunger, no place to live, poor health, unable to make ends meet, watching your loved ones suffer are a few. Money can help solve some of these problems. If all it takes in your life is to solve one problem, and money can solve the problem, then money just bought your happiness. This example shows it is possible.

    However, rarely does solving one problem make someone happy.More money without knowling how to handle it can also create more problems than it solves. You become a target for people looking to get some of your money, you might invest in things that require a continued investment, you might adopt a lifestyle you cannot sustain. These things will create misery in your life and make you unhappy. Therefore, it is possible to to have money and not be happy.

    I think happiness comes from within and has little to do with how much money you have in your bank account, so long as it is enough to meet your needs. The trick in life is to be happy with the money you have and adopt a lifestyle that is far enough below your means to enable you to be in control of your life.
    • Apr 29 2013: yes. happiness comes from within. and true, bank balance doesn't really count if you can be Content.
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    Apr 28 2013: This question is debated since a very long time. Happiness in itself is an internal feeling. It's not material. Therefore, money can't buy it. But there are some conditions leading to that internal feeling. In fact, the fundamental needs should be satisfied. Studies have shown that, to that level, money can play a significant role in happiness. But when you have your fundamental needs satisfied, its role become less obvious. What determine the level of happiness, to that level, is society, family and more spiritual things.
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    May 4 2013: Well ..

    When I had infinite money .. it was exciting .. it was interesting .. but it bought? .. not happiness . it bought satiety .. it bought dominance .. it bought confidence .. it bought opportunity .. it bought stimulation . it bought envy .. it bought emulation .. it bought advantage - huge advantage.

    No no happiness - I remained with the happiness I possessed before infinite money came along .. but I'll tell you this:

    The basis of my happiness collapsed as the money allowed me to make mistakes that would not be made without infinite money .. and when infinite money proved to be finite?
    I found myself in a place of hardness - not so bad .. I had to re-build the basis of my happiness ..

    All in all, I would wish that I never met infinite money .. the damage it did is still not fully repaired .. but what I lost in happiness . I gained in Wisdom - what is wisdom?
    It is how you can help others to be happy.

    Is anything lost? Maybe .. probably .. this wisdom can only be used by those who fall from infinite money .. plenty of them, but .. a net loss to our people.

    If I can get people to find their work and stop being job-slaves .. then the damage will be healed.
    The final accounting of that happens when I die - it probably will not appear in any ledger this side of the Styx.
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    May 1 2013: Money, for me, is a means of exchange. But who can I 'buy happiness' from? Only me, and I decide what the price is.
  • Apr 30 2013: Hi Suanna,
    first of all, I love your profile picture. Nothing beats a good handlebar mustache!

    Now, your question... I guess it really depends on your own definition of 'happiness'.

    Take Person A. He followed the path society set out for him. He finished school, got a job, is now earning money and consuming like society's idea of a good citizen should. He works hard to earn the money to keep up this way of living, which keeps expanding, which leads him to the next stages of achievement and success, promotions, longer hours, less time at home. But, he has an awesome car that's in the parking garage all day and a yacht he never has time to use. He might or might not give much thought to whether or not he is truly happy, but considers himself successful in achieving the goals set for him by our western civilization, which, to him, may well be the same thing. He is concerned about meeting his materialistic 'needs'.

    Now take Person B. She went to school, and was on the road to achieving society's level of success, when she got hit by a car. Suddenly, she physically couldn't pursue that money-making career anymore she had studied for, was confined to a wheelchair and had to learn how to walk again.
    She chose to go against the grain of society. She decided to pursue her passion to express herself, which has led to an adventurous career, showing her much of the world and its amazing people.
    She can pay her bills every month, buy food, fill her car with gas. What she purchases, she utilizes, re-uses and recycles. She focused on what she was good at, what she loved to do, and enjoys life in the here and now.

    For person A, money is the key to happiness.
    For person B, happiness is the key to happiness.

    This is admittedly a one-sided view, because I am Person B.

    Alan Watts says it so well: http://www.openculture.com/2012/10/what_if_money_was_no_object_thoughts_on_the_art_of_living_from_eastern_philosopher_alan_watts_.html
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    Apr 29 2013: Not having money is stressful and makes life a grind. The first 3 layers of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - basic, safety and social needs require a certain quantity of money / resources to prevent stress / illness / death. The next layer - esteem may require the person to have more money / resources than most of their peers to enable their esteem to rise above that of others.

    Whether self Actualization requires excessive money depends upon the persons ability to overcome their ego. If a person only feels s/he has reached their full potential when they are richer or more powerful than most other people - they will have to wait until they are rich and powerful before they can be happy.

    Other people cross between esteem needs into self actualization by recognising the pointlessness of the ego and learn that money is not the main cause of happiness - rather good health, self respect, personal freedom, love, peace and charity within our community all contribute more to a sustained form of happiness.

    So, it really depends where you are on the pyramid and how you define reaching your full potential.
    • Apr 29 2013: I agree. I also think that different people will experience different happiness when they become rich. Some people will be able to quit their job and instead work on things they love, even create their own company. Others will start spending their money on lots of stuff, chasing their happiness. You can go to Hawaii only so many times before it stops being attractive. Eventually they will get bored of all of it and become depressed, experimenting with drugs, and experience depression.

      So I think it comes down to whether you are able to make good use of large amounts of money and find motivation to enjoy the money without excess and with a good purpose in your life that will keep you happy for rest of your life?

      cheers
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        Apr 29 2013: Yes, what is that old saying "a fool and their money are easily parted".

        Money allows you to be free to spend your time as you wish - not on your basic needs. If you need little money to live well - you can live the rich life. Keep your costs low and enjoy your life.
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    May 5 2013: I asked myself the same question and I couldn’t reach a definite answer. It depends. What is your definition of happiness? Are we talking about everlasting happiness? Or perhaps we are talking about being happy for a brief moment of our life? Money is a tool that can give you have access to many things. With money you can buy objects such as bags, travel tickets, etc. You don’t spend money to purchase the goods; you do it because of the experience and the feelings associated with the process of buying these goods. Among the feelings you experience there could be happiness. So until this point we could actually say that money buys happiness if we consider happiness a byproduct or benefit of the experience of buying something. But what if what you bought does not satisfy you? What if you don’t have any idea of what you want and you are really confused? Money can give you access to some experiences and then you decide what to make of them. If you appreciate them you can be happy. If you know what you need and you are satisfied with your life money can give you the chance to explore the world, learn new things and discover yourself. On the other hand if you don’t appreciate these experiences that money can give you access to you can have all the money in this world and still not be happy. It all depends on your approach to life and how you see money and the relationship with it.
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    May 3 2013: Don't ever forget that money was create in the service of Humans and not the contrary !
  • May 2 2013: Money cannot buy happiness, it can buy faux-happiness but that fades rapidly.

    Often it seems like those who live Spartan lives are the most happy, it seems to me because the things you own, eventually own you, as you try to keep up with trends and always seeing something a little better, a little sleeker, a little cooler than what you have.
    • May 2 2013: Hi Scott,
      I really like how you call it 'faux-happiness', what a good term!

      Besides the media, I wonder how big a role social media plays in us trying to keep up, and seeking something a little better, sleeker and cooler than what we already have...
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    May 2 2013: It's very simple. It depends on how you define happiness. Money can buy happiness as long as happiness is defined as something you can buy. In other words, if money can help you experience the things that make you happy, then yes...
    • May 2 2013: Hi Olivier,
      I agree to a certain extent...
      I am happy when I can buy gas for my car, groceries to eat, pay the mortgage... but I would be much happier if I could use that money to go to a concert, visit my parents in the states or take my kids to the zoo.
      I 'compensate' by making stuff with kids, having a picnic in the park or riding bikes through the woods. These things don't cost me a cent, but they make me happiest of all.
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    May 1 2013: Suanna, I note you haven't said anything back when people have commented on your question. might be good to mix it up with them.
  • Apr 30 2013: Sure it can !

    Just send me 99.99 - special offer, valid only while stocks last !

    ;-)
    • May 2 2013: Hilarious, Mwenjew.

      Has anyone ever read Shel Silverstein's ABZ Book? His example for the letter 'M' sums it up well:
      http://www.book-by-its-cover.com/wp-content/uploads/abz55.jpg
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        May 4 2013: Shel Silverstein.....my favorite kid's poet.

        He also wrote another poem about money........Enjoy!

        Smart

        My dad gave me one dollar bill
        'Cause I'm his smartest son,
        And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
        'Cause two is more than one!

        And then I took the quarters
        And traded them to Lou
        For three dimes -- I guess he didn't know
        That three is more than two!

        Just then, along came old blind Bates
        And just 'cause he can't see
        He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
        And four is more than three!

        And then I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
        Down at the seed-feed store,
        And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
        And five is more than four!

        And then I went and showed my dad,
        And he got red in the cheeks
        And closed his eyes and shook his head --
        Too proud of me to speak!
        • May 5 2013: Oh, I love that one, Mary!
          I actually had most of 'A Light in the Attic' memorized during poetry weeks at our elementary school, years ago. I still know a lot of them by heart! Thank you for reminding me of this one!
  • Apr 30 2013: The money helps to find happiness, but if you do not have harness base will not advance anything.
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    Apr 30 2013: No. Contentment can. Even a hobo can be happy if he/she is content with what they have. This comes from gratitude, knowing the fact that there are even people who are in worse conditions.

    Okay so /what/ makes me happy? If that's 'having things that give people impressions that......' or something like that, then it's my concept of happiness that's wrong. :)
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    Apr 30 2013: A few extra dollars in my bank account would surely take the stress off meeting financial obligations and, it sure would be nice to have a few extra dollars to spare! No, money does not buy you happiness but it sure can elevate stress and that is a good thing.
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    Apr 30 2013: Happines can not be evaluated by money. One has nothing to do with the other.

    People can be happy with or without money. Indeed often the assumption is there that if I can buy whatever I want, I'll be happy. But that is not true and many news stories will show us this.

    Money can give us many more options and ways to get into trouble and meet the wrong people.
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    Apr 29 2013: There is no place I am aware of that advertises "Buy Happiness Here" ... so by defination .... no impossiable.

    There must be thousands of veriables to this question.

    I would think that in most cases the more shallow the person is the greater the joy. Most lottery winners however have a sad story.

    Being given 100 million to do with as I please .... would put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces .... even mine as I watch the good it could do.

    As for wealth ... my family and I share good health, good times, bad times, and the knowledge that we are a family and there for each oither ... that is the bottom line.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Apr 29 2013: No, but it can sure make some people think it does. Then again, the person could be a sociopath . "Reality is self-induced hallucination."
  • Apr 29 2013: Things can't make you happy. Period. They may bring temporary enjoyment, fun, and meaningful activities, but that's different from lasting happiness. You do need some things to survive, like in Maslow's hierarchy. But survival is not happiness. For happiness, you need to do the right thing and know it, and love the people around you. That brings true joy. Everything else is transient and will fade. Only that will last.
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    Apr 29 2013: If you already know how to be happy, then money is what you need, sure.
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    Apr 29 2013: Remember the last years of Howard Hughes? Money cannot buy inner peace and contentment any more than mascara can cure melanoma.
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    Apr 29 2013: I think, no. Money is a promise that you can exchange for things. Happiness is a mental state and very subjective. I see no connection between the two. I have noticed reference of Maslow's hierarchy of needs by some commenters. The need is for resources to satisfy basic requirements of life - not money, per se. Imagine for the sake of a gedanken, you are in an island all by yourself - it's a flat rocky surface perfectly unyielding and you have unlimited supply of money and nothing else. Another such thought experiment can be : suppose you have unlimited supply of money but there is just one kind of cloth, one kind of dress, one kind of transport, one kind of food, one kind of house - everything just of one kind. Go ahead, buy, you will not violate Maslow's hierarchy, will you be happy?
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    Apr 29 2013: Sorry, meant to type this in response to Kristzian.
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    Apr 29 2013: I read a story recently where researchers (!) found that people were happiest in any society when they earned the amount of money that allowed them to have financial security, but as they earned more, their level of happiness first leveled off, then plummeted as the earnings went much higher. In other words, it appears for many people financial security brings more happiness than overt wealth.
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      Apr 29 2013: did they also research the exact amount that gives financial security? did they research the location and time variance of it? what is the research methodology? did they simply ask, or they somehow measured happiness? if the latter, how?
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        Apr 29 2013: Details of the study can be found here: http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2010/09/study-says-$75,000-can-buy-happiness.html

        As you can see, it's based on 450,000 Americans, so it's biased in that regard. I'm not here to argue for the validity or veracity of the study's findings; but I do think it suggests an interesting conclusion: more money, after a point, doesn't necessarily mean more happiness.
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          Apr 29 2013: "But when asked to assess the happy hours of the previous day – whether people had experienced a lot of enjoyment, laughter, smiling, anger, stress, worry – money mattered only up to about $75,000"

          for example middle class guy says "i was sad yesterday because my car broke, and repairs took away the money saved to buy a new computer for my son"

          and the rich guy says "i was sad yesterday, because my new company does not have the sales we hoped for. we need to rethink our marketing"

          and so the conclusion is that they are equally (un)happy. on the other hand, my conclusion is that another chunk of taxpayer money was wasted in an obviously crappy research.
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        Apr 29 2013: Princeton University is a private university.
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        Apr 29 2013: I'm sorry if I've upset you in some way. I merely found the study anecdotally interesting and said I wouldn't vouch for its veracity or validity. You mentioned this was a waste of taxpayer money, and I merely pointed out the study was conducted at a private university.

        I'm far more interested in the topic of happiness and money than a semantic argument. Have a nice day, Krisztian.
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          Apr 29 2013: the study upsets me. as an engineer, i have some knowledge how to conduct an experiment to exclude subjective factors. it is a complete shame that people can put forward such unsupported results without blushing. for their sake, i assume political activism. it is the best excuse.
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        Apr 29 2013: Fair enough. I read this more as an opinion poll, which can be much more lax in its structure. But as a study, you're correct, it may lack some rigor of an official scientific study.

        Whatever the case, if the results are true, it points to an interesting conclusion: money up to a point is a good thing and, beyond that, may have negative returns.
  • Apr 29 2013: There is a sweet point or is it a Goldylocks point.
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    Apr 29 2013: A hungry person with empty pocket can immediately buy happiness of having food if s/he gets some money in hand
  • Apr 29 2013: depends on what you buy with it??

    happiness is a state of mind. you can buy it, realize it, feel it, meditate on it, crib about not having it... but it is a form of chemical equilibrium.

    happiness can be attained, not purchased. it is a state of existence :)