Monday, July 03, 2006

Does/Could Money buy Happiness?

I read this article in the L.A.Times last week and began to wonder if this study made sense When I look at people who do not have money to even have the bare neccesities of life, I cant imagine them having a better attitude than the person who has money.I know that money cannot buy happiness but it sure can help alleviate hunger, sickness and poverty. I can only imagine how sad the mother of a sick child feels when she is unable to get the best treatment available to cure her child, most of which is accessible to the person with money. I find it hard to believe that the everyday stressors of the rich and poor are alike. May be I am missing something here. I would be interested to hear what you think.

MELVILLE, N.Y. — A psychologist at Stony Brook University on Long Island, collaborating with scientists at other institutions, has discovered what philosophers have long known: Money doesn't make people happier.

Yet the perception that it does continues to motivate people to want more and do more to get more.

In a study that appears today in the journal Science, Arthur Stone, vice chairman of Stony Brook's department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, working with scientists at Princeton University, the University of Michigan and UC San Diego, explore the intangible relationship between money and happiness.

"It's mostly illusory," Stone said. "When you look at people's actual experience, the rich are not happier than others. And if they are, it has little to do with the money they have."

For decades, psychologists would ask people whether they thought others with more money were happier. Of course, they said.

Stone's latest techniques for measuring real-life experiences include a fly-on-the-wall approach, an electronic writing pad that beeps randomly throughout the day to get the volunteer to fill out a mood diary and questionnaires that reconstruct yesterday's experiences.

What he came to realize is that people asked to imagine a future with money, whether for themselves or others, always tend to exaggerate the importance of this single change in circumstance.

He explained that people forget that the everyday stressors and joys of life go on, money or not. "Having a lot of money or a big house has little to do with a person's daily mood," which ebbs and flows depending on the individual and the events of a given day. This is a very different picture than what emerges when people are asked the global question: Does/could money buy happiness?

In the latter case, Stone and his colleagues, including Princeton's Daniel Kahneman, who won a Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 2002, say people tend to exaggerate the benefits of an imagined monetary gain.

"Such questions elicit a global evaluation of one's life," the authors wrote. "Increases in income have been found to have mainly a transitory effect on individuals' reported life satisfaction."

This tendency to think that the grass is greener on the other side is, in psychological parlance, a "focusing illusion."

The reason for the difference between perception and reality is that thinking about the future triggers a cognitive process that exaggerates the positive and the negative.

"People forget that all of the other things in their life don't change," Stone said. "Even in the new circumstances, you will still be the same person with the same problems."

In fact, others have shown that those with a high family income tend to report more intense negative emotions and greater anxiety than those with lower incomes.

What do you think. Does/could money buy Happiness?


samuru999 8:16 AM  

I myself do not believe money
can buy "happiness"
Happiness is a state of mind.
We are happy when we are at peace
with ourselves... and I do not
beleve momey can bring us peace of
mind. It can bring us fancy houses
and fancy cars... but are those the things in life that give you
happiness. Well, maybe for some people... but not for me.
Now, I do like nice things... but,
if I am upset with life... those
superfical things in my life will
not help getting over being upset.
I have to look to my deep inner self for a sense of peace to get over the upset.
If I am able to help someone with
any money I might have to give them
... in that instance "money can make me happy.
Just a few thoughts I have on
this subject... I have many more..
but that is enough for now.

starry nights 8:22 AM  

samuru999....I agree with you that money does not buy happiness, but to say that the daily stress of the person with money and the person without money is the same...I cannot understand. To a certain degree the person with money atleast does not have to stress about where his next meal will come from or if he will be able to pay his bills.There is no peace of mind there.

Alexis Leon 8:35 AM  

Lack of money can make life miserable. Money is a necessity to meets one's needs. After a point the amount of money one has does not make any difference. The amount of money one needs to be comfortable depends on each person.

Can money buy happiness? Yes in some cases; but definitely not in all cases. There are many things in life that money can't buy...

starry nights 8:47 AM  

True cannot buy everything.I am not talking about immense wealth , just enough to make everyones life better.

V N 9:27 AM  

I remember one of my fav teachers of all times scribbling on my notebook a few years back ~ May u always have the one thing that human beings crave for the most, without their ever realising it - Peace of Mind.

I guess everything else is secondary!


samuru999 9:55 AM  

I do agree with you that the daily stress of someone who cannot pay
their next bill would be different
to someone that has money for
But, that person might be just as
happy as the person that has every
My friend that recently passed
away, did not have a lot of money...but, she was always happy.

Mumbai Guy 10:55 AM  

Answer is YES and NO. You can debate both ways. If someone tells me money is not important, either they are lying or they dont have one.

My answer would be YES in that I can do almost whatever I would like to do. And if I have money to buy what I like, watch I like, eat what I like, I think I am happy.

Now I would say NO because money cannot buy relationships which many consider one of the ingredients for happiness. You cannot buy someone you love, you cannot stop someone envious at you, you cannot control emotions.

Bottomline, money makes a difference.

starry nights 1:43 PM  

Mumbai Guy. I have to agree with is yes and no, but the bottom line is money makes a difference.It is very easy for the rich to say that money does not make a difference but try telling someone who is poor.They may be happy to be alive and have a family,something money cant buy, but when it comes to everyday living I cannot agree that the rich and poor have the same attitude and money makes no difference.

samuru999 2:59 PM  

starry nights,
I did not mean to leave the impression that money does not make a difference. To the poor that are suffering because they have no food for their family..
of-course their attitude would be
different to a very rich person.
All I meant was that the person of simpler means might have more peace within themselves. That poor
person might be able to actually
appreciate the importance of money
in their lives more than a very rich person could.

samuru999 3:07 PM  

There are many rich people have
supposedly have everything... but,in my eyes they are the ones
that have very little.
Money is all that matters to them.
They have no interest in helping
the poor. Look at our Government...
Who gets the most help... the rich
not the poor.

samuru999 3:17 PM  

I hope you understand what I have
tried to show here in my words.

Prash 3:54 PM  

Money cannot buy happiness.
But we all seek more money ? why ?
First, we need basic needs - food, shelter and clothes...and then we need this or that...and then, even if you possess millions of dollars, you want something else..It's all how we look at life. Many sitting in their big flats might tell that the poor are blessed because they don't have worry about the luxury taxes etc...but I wonder if they can go and sleep in the steets.

My second brother, when he left home to marry his lover (see the Family post in my blog)...he didn't have any money. All he said was, "I am happy because i am married to the girl i want to. She loves me and I love her. And I have good friends and a brother who supports us". He didn't even have a job. He was happy !!!

He is still happy with his wife and a daughter Niscetta. But, is he happy not seeing his mother since more than 4yrs ? is he happy living in a small flat and not enough bank balance ?

For my bro, money cannot bring happiness...he always quote my mom ' money comes today and go tomorrow and it will come day after tomorrow'.

But I think, Money can give certain good things too in life.

Mumbai Guy 4:01 PM  

Samuru, I disagree that poor people are more at peace. It is upto one's satisfaction to be at peace. When you are poor, you envy the rich for thier wealth and put all your peace dreaming of wealth. When you are rich, you think poor are more at peace because they have less to worry about. The grass is always green on other side.

That being said, It is upto oneselves to be happy and at peace. That is why I said YES and NO. Money atleast lets me only envy the poor instead of envy + suffering from the poor side.

For me, money really makes me happy, really makes me feel good.


Mumbai Guy 4:03 PM  

Prash, You have made a good point with perfect example.

samuru999 6:09 PM  

I have tried to explain how
I feel. I guess I have not used
the right words at times.
I will just now say that
being rich does not guarantee us
happiness. And, being poor does
not mean we have to be unhappy.

My happiness stems from always trying to do my best in life...
being kind to all I meet...and if
I am able to help someone less
fortunate than I am... I do so.
Those things make me happy.

geetha 6:51 PM  

Of course, money can't buy all the happiness. It's love that means more. Love between parents, siblings, spouse, children, friends, enemy, etc..

Money can only buy things.. which may give temporary hapiness and nother more.

Ask me to choose between enough money and enough love.. I would go for love, and love only! :)

Mumbai Guy 7:23 PM  

Now we are straying away from original question 'can money buy happiness'. No one would disagree what we want and how we define happiness.

Samuru, I do agree with you that the greatest happiness is the satisfaction of helping someone, making someone smile. And that is my point and experience. And how do I help someone? Most of the time with money. Everyone I have seen needing help was short of money. No one told me please help me with my food, homework or peotry.

Geetha, only if we are lucky enough to choose. We can choose only when we have something to choose. Without money, no one gets the privilege to choose.

Okay, enough rant for today. I feel old already even week before my birthday.

You all take care and have fun.

JamesBright 7:36 PM  

Unfortunately, money is judged as the basic parameter of everything in this world in the present times..!
So one needs money for everything.
But, as we all know, it is not everything..!
If you are feeling happy inside, then you are fine!
And if we have money and still we feel miserable, we surely lack something..!

Mindinside 7:44 PM  

I may buy things waiting in my shopping list and solve some of my problems but without doubt I can't buy the happiness with any money

southpaw 7:53 PM  

I agree with u lalitha, a lil bit of money is fine, it can make us live happily but running after it blindly all our lives is foolishness.
It doesn't buys anything instead we end up spending ourselves.

Yogi 8:53 PM  

money is definitely no ends to happiness!!i have constantly even debated the statement "money cant buy me love, but it sure has great bargaining power!"..I think the need for money arises from the constant need for material wealth, and i guess thats only a form of temporary satisfaction..since most material objects lose their fascination after a point of sure makes life a bit easier but happiness, nowhere close!

Srijith Unni 9:48 PM  

Wow! hot topic eh.?
but seriously crucial discussion indeed..!
Money is right when it is adequate and is enough to satisfy one`s basic needs. Neither should it be more, neither should it be less, because in both these extremes, we lose our peace of mind and fall prey to either desire, jealousy or greed.!
Money can buy food, not appetite.
It can buy a bed, not sleep.
Likewise, money can just sustain our life,it cannot deprecate it`s value or glorigy it!
The study is just work done by a group of scientists and could have been just a mechanical analysis, but I personally believe happiness and peace of mind cannot be measured accurately by science of today!.

With Best Regards,

starry nights 10:01 PM  

samuru999....I understand what u say but I still cand really get what the study came up with saying.""Having a lot of money or a big house has little to do with a person's daily mood," which ebbs and flows depending on the individual and the events of a given day." I think having money does have a lot to do with your daily mood.I am talking about daily living and not about love or inner peace which money cant buy.

starry nights 10:04 PM  

I think the rich and powerful person always got around the poor by telling them that rich are not happy. they are happy.each one have a different set of problems. maybe they are not content with what they have and are seeking more and thats why they are unhappy, on the other hand the poor is also unhappy because he does not have enough to be content with.

starry nights 10:06 PM are right I would also choose love over money.but I still think you cannot compare the attitude of the rich and poor and say that the rich man has more stress than the poor.

adi 10:10 PM  

gosh! such a serious question

all i can say is that i'm often troubled by this one, whether money is more imp or the ppl are?
and i know wat the answer is going to be. always.

but money is imp too.

so i devised a novel way of skirting my conscience. i said to myself, "i already've all the things that make a life meaningful, good parents, fabulous friends (like u), cool career- one of the fortunate ppl who love their jobs, and so many little joys in life except money;)

so the answer to the q from my point of view, the little things that matter most are 'life, love & faith with a sprinkle of money to buy u happiness (not possessions).

starry nights 10:11 PM  

Prash thank you for your comment, I understand what you are saying, happiness to each person is different.something like love that money could not buy.I am sure your brother is very happy with the girl he married and his daughter,its a differnt kind of happiness. on the other hand he is sad about not talking to your mother. I am still perplexed by the study. The people who did this study were all highly educated and I am sure know more than me, but in my mind I think having even a little money and not living on the street makes a big difference.

starry nights 10:14 PM  

Samuru999. you are right in saying that the rich are unhappy also, i am not saying that every poor person is unhappy. there are many poor people who are content with their lives and their circumstance in life and go on. but I am sure if they had some money they could be happy to provide for their families a better living.

starry nights 10:38 PM  

Adi..that was a nice safe comment, You are right we need a little of each to be happy.

rajeev 10:41 PM  

I agree with starry nights, that one needs an abundance of money as one of the steps to be in a good mood always. But the amount that defines 'abundance' is different for different ppl. Our maid, with 5 children , lost her husband in a road accident couple of years back, works full day to earn about 4k per month- but she is as happy as can be. Always cheerful and never a complaint with life. She finds the money sufficient to live happily, taking care of all her family.

Keshi 10:59 PM  

Money can 'buy' happiness...only the temporary kind.


Ganesh Ranganathan 11:16 PM  

Can money buy happiness?

Ask that to a person who has not eaten for a week..

Ask that to a person whose mother is suffering from a terminal illness and needs a lot of money for an operation.

Ask that to a topper whose parents can't afford to get him admitted to the school of his choice...

The truth is, most of us don't know the meaning of poverty at all. They don't know what it is like to go without food and thwe basic necessities in life. SO, its very easy to be politically correct and say money can't buy happiness. My opinion is...YES it can

Madhu 11:31 PM  

happiness is a very relative term. much depends on what the person wants and sees. For a kid it may be a toy that gives happiness, to a guy it may be a beautiful girl, to someone else, something else.

money can be one of the means to be happy. definitely not the only means.

I love Munich 1:18 AM  

No, I don't believe money can buy happiness ... but for example a calm night sleep if, like you mentioned, children are sick or bills nees (and can't) to be payed, things have to be bought ect.! I think once one does have enough - NOT MUCH but enough .. it chases a certain kind of fear away and makes more calm!

passerby55 2:24 AM  

Hi there

good money...
a very funny thing!

those who have it want more those who don;t have it dream of it!...

I agree to one line i heard
"mooma said there's only so uch money a man really needs...the rest is just for showing off"

more than earning/dreaming/having money what one and all need for happiness simply is :

To get up everyday and have a chance to do what U love to do everyday.


prithz 3:38 AM  

I dont really think money can buy happiness.. Money can only buy the materialistic pleasures that might give one happiness... but the real happiness that comes out of love nad care are too costly for money to lay its hands on....

Has to be me 3:40 AM  

True money cannot buy happiness. But then I wld need money for my (&my family's) basic comforts & lotsa love, joy n happiness. V all need money to an extent & lotsa happiness is what I feel! :)

christabelle 8:21 AM  

money can never buy happiness, I've seen a lot of very rich guys who r simply unhappy
but it can def give u the comforts of life bt I dnt agree that the stress that poor pple go thru is the same with the rich guys, no way, a poor man will think of where his next meal is coming from, a rich guy... u can guess.

starry nights 8:33 AM are right it all comes down to how much?

starry nights 8:35 AM  

Keshi yes it can buy only the temporary kind, but dont you think your mood for that day will be good just like the rich man.

starry nights 8:35 AM  

Ganesh..You are so right, ask the poor man and he will tell you what mood he is in everyday that he sees his children hungry and sick.

starry nights 8:37 AM  

Passerby..yes just enough to buy the bare necessities.

starry nights 8:38 AM  

I love Munich..thanks for ur comment, but I just feel the study that says the mood for the rich and poor on any given day is the same, I dont agree on.

starry nights 8:39 AM are right on the button.

starry nights 8:40 AM  

Has to be me..we need some money to be happy, even if it is not to buy things but just knowing you have for a rainy day will set you in a good mood.

Poetry by Kai 11:48 AM  

i got new poems on my blog!

starry nights 12:03 PM  

Christabelle..true money cant buy all happiness but it sure can buy some.

Mumbai Guy 6:07 PM  

Starry nights, looks like you agree with everyone. Stop agreeing with each of us.

Prash 6:31 PM  

@ starry nights,

I have met many idiots and morons who are highly educated in my life. Trust me! I can quote names...But I am not going to.

Highly educated doesn't mean that they are right.

@ mumbai guy,

Great people think alike and they also agree with each other...*smile*

Anand 7:23 PM  

Well Money cant buy happiness...but it defi takes away a lot of problems and pains!
So well in a way it makes life a lot easier and probably gives us some moments of joy!

Keshi 9:50 PM  

**but dont you think your mood for that day will be good just like the rich man.

yes...temp happiness is also happiness. And when we buy something nice for us, or eat at a good restaurant, we do feel great. It's temp but it's still happiness.


Dh@v@! 10:08 PM  

As far as question is “Does/could money buy happiness?”
My answer is “NO”. Money can buy whatever we want but not the happiness. But what I know is it’s tough to be happy without Money.

Being money minded is not bad but one should learn to control his/her greediness, cuz that is where the problem comes. Right?

I would like to quote a funny sher here

“Paisa khuda nahi hai…
Par khuda ki kasam
khuda se kam bhi nahi hai…”

Pritika Gupta 10:37 PM  

hmmm.. I dont say moeny buys happiness.. but it do help in keeping ur near one happy.. empty stomach.. sick body cant feel happy..

chitra 3:59 AM  

Happiness : is a state of mind at one particula time.

The basic comforts when met, would help us to relax, and would make us happy.

I still recall a scene , six years back in a red light , when I saw a beggar family sitting together and sharing a dinner , there was a genuine laughter in every one's face.

That day i realised, it depends on us whether we ant to be or not is certainly on us.

rajeev 5:12 AM  

I think the mood of someone who can afford to take a sick child to a specialist, would still be bad if his/her child falls sick. And such a person is likely to make much more fuss (and be unhappy) over small illnesses than someone who would rather look for a doc only in an emergency. In that sense having access to money is deterimental to happiness.
Now about emergencies, they don't occur too often in childhood, and if they do - it might not be too bad not to interfere with natural selection and ones Karma (oh oh - have i touched on another hot topic - hope not).

pophabhi 6:30 AM  

Dont think about happiness. You will be happy.

starry nights 7:39 AM  

mumbai guy...I dont agree with every one, somewhere ther the real issue is lost. to me being content is one way of being happy,bu I still think the poor and the rich man stress but about different things. the poor man may be content with his life does not mean he is happy. did i make sense?

starry nights 7:41 AM  

Anand, thats what I have been thinking all along, money can buy some happiness and its foolish to think it does not.

starry nights 7:43 AM  

Dh@v@ ...if its tough to be without money then does it not buy some happiness.?

starry nights 7:44 AM  

empty stomach.. sick body cant feel happy..
Pritika gupta...this is my gripe"

starry nights 7:48 AM  

Rajeev..not just talking about emergencies but even regular childhood illnesses, no money to buy even cough or cold medication, the mother has to watch her child suffer,and forget about that what about seeing your hungry child crying and its a mothers instinct to want to feed her child and she has no food.Those kinds of stresses the rich person does not have. he may be stressing that his child is sick and hungry but he is able to make the child comfortable.

starry nights 7:49 AM  

Chitra..Thanks for stopping by my blog and please do come again. I think what you saw in those beggers eyes was contentment , that does not mean that they are happy with their station in life.

starry nights 8:02 AM  

pophabhi...It is easier said than done.

Suji 8:35 AM  

Money can buy comforts but not happiness. Happiness is a state of mind. No amount of money will be able to get you happiness if you don't have peace of mind. What the study probably meant that was as long as ur basic needs are met, having more money does not guarantee more happiness.


Yes lik eother, I too hear tht money cant buy happiness but does lack of money buy hapiness and wht kind of hapiness. Is it day to day hapiness of hapiness that you managed to rescue someone out of an ailment, like you mentioned....

I would not want to discredit the rich by saying they r unhappy as hapiness is a state of mind and priority and being rich or poor, caste or creed shoul dnot be associated with it. It is is personal.

starry nights 12:19 PM  

Suji..I guess so, but I still dont get it.

starry nights 12:21 PM  

scribblez..thanks for your coment, i realize that money does not buy happiness, but according to the study the stressors of the rich and the poor in everyday living is the same, to that I dont agree.

Mumbai Guy 6:37 PM  

Prash, no one seem to agree with me. Now not even starry. How do I join your great group ?


rajeev 9:57 PM  

Hey, I was also talking about petty illnesses, like cough and cold- medicins don't help in these, and the ones who can't afford medicating for these, manage to live much more happily through these. there was a big construction site across my colony and I watched labourer's little children (2-5 yrs) taking bath below a tap in Delhi's cold december. They were enjoying it as much as the hot water bath that my son had just emerged from.
My take is that the human body and spirit has a lot of capacity to adjust to what we have. Its us who beleive the por must be unhappy- but isn't true always. I lived in a village in my early life - and can tell from experience that the poor farmer's children who made Rs 300 per year (talking about early 1980's) were as happy as me ( my father got about 5000 per month).
Also as Chitra pointed out, a meal however meagre can be the high point for a poor- as much as a five star night for some of us.
There are not many who go hungary on a daily basis - and even then you can see pictures of mal-nurished children enjoying a game of ball.
The things that stress poor and rich may be different, but the capacity to be happy inspite of everything doesn't vary too much.

Kuan Gung 11:05 PM  

As long as money stays poised at the top of our priorities, it remains as the cat chasing its buddhism so simply expresses, it is one of the primary blocks to the end of suffering...thank you...great, great post!

Anil The Great 10:26 PM  

starry nights : I guess we all knew this. Maybe we tend to forget this in our daily life, but at the back of everybody;s mind is this fact that Money cannot buy happiness, but I guess the reason why we see people eqauting money to happiness is all the gift of commericalisation which we have got. Everywhere , everything we see is highly commercialised and shown as an absolute necessity in life, in order to live a great life and all these things need money. So thats the reaosn why we equate money to happiness.

A very fine topic.


Sumitha 12:35 PM  

I believe whatever brings us happiness...there is money responsible for it somewhere behind eventhough its not directly visible to us always!

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