Download: Can Money Buy Happiness?
The instinctive answer to this question is generally a resounding ‘No!’ But, money does go a long way towards buying happiness when you think about it in the context of freedom and in some circles of life, status.. Most people will be reluctant to admit it. But designer handbags, fast cars and the latest mobile phones must carry some degree of satisfaction (however temporary that might be!). If not, why else would people buy them in the first place?
What this highlights is a fundamental issue over talking about money. It’s a touchy topic, and definitely not something we talk about in polite company! Understandably, this arises because people are increasingly aware of the feelings of others. Talking to someone with either a lot more, or less, than you can make that person feel very uncomfortable. Perhaps they might feel inadequate if they have less, or guilty if they have more. But, irrespective of how much money you have, there are valuable lessons you can learn from the question of whether money can buy happiness.
Thanks to extensive research into both human behaviour and psychology, we can come to understand the objects and experiences that contribute most to people’s happiness. We can also decipher how to get our hands on these objects and experiences, and what that might cost us.
The debate over the path to happiness is perhaps one best left to the philosophers and poets rather than those seeking a quantifiable answer. What we can do, however, is look at the research that exists and see what conclusion it points to in terms of how our spending affects our enjoyment of life. Put simply, not all purchases are created equal. The same £100 can have a wildly different impact on our happiness, both short and long term, depending on what we choose to do with it.
How Our Attitude Can Dictate Our Happiness
There is research to suggest that intangible experiences, such as a holiday, a special meal at your favourite restaurant or a trip to the theatre can actually provide joy for longer than a physical object that would remain in your possession long after the final curtain call.
Amit Kumar is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas researching the science of happiness. Kumar explains that ‘experiences are fleeting, but not in a psychological sense. They live on in our memories, they live on in the stories we tell.’ This statement is shown to be true in research conducted by Carter and Gilovich, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2010.
The study demonstrates that while the satisfaction gained from the purchase of a material item tends to decrease over time, the opposite is true with purchases of experiences. This means that money is a vehicle for happiness. And once we recognize that, we can use the knowledge to boost even more happiness. Effectively, we can ensure that money does buy happiness! And that really is something to talk about!
So, if you’d like to talk to someone about yours – please do give us a call. We are expert, professional advisors and we’d love to see how we can help you find your ‘happy!’
Written by Chris Page
Chris is an experienced financial service professional who joined the business in 2013, as a result of his hard work and dedication he was made a director of the firm late 2014.