Money Can’t Buy Happiness. Or Can it?


Bilal Gebril, Staff Writer

Anyone who has read the Declaration of Independence knows, the right to seek happiness is part of our nation’s creed. But when it comes to where to look for it, the instructions are not that clear. Yet, many Americans think money holds the key. And they may be right. Money can buy happiness, but just not in the way you imagined. We are often told that money is the root of all evil because it begets greed and a never-ending cycle of wanting more money. Or rather, it only satisfies your material desires and not your soul. These arguments are no doubt very cogent, but they don’t really go to the heart of the matter. Years of research from psychologists to economists have determined that happiness can be found by spending money on others.

Ok, let’s be real, you can’t go to your nearest CVS and literally buy a bottle of “happiness” for 3.99. We all wish it was that easy, don’t we? So instead we go buy that new iPhone in order to receive a temporary high of fulfillment. Give it a month. Then, back to seeking more temporary instances of fulfillment. According to a Harvard study conducted by the Harvard Business School, a national survey was administered to America’s citizens on their monthly spending on themselves and what gifts they gave to other people or charities. When asked what their level of happiness was, findings described that “those who reported spending more on others, what the team called ‘prosocial’ spending, also reported a greater level of happiness, while how much they spent on themselves had no impact on happiness.” Money cannot buy happiness in itself, but rather your happiness and fulfillment depend on the way that you spend your money.

With great wealth comes great capability. For example, you can pay expensive drug bills to prevent your loved one from dying of a curable but expensive disease. You can breathe a little easier knowing that trip to Switzerland didn’t cost you a two week’s supply of groceries. Of course, it is conceivable to be very happy and poor. 

Nevertheless, for those seeking it, monetary prosperity opens more doors that lead to happiness. Money is one of the things that help you to be happy, even if it is not essential, for those who want to pursue wealth. At the end of the day, money can “buy” happiness indirectly. When you spend that weekly paycheck on charity, or maybe a drink out with your closest friends is fulfilling. Hence, you have a feeling of contempt, and that my friend is happiness.