Last Updated 31 Jan 2023

The Idea Can Money Buy Happiness is Interesting?

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The idea of money buying happiness is interesting. Yes, most Americans feel like they do need more money than ever to be happy, but what is that "happiness" they are speaking of? If that idea means owning newer appliances than before, then money can buy you happiness. If that idea is going out to eat dinner more often, then money can buy you happiness. But, if happiness is truly living one's life to the fullest, then money cannot buy happiness. Americans know that this idea of happiness is materialistic and shallow, and they are quick to point it out in others, but cannot see it in themselves. Money cannot buy happiness, unless happiness is measured by possessions.

Happiness from money is very short lived. While the happiness of people who receive large sums of money might rise immediately after they receive that money, that happiness declines to only slightly above or equal to their level of happiness before the money came to them.

Today, with money, people have a greater purchasing power than ever before. A large expendable income leads to the purchasing of unnecessary, but by today's standards, important, goods. Although we are a richer nation, since 1957, the number of Americans who say they are "very happy" has declined from 35 to 32 percent, the divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide has tripled, the violent crime rate has quadrupled, and more people than ever are depressed (Myers).

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Our society's perception of success also contributes to unhappiness amongst Americans. A new set of values has been adopted by many Americans putting a high salary job with lots of prestige above a successful marriage or close friends. It is this skew in values that has helped to make Americans unhappy.

People need to put the things that matter most to their happiness in front of the things that matter to others' perceptions of them. It is an interesting paradox that although 89% of people say "out society is much too materialistic, 84% wish they had more money, and 78% say it is "very or fairly important to have "a beautiful home, a new car and other nice things." This proves that although people know they are too materialistic, they continue to strive for material possessions.

One problem that leads our society to not be happy although we have such a high standard of living is our ability to adapt. No matter how wealthy a person can become, that person always adapts to that lifestyle. That affluent life style becomes the status quo for that person and they are unhappy because they see themselves as being able to be of a higher social status. We are also always comparing ourselves to others. The proverbial expression "keeping up with the Joneses" proves this. This short statement summarizes how people in America are always comparing themselves to others and trying to be better than them.

I can see this problem of comparing ourselves extremely blatantly on TV. I admit to being an interested viewer of shows such as "MTV Cribs" and "The Fabulous Life of..." on VH1. These shows feature the extravagant homes of entertainment superstars and explain how much money they actually have. Every time I see one of those shows, I feel a small amount of envy that pushes me to strive to become "rich" in the future. I'm sure other people share my feelings about these shows, which goes to explain their popularity.

Happiness in our society is a giant paradox. Although most Americans will say that money doesn't buy happiness, they still feel unhappy with their socioeconomic level. Although I do not believe that money will necessarily buy happiness, I think that this common feeling is good for America. If people were always happy with what they have, they would not strive to better themselves. It is this lust for money and material possessions that make America's economy so strong. No, money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy an amazing nation to live in.

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