Does money buy happiness? In a nutshell - No. Money can never buy happiness BUT it does buy convenience.
My view is completely subjective, but I've been really broke before and pretty well off before and all I can say is this - when you can't afford to pay to have the holes in your teeth fixed or buy the people you love even a small gift at Xmas, then life is pretty miserable. When you're thousands in debt and you know that within a few weeks you're probably going to be bankrupt, have your credit rating destroyed and possibly never have another chance at a reasonable life, the stress crushes you. You lose the ability to laugh, even to smile.
The worst thing about having no money in a country where nearly everyone has it is the personal feeling of failure that accompanies the situation. You hate your life and you hate being who you are and you regret every decision you ever made that led to the point you're at. At this point, killing yourself becomes a real option.
Maybe money can't buy happiness, but it can buy freedom, comfort, first class medical and dental, high quality food, and a plane ticket to a warm beach when you feel you need to get away from it all.
Money is human happiness in the abstract: he, then, who is no longer capable of enjoying human happiness in the concrete devotes his heart entirely to money. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) ;))
The most important thing that excess money buys you is the freedom to not have to sell your time for money. After that is shelter and food/water, paying for your kids' education and socking away money so that our families can live decently in old age and be able to do a little traveling.
If you are rich:
1. Would you get stuck at a 9 to 5 job, that is physically exhausting and mentally not stimulating?
2. Would you care about office politics?
3. Would you go to the office, when you are sick?
4. Would you kiss the ass of your boss?
On the flip side when you have a lot of money it can cause misery.
I spent some time in a couple places in the Caribbean with 3rd-world economic conditions, where large families commonly live in one-room shacks w/o utilities. I was fortunate enough to be able to also spend some time with the richest people on the island(s), hotel/resort owners and the like.
From what I could tell, on the whole, the poor villagers seemed much happier than the richer people. The rich griped on and on about how everyone was out for their money, the government was robbing them blind, the taxes are killing them, etc. The villagers were smiling and friendly. They did not seem angry to be poor. The poor neighborhoods had little crime. Strangers would help each other.
The area certainly has its problems, I do not mean to idealize poverty, but it is different there. It's always warm, and enough good food grows wild so that no one ever really goes hungry, maybe.
Being poor (as long as you aren't starving and homeless) is not the end of the world and being rich isn't a panacea. Find a number that makes you happy, get that number and be happy! There's no need to live on Ramen noodles but no need to stress about having a Lexus with 18" rims or whatever you're supposed to have.
Get perspective. Get satisfaction. Most of you are White Americans or Europeans. You've got it good from birth!
Here's another fact. If you have any money at all in your wallet and any kind of bank account regardless of how much is in there, you are among the wealthiest 8% of the Earth's population. Now, really stop and think about that for a second. Then think about the Rwandan man who had his foot sawed off with a dull knife in a Rwandan court because he was caught stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. Compare our pursuit and questioning of happiness and wealth with a large portion of the planet that lives in apathy and utterly without hope.
We here in Europe and other wealthy countries often measure our happiness relative to a very narrow vision of what we see around us, rather than the actual reality in the larger sense. We look at the rare .001% of the World. population, i.e. the moguls, CEO's, celebrities, etc., and we compare our lot to THAT??? All of us here, by virtue of the simple fact that we have the leisure time to post our rants and chatter here, are at the upper end of human existence, and by all rights should be on balance among the happiest people on Earth. It sometimes may be hard to see that when trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage, etc, and surely it leads to stress, but relative to people in the world who actually live in such apathy that death would be a welcome respite, it's really not so bad.
Would I like a bigger house, a new car, and to not worry about the monthly household budget? Sure. But damned if I'm not grateful, thankful and happy for everything I have right now.
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