For as long as history can remember, powerful people have pushed the narrative that having more money does not equate to having more joy and contentment. While it’s true; money doesn’t automatically make anybody happier, a recent study conducted by economists at the University of Michigan has revealed a surprising truth: Having more money does actually lead to some degree of improved wellbeing.
As these new studies continue to emerge, it begs the question: Is money really all that bad? Could it be that this popular story—pushed by the wealthy—is nothing more than a convenient excuse kept in their arsenals to avow responsibility of their own mistakes or lack of foresight into their investments? Have they been lying to us all along?
It's easy to understand why so many powerful people would perpetuate the “money can’t buy you happiness” mantra; after all, they already possess financial wealth while many of us are struggling just to make ends meet. Nobody likes the idea of being scrutinized for their wealth or being judged as inferior if they don’t have the same means.
In the article ‘New Research Debunks the “Money Can’t Buy You Happiness” Myth’ published by Forbes Magazine, the author notes that ‘having a higher income improves one’s chances of having better levels of emotional wellbeing’. It follows then, that “certainly, the extreme pursuit of money at the sacrifice of all else is hardly a recipe for long lasting happiness”, implying that money can indeed buy temporary happiness, but true joy and contentment can only come from our relationships, experiences, and appreciating the moment.
Much of our beliefs about money stem from our childhood and how we were raised to think about money. We are socialized to associate money with bad qualities and characteristics, such as greed, insensitivity and selfishness. But what kind of message does this portray? Is being unable to buy luxury items a sign of being unfulfilled or unsuccessful? Of course not.
Money can’t buy an automatic golden ticket to success, however, without a thick wallet, someone cannot even take part in many aspects of society. This often leads to feelings of exclusion or hopelessness due to their financial limitations. It goes without saying that having money grants access to a world of opportunities most of us can only dream of. It also brings with it a certain level of control, stability, freedom and financial security.
Of course, money isn’t everything and having it won’t guarantee perpetual happiness. Nor will it solve all your problems. As the saying goes, “Money can’t buy you love.” It’s important to remember that money alone will never be enough to fill our lives with meaning and purpose. But, who’s to say that having it won’t improve your quality of life?
So; was it a lie when the rich said money wouldn't buy happiness?
Yes, it appears so. In light of the recent studies, we can conclude that money does play a role in our overall wellbeing. However, it is not a panacea, and should never replace living in the present and working on our relationships and experiences.
The truth about money is that it can help us on our path to happiness and contentment, but it cannot replace the core elements of a full, balanced, and meaningful life.