Thursday, October 30

Can money buy happiness?

It's the eternal question, isn't it?


Currently, it's being tackled by Tricia over at Blogging Away Debt, though it's been posed by many other a PF blogger, like Crystal over at Brunette on a Budget.


I honestly don't know if there is an answer to the question, because so much depends on the person involved.


If you're unhappy in general -- you feel like you don't have any real friends, your career isn't going how you had hoped, you feel empty, your relationship isn't working out -- then no, money won't buy you happiness.


It will buy you things and people who call themselves your friends. But unless you're the ultimate narcissist, this life seems like it would ring hollow. (If you are a complete narcissist, well then it's all fine, so long as you always have people around willing to flatter you and pretend to like you. Everyone wins.)


I find joy in my life through other people. Perhaps I'm overly attuned to interpersonal relationships because my disability isolates me so often. I don't know.


What I do know, however, is that if I had all the money a gal could want, and no real friends or loved ones to experience it with, I would be bitterly unhappy.


I suppose that sounds cheesy and cliche. Maybe even trite. But I hate operating in a vacuum. (Actually, I hate vacuums, period. That's why Tim got the floors on the chore list.)


I crave interaction. Sure, we all dream about having money and the good times it could bring. But most of those good times probably involve someone alongside you. To me, part of money's allure is that I would be able to splurge on the people I care about.


The fact is, for me "stuff" doesn't cut it. Gadgets are cool and fun. But they're not real companions. Traveling the world would be thrilling, but not without someone to experience it with -- or at least to describe it all to when you get back.


The problem with human need is that it's insatiable. Most of us will probably never quite feel like we have enough money. There could always be a little more in the retirement funds, in the emergency fund, or in your investments. And for people who fill up their lives with gadgetry and luxury, there will always be a new doodad out on the market.


Either way, we'll never be done. Most of us spend our whole lives convinced that if we just {fill in activity here}, we could be happy and content. But there's always going to be another, bigger goal that we could achieve. The trick, cheesy as it sounds, is in finding contentment with what we already have. Anything above that is nice, but not life-making (or breaking).


So, on review, I guess I do have the answer, after all. It seems like I'm actually pretty staunchly against the idea that money can buy happiness.


Make no mistake: It can make life easier and more fun. Those can each be mistaken for happiness. But long-term happiness -- at least, for me -- isn't contained in possessions or experiences. It's in sharing my life with people I care about.


You know, I'm actually a little horrified at how cliche my true feelings are. But, in the end, it doesn't matter. Because I have people who accept me, even when I'm saccharine-y sweet. I'm off to watch something jaded and disillusioning before I start writing cards for Hallmark.

5 Comments:

Blogger Bonochick said...

What money can buy is peace of mind. If money wasn't an issue, I wouldn't have shed any tears when I had car repairs earlier this year that cost me over $2,000. I would have just gotten it taken care of and moved on with my life. It wouldn't have been a big deal.

Then again...maybe the struggles make us more appreciative of all that we have. Maybe the fact that I'm still feeling those car repairs due to the ginormous dent they did to my savings account has a silver lining.

Silver lining or not though, I'd still rather have that money in my account...*sigh*

October 31, 2008 at 6:23 AM

 
Blogger J. Money said...

yeah, that's def. a tricky question. in theory i say money CAN buy happiness in that you can spend more time w/ those people you care for, and less time on worrying about money situations....

but then looking back throughout my life, i've been pretty happy WITH and WITHOUT money equally....so who knows.

i'm just glad to be alive ;)

October 31, 2008 at 8:00 AM

 
Blogger Abby said...

Well put, Bonochick!

I would like to think that I could remain appreciative of having some money and not having to worry about unexpected expenses.

But still, we have to make the best of things, I suppose.

October 31, 2008 at 8:49 AM

 
Blogger Abby said...

J. Money,

Yes, I suppose life is precious. I was reminded of that recently when I was contacted by a woman whose 39 year old daughter has Guillain-Barre Syndrome. She's even in the same long-term care hospital I was. Strange times. I sometimes feel like the universe is trying to tell me something, though it could just be my little mind trying to seek out patterns in the entropy.

October 31, 2008 at 8:52 AM

 
Blogger Shevy said...

Bonochick is right. What money buys is peace of mind, a feeling of security, a "space" in which you can then be happy.

I don't mean living in your dream home, although that wouldn't be a bad thing. I mean that everything else isn't pressing in on you, distracting you from the good aspects of life.

It can also free up time (for instance when you don't have to take that 2nd job to make ends meet or pay that unexpected bill), or allow you to do things that cost a certain amount of money with people you love, like taking the kids to pick apples in the fall and go for a hayride.

October 31, 2008 at 9:48 AM

 

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