The Price Tag on Happiness

By: Martina I.

Money can buy happiness. However, it can only buy ephemeral happiness. Ephemeral happiness lasts a very short time. It brings you positive feelings, sometimes of joy, for a little while, then, as it fades away, very often, it brings you more sadness than it ever gave you happiness. You powerlessly drift back to the bore and mediocrity of your daily routine, now filled with even more melancholy and unfulfilled desire. The emotions you feel after eating an ice-cream, receiving a new phone, attending the most expensive university in the world, buying a 20 million dollar penthouse, a new sports car, or a dozen new pairs of Chanel shoes, are as strong as they are temporary and insignificant in the general scheme of your daily lives, and the way you feel about yourself and your accomplishments.

Money can sometimes buy serenity; never having to worry about economic stability must be nice, although this is often counterbalanced by other worries that come with great wealth, such as uncertainty over relationships and fear of isolation, as proven by the American Psychology Association. The fact is, however, that serenity is not happiness, and neither is ephemeral pleasure. Some people make a very severe mistake. They confuse the possession of commodities, be they frivolous or vital, with being happy. Undeniably, as indicated by Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, there is a positive correlation between having such commodities, especially when they are vital, and stating that you are happy. At the same time, however, if we examine the university’s findings closely, we notice that they could in fact be interpreted as proving that what a person desires is a comfortable style of living, and not having a large number appear when you log into your bank account. Apparently, after reaching a benchmark of $75,000 annually, there is no correlation between money and declared happiness. Below, this benchmark, however, people tend to be more unhappy. The fact that after having reached an annual income that allows a person to have everything they need to live in serenity with no imposing worries, more money does not make a person have a more positive outlook on life and be happier, proves that money cannot make a person permanently and consistently happy on its own. Moreover, luxurious commodities are not a necessary condition for there to be happiness. Every single thing that human beings need to lead a natural life and stay alive can be obtained without the use of money. Food can be grown or harvested from the wild and eaten, water can be drank from pure streams, and basic shelter can be easily fabricated or found. Therefore, the argument that people may not stay alive if they do not have money is null and void. It is especially mockable when considering that ignorance of history that it stems from. In fact, human beings have inhabited this earth for thousands of years prior to the invention of money, and I surely doubt that no one in the entire human population was happy.

When asked whether money can buy happiness, a superficial person would immediately answer that it can, and proceed to present you with an ignorant argument masked by what appears to be decent logic. They will declare that money can buy water, food, shelter, luxuries, education, and a number of other things that make people happy. At this point, without realizing it, they will already have indirectly undermined their first assumption that having money makes people happy. In fact, it is the water, food, shelter, luxuries, or education that brings happiness, not money itself. I am sure everyone here would agree that having a private jet would make you happy. Let me ask you something, does it make any difference whether that jet is bought for you using money or whether it’s given to you for free?

The ultimate proof that money can’t buy happiness is that generally, people enjoy objects more when they are given to them as gifts, rather than when they have to pay for them. If you were given the option between getting something you want for free or having to pay, which option would you chose? This proves that it’s the object itself and not money that brings happiness.

In conclusion, while it is obvious that money can buy ephemeral happiness quite easy, the presence of it does not guarantee happiness, as ephemeral happiness is not true happiness and has little effect over people in the long-term.



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