The Price of Happiness

Matthew - North Liberty, Iowa
Entered on September 18, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

The pursuit of happiness is one of the most fundamental human traits. Some would say that maximizing happiness is the goal of life. But many disagree about how this is done. There is a saying that goes ‘Money can’t buy happiness.’ But I think this view is somewhat misleading. I believe that money can buy the opportunity to be happy, if not happiness itself.

Most people spend their lives working to earn money. Why would people spend the majority of their lives trying to earn money if it didn’t make them happy? Some people might tell you that people work because they love their jobs and their work makes them happy in and of itself. But if this is true why would employers waste resources to pay employees who are already perfectly happy just to do their job. The answer is that money, at least partially, helps makes them happy. Obviously, if you hate your job you will most likely not be happy. But there is a monetary value for anyone at which they would be willing to perform a job they despise. The happiness they derive from the money they receive is greater than the unhappiness they feel working at the job. This point is different for everyone, but it does exist.

Money in and of itself does not make people happy. By itself money is just a piece of paper or a coin or a number on a statement. It is the things that money can buy that make people happy. The most important thing money can buy is freedom; the opportunity to do what you love. If you are financially secure, you are less tied to a job, something that may not optimize your happiness. This idea relates back to the amount of money it would take to make someone do a job they hated. You would only have to do this job for only a short time before you could be financially set for life. This would allow you the freedom to do what really makes you happy, even if it is expensive.

Money can also buy security. In the United States, financial trouble is the top cause of stress and anxiety in adults. Being financially set alleviates this problem. If you don’t have to worry about money, you will be much happier in the long run. So really, in a security sense, money helps avoid worry and stress, things that lead to unhappiness.

Ultimately, money by itself cannot make a person happy. But I believe that it can however, help people avoid unhappiness and it can give them the freedom and the opportunity to do what they love and what makes them happy. However, being wealthy is no grantee of being happy, many wealthy people are not happy. It is up to the individual to maximize the opportunities that money presents. If you do this, you will be happy; in this sense, money can buy happiness.