Free Essay On Money And Happiness
There has often been much debate on the age old question of whether or not money buys happiness. Do people who make more money live happier lives than those do not? In the article “The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People,” by David Myers, he examines the characteristics of happy people in relation to money to answer this question. Myers conclusion is that money does not directly lead to happiness, which is something I have found true in life as well.
David Meyers examines many statistics and polls regarding money and happiness to answer this question. Myers begins by showing how generally, people living in Westernized countries self-report that they are relatively happy. Meyers cites a study that asked individuals to pick a face which best describes how they are feeling, and nine out of ten people chose a happy face (Meyers 16). There are other statistics cited by Meyers that shows most people self-report themselves as being happier than depressed. Of course, Meyers also shows how depression rates are rising in America, so there must be several factors that affect happiness. Myers basic argument is that while money can increase happiness is a person in living in extreme poverty, there is a certain point that money becomes irrelevant to happiness.
In order to show this, Meyers examines if people’s happiness rises as they become wealthier. A correlation exists between people living in countries who have a GDP of less than $8,000 per person. However, after that income level, there really is no correlation to happiness and money, meaning that there are other factors in play (Meyers 19). Meyers shows a graph of Americans who self-report themselves as being very happy, and the level has stayed consistent the last 50 years, despite the fact Americans have grown wealthier during this time. This trend has been proven true in other Westernized countries like Japan and Britain. Therefore, once a basic level of needs can be provided, money really does not buy happiness.
After establishing this fact, Meyers examines what actually makes people the happiest, and his research shows that close relationships among friends and spouses contribute best to happiness. Meyers shows that people who are married report higher levels of happiness, as does the ability to have close friendships (Meyers 23). It is human nature to want to get to close to people, and have a social support network, and these findings correlate to happiness much more than money.
The results that Meyer finds in his study have held true for me in my life as well. Seeing as I have always had the basic level of necessities provided, my happiness has never been tied to my income level. Generally the times I feel the worst or least happy has been times where I have struggled in friendships, or in some activity. With that being said, it is often easy to think that making more money would lead to increased happiness. Myer even described in his study that while most people deny that money can buy happiness, when asked if a little more money would increase happiness, most people said yes (Meyers 16). I have often found myself thinking this as well, because then I could go on more trips, or go out to eat a bit more. However, these material things can only increase happiness temporarily, which is why life-long relationships lead to greater happiness. However, even though the facts and statistics point to money not creating happiness, American culture certainly appears to reflect the opposite.
In another reading, Juliet Shor examines this addictive spending patterns in America and why these are detrimental to many people. Shor explains that there is this completive spending problem among Americans because most people are usually thinking about or planning their next spending spree or item they would like to own. They also tend to buy items not worth the price, and that do not actually end up being used. The reason for this is that the culture of consumerism attempts to keep Americans always trying to keep up with each other and outspend or out-luxury another person. For people who try not to conform to these destructive patterns, it usually results in a loss of social standing because for so many Americans, the material possessions define a person (Shor 1999).
This research by Shor also builds on the article written by Meyers. It explains why once the basic necessities are taken care, money does not really buy happiness. The competitive nature of consumerism can keep many people from truly feeling gratified, and Shor even noted how many Americans do not even fully use the things they purchase. This shows that money actually can directly lead to unhappiness as well. Consumerism is something that can be destructive to a person’s outlook on life and really inhibit a person from getting true satisfaction. While I too often find myself wanting a new gadget, I try to live a relatively simple lifestyle because I strongly believe personal relationships matter much more than possessions or money. I can deal with not always having the most up to date technology or fashion trend, because it is way too easy in American society to obsess over these things.
Therefore, Meyers’ argument that money is not the key to happiness is correct. My personal experiences in life, as well as the research by Juliet Shor have confirmed this. While happiness is dependent upon having basic needs taken care of, consumerism and a materialistic obsession often counteracts the benefits of never having to worry about money.
Meyers, David. "The Funds, Friends, and Faith of Happy People." American Psychological Association, 1 Jan. 2000. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. <http://www.davidmyers.org/davidmyers/assets/Funds.friends.faith.pdf>.
Schor, Juliet. "Chapter 4: When Spending Becomes You." The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999. Print.
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