Does Money Bring Happiness?

That’s the million-dollar question. It’s been asked in all shapes, sizes, and forms – does money or success really bring happiness? Does having more money make you happy? 

To adequately answer the question, let us first consider what happiness is. 

What really is happiness?

A quick search online, and the most common definition you will find is that it is a feeling of joy, contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment. I’d like to take it further and venture that happiness is not so much about an emotion (feeling) as it is about a state of being.

In my opinion, happiness consists of the following elements:

  1. Satisfaction – being happy with the fact that you achieve certain goals or desires. This comes from achievement or attainment.
  1. Fulfillment – the feeling that you are doing what you ought to be doing in life, and you are succeeding at it. The feeling that your life has meaning, that your life counts for something that goes beyond just yourself.
  1. Contentment – however things are right now is as they should be. This does not remove the possibility of improving things, but it’s the mindset that says, “I am where I need to be at this very moment”, even while aiming to become more.
  1. Peace of mind – arises out of contentment. Your life is governed internally, not by outside factors. You have control of your own emotions, and they are calm.

What happiness is not

  1. Synonymous with, but not the same as, joy. Joy is a more temporary feeling. Something you get as a direct result of an event or a possession. Happiness is more long-term.
  1. Another thing happiness is not, is a feel-good state all the time. Happiness is not something that makes you smile always. Many people have an expectation that people who are happy should be all smile and bubbly all the time, but that is not the truth.
  1. Happiness does not remove bad days and feelings of sadness. The fact that you’re a happy person does not mean it’s all good days for you. As long as you are alive, you are subject to the human condition. You will have bad days, you will have good days. Happiness does not stop your loved ones from dying, nor does it stop you from feeling sad when your loved ones die.

Steady state of happiness

I learned this concept from a book – Upgrade Your Lifestyle. In it, the author introduces the concept of a steady state of happiness, which is your general state of being. 

Just like you can agitate water all you want, but it’ll always go back to its level after the external stimulant is gone, so too, when you experience momentary joy or sadness, your happiness level will eventually go back to your steady state, whatever that is.

So, does money bring happiness?

And now for the real matter! Will making more money or being more successful help me become happier?

The truth is that money or success cannot bring happiness. Now before you go off, listen to what I have to say.

Money, by itself, cannot buy happiness. Most highly successful people, when asked about this, say that after a certain point, money stops being a factor. At that point, more money doesn’t really mean anything for your happiness level.

But it does get to that certain point first.

Truth is, it’s pretty hard to be happy when you’re not sure where your next meal will come from. When you’re anxious because you are knee-deep in debt, the landlord is going to send you out anytime, and you can’t even afford the basic necessities of life.

At this stage, happiness feels like the last thing on your mind, and money is definitely going to be very instrumental in making you happy, unless you can find a nice man to give you these basic things for free, and you can somehow find a way to not feel bad for depending on someone else.

After these things are out of the way, you can then be able to see clearly that your happiness is not tied to money or possessions. But get them out of the way first.

So what can I do to be happy?

Alright, Samuel, you say money cannot make me happy beyond a certain level, then what on earth can I do to achieve this “steady state of happiness”? 

I’m glad you asked!

You see, one very important thing I learned about becoming happy is to start a gratitude practice/journaling.

Simply put, you look at your life and point out the things you are grateful for. It can be as simple as the nice weather this morning, the kid that smiled at you when you were out last night, the beautiful butterflies you can see flying around, the way the cashier responded to you (or the customer, if you were the cashier).

Really, just anything that gives you even a feeling of satisfaction.

To make it more effective, don’t just think about these things in your head, but get a jotter and write them down.

To sweeten the deal even more, make this a daily practice. Add it as a part of your daily routine. And come back to tell me how this works for you.

So, does money buy happiness? Yes, and no. And now you understand why.

PS: The thoughts I have expressed here are just my opinions. They do not constitute professional help or advice.

Samuel is an avid reader and a freelance writer, in that order. He fancies himself funny, but his friends regularly don't laugh at his jokes. I have been a student of personal development for several years, and I created this blog to share my knowledge with others and help them become better versions of themselves.

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