Can Money Lead to Happiness?

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Money, Money, Money! Who doesn’t love money? Who doesn’t want to be rich? I’m sure we all do. I certainly do. What problems can money not solve? You would think that it would solve every problem ever because that seems to be the only thing people care about­­ –money. But, does money lead to happiness? 

Money can solve a lot of problems in your life like car payments, bills, tuition, and so forth. You may never have to worry about any financial problem that may come your way and that can definitely alleviate stress in your life. But, just because you’re less stressed, doesn’t mean you’re fully happy. Some studies suggest that money can, in fact, make you happy, but people are spending it on the wrong things! Money can make you happy but to a certain degree. Constantly spending money on superficial or material things like clothes, a new phone, or cars won't make you happy forever. It might make you happy for a few weeks but it won't be sustained because that happiness doesn't go deep enough.

In 2010, the New York Times published an article about this topic and how it relates to happiness. The studies found that the number one category related to happiness was not a material item. They found that the people who were happiest spent their money on leisure activities like vacations, entertainment, and equipment used to enhance their personal life like yoga mats, books, surf boards, etc… What does that say? It says that money can buy happiness as long as you are spending it on things that enhance your life. If you love to do yoga, you can buy a yoga mat and can also take yoga classes. The mat is a material object but it is not making you happy. Practicing yoga is what’s making you happy.

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Happiness is not determined by how much a person earns but by how they spend it. Also, as stated earlier, people are much happier when spending their money on experiences rather than material items. Experiences actually provide more happiness and long lasting value. People adapt to change rather quickly so when you buy that new iPhone, it might be exciting at first but then you get used to it and it doesn’t make you happy any longer. Then, you start looking forward to the next best thing.

 I know first hand that spending money on experiences have a farther better impact on me than spending on material possessions. Whenever I buy clothes, shoes, or jewelry, I am excited for a while because it's new and who doesn't like new things? But, after a few days, I have completely forgotten about them,and I am already looking to buy more things. When I spend money on experiences like I do for Carnival, it is just so much more worthwhile. I have the time of my life with my friends and people I’ve never even met before. We dance on the streets, get loose and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Everyone is smiling and having the time of their lives. That’s something I can never replace. I can always replace a new pair of shoes. I cannot replace experiences. They are with me forever. 

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Wealth is the ability to truly experience life (Henry David Thoreau). It is the experiences you have in life that determine how rich you are, how full you are. You can go through life and have nothing to show but stuff or you can live your life and have endless stories, photographs, and memories. That is the life I want to live; The life that is full of experiences, laughs, smiles, adventures, hugs... and love. I want to be rich in love. There are people who have money and there are people who are rich (Coco Chanel).

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I am not saying you should not buy nice things. I am saying that you should spend more money on experiences rather than material things. I will always love clothes, shoes, makeup, etc… I am obsessed with makeup and sometimes I just want to get everything. But, I know that I cannot have everything that I want. Everyone deserves to have nice things but they should not be the sole root of your happiness, because they are just things. If you crash your car that you love so much, are you never going to be happy again? If you rip your favorite pair of pants, are you never going to smile again? Yes, you will because they can be replaced. I know some people like to argue that it is just spiritual talk and that money is an important part in how well you do in life and the people who say money isn’t important are just liars. Yes, money is important but it should not be the most important.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with working hard and having the money to show for it. That is what I want to do. I want to work hard and be able to take care of myself and my family. But, I want to spend my money on things that will enhance my life. Perhaps I can start a business and do something that I love to do. That is a great way to spend your money – by investing in yourself. There are many ways I can spend my money while having nice things and a full life.

Spend your money wisely on things that will enhance your life and allow you to experience all the joys this beautiful world has to offer. You do not want to look back on your life and say you did not live it to the fullest.

Jenai Charles