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Money, Happiness and Satisfaction with Life Essay

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2022

Money has always been known as the symbol of wealth, the key to happiness, and the backbone of livelihood. There is also a widespread opinion that money positively affects the growth of happiness. However, with this drastic growth comes a severe decline, and this is because of the human instinct to be acquisitive. The current essay discusses happiness and argues that the veritable happiness and satisfaction with life come not from money but self-actualization and positive thinking.

One of the fundamental explanations of why happiness is not about money lies in flawed human nature. In the book Leviathan, the prominent philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1651) described the state of nature where people live before the government appears and argues that every person wants to possess as many goods as possible. However, the number of goods is finite, and, therefore, people enter into the state of war of all against all in pursuit of wealth (Hobbes, 1651). Thus, it becomes apparent that even though money gives people access to numerous goods, services, pleasures, and opportunities, they are not always a synonym for joy or health.

Some people might argue that richness is a synonym for happiness because it allows one to actualize oneself through helping people in need. For example, in 2000, Bill and Melinda Gates grounded a foundation aimed at fighting inequality, poverty, and diseases all over the world (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, n.d.). Nonetheless, this case is rather an exception from the common rule. Novack (2008) mentions statistics provided by the Internal Revenue Service revealing that “rich are evasive when it comes to taxes” (para. 1). Indeed, richness and greed seem to be closely related. As 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith (1776) famously said, “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest” (p. 30). World War II is an amplified example of how one persons strive for money and power led to 60 million casualties all around the world. Besides, the modern case of the trade war between China and the US, initiated by the Trump administration in 2018, shows what the ruling elites are capable of destroying the lives of citizens of other countries if financial gain is at stake.

Many people believe that money is the key to happiness because money buys us tangible property such as cars, houses, and gadgets. Furthermore, money is used to pay tuition fees, electricity and water bills, purchase food and clothes, and, therefore, they are the primary means of survival. From this, one might fallaciously infer that money buys happiness. Still, one should not forget that money is incapable of purchasing the desire to learn or live. For instance, prominent actor Robin Williams, Linkin Parks singer Chester Bennington, and coal billionaire Dmitry Bosov committed suicide even though they were not poor and enjoyed fame and public acclaim. The reasons for suicide are another topic for discussion. Nonetheless, the previously mentioned examples should be used to remind us that money alone is not a guarantee of happiness, satisfaction with life, and good health. Money and fame could not prevent a person from depression, incurable illnesses, or alcohol and drug addictions. What is more, money could even stimulate the appearance of some of these problems. Thus, wealth is not a guarantee of happiness and satisfaction with life.

Finally, most people would love to get wealthy without the hard work and impossible tasks that come with it. They think that by doing so, they would never need anything from anyone ever again. From one point of view, money undoubtedly brings independence and is exempt from poverty. Even though there are ways how to earn easy money, these ways are not always legal, honest, or morally right. Without a doubt, winning a lottery is not a crime. Nonetheless, some researchers claim that money could bring self-satisfaction only if earned from hard work. The study conducted by Brickman, Coates, and Janoff-Bulman (1978) proves that lottery winners were in a better mental state before becoming wealthy without any effort. Undoubtedly, after the win, test subjects were immensely happy; however, after the lapse of time, their level of happiness equals one of the paralyzed people (Brickman et al., 1978). And this comes from the fact that with drastic growth in wealth comes a severe decline in happiness.

Taking everything into account, it is vitally important not to forget that one could find happiness in life regardless of any life circumstances. Joy and self-actualization are not about the size of income. Instead, it is about doing what one loves, having friends, staying fit and healthy, and loving and being loved. A person could be genuinely happy when looking at the shining sun, talking to parents, or reading a worthy book. The critical takeaway from the present paper is that joy with life could be accomplished by self-satisfaction and optimistically looking forward to the future without overabundance.

Works Cited

Bill & Melinda Gates foundation (n.d.). Web.

Brickman, P., Coates, D., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 36(8), 917-927. Web.

Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan. St. Pauls Church-yard.

Novack, J. (2008). Forbes. Web.

Smith, A. (1776). The Wealth of Nations. (E. Cannan, Ed.). ElecBook Classics.

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