Can Money Buy Happiness?

I once had a cute little refrigerator magnet that said, “money can’t buy happiness but it can buy a week in the Bahamas”.

Your level of happiness is never determined by your purchasing power.  Of course, having access to enough money to be comfortable is preferable to living in poverty but it does not insure your happiness.

The Boston Globe ran an interesting article some time ago drawing from research into that time worn question: Can money buy happiness?  The study found that “there’s a certain point beyond  which people have enough to comfortably feed, clothe, and house themselves, having more money – even a lot more money – makes them only a little bit happier”.

These days money is a hot topic  – how much you have, will you have enough, where you spend or don’t spend, what you buy, how much of it you save, etc. – partially due to the state of the economy.

The freedom to travel when you want, free from debt, designer clothes, and plenty of time to enjoy leisure activities can significantly contribute to a sense of well-being but can money buy happiness?

What do you think it takes for you to be happy?

  • A vacation home in the Caribbean?
  • Winning the mega lottery
  • Freedom from debt
  • Jet setting around the world
  • A lavish home and lifestyle
  • The latest designer fashions

If you notice, all of the things above are dependent on external sources and does not come from a place of internal joy and satisfaction. If you truly want to be happy, try these suggestions:

  • Laugh more- There’s a reason laughter and yoga laughter clubs are taking off like a rocket.  More and more, people are recognizing the benefits of including time for laughter in their lives.
  • Enjoy music – Music does more than soothe the savage beast. Studies find music can relieve stress, activate hormones that produce feelings of happiness and relaxation.
  • Count your blessings – Show gratitude daily. Take five minutes to focus on the things that you are grateful for the things you already have in your life.
  • Cultivate enjoyable interests – People who engage in stimulating, interesting hobbies experience fulfillment, pleasure and an overall sense of well-being. In a 2009 survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 96% of the people surveyed engaged in some sort of leisure activity. It’s interesting to note that the study did not say if these leisure activities brought the respondents a level of fulfillment and joy.

Happiness is the “ultimate currency” a phrase coined in the book,  Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar. The book is written based on a popular, “Positive Psychology” class at Harvard University, taught by Ben-Shahar.  He teaches in his class and book that happiness can actually be learned by applying a combination  of  pleasure (short-term happiness) and meaning (long-term).

Your happiness is an internal state of and is not determined by the amount of currency you have, your status or education.  The pleasure and meaning you derive from your life are important components to your happiness. Of course, money certainly can contribute to overall satisfaction, but can money buy happiness?



Gladys Anderson - Life Coach, Therapist, Author


Certified Life Coach, Family therapist and Group Coaching Specialist, Gladys M. Anderson, helps nurses, teachers, social workers, therapists and other care-giving women to set limits so they have more time, more joy and more energy for self-care. Get my FREE special report: Building Strong Boundaries to Create More Breathing Space in Your Hectic Life and stay in touch with me by email for more self-care tips.


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