Does money buy you happiness?
No. But money is not irrelevant.
Money buys you choices. People are happier when they have more choices. It’s not money itself that makes someone happy; it’s the ability to spend it that liberates one to feel safe, content or joyful.
Honestly earned money is the reward for prolonged, rational efforts over time. The sense of accomplishment involved in making money fosters self-esteem, self-respect, and control over one’s destiny. These things are all part of happiness. Money might not literally buy happiness, but it creates — and is reflective of — the conditions that make happiness possible.
You can say, “I don’t care about money.” But in order to prove you really mean this, you’ll have to give up all the basic necessities as well as personal pleasures of life. To renounce (or denounce) money is, in effect, like renouncing (or denouncing) the act of valuing. You might as well commit suicide — and psychologically speaking, if you ignore the relevance of money (and therefore valuing), you already have.
Control freaks and other irrational people give the pursuit of money a bad name. But don’t blame this on money (or valuing); blame it on the choices and mentality of control freaks.
In families or relationships, you’ll find people who use money as a tool of control. In our government, you find control over the financial system itself (by politicians and other control freaks) everywhere you look. While such actions are not laudable, they prove just how important money is, including to those who denounce it the most.
Money arises, ultimately, from trade. Whether it’s the simple trade between a farmer and someone buying a farmer’s product, or the sophisticated high finance of an advanced civilization, the principle is the same: trading value for value. Money provides a convenient and crucial means of systematizing, and making more efficient, the exchange of values, i.e. goods and services required for survival and happiness.
Money is material, and usually involves the exchange of material goods or services; but the trader principle upon which money is based is the most spiritual (rationally defined) of activities human beings will ever undertake.
Human beings need to actualize and manifest their pursuits in concrete forms. “Things and stuff” give form to our most cherished beliefs, drives, desires and ambitions. There’s nothing wrong with this. Money, by fostering trade and measuring accomplishment, helps people see, smell, taste, hear and feel the products of their own efforts, as well as the efforts of others.
Some fools claim that a society without money would be the ideal one. Picture a society without money, and you’ll see a society without much of anything except stagnation, poverty and despair.
Others claim that charity is more important than money. They’d rather give than produce a profit. This is certainly their prerogative; but what is there to give, without value and exchange creating the means of giving in the first place? How do you donate with an empty bank account?
Does money buy you happiness? Not strictly speaking. But the pursuit of money, and all that it implies, is the definition of happiness itself. When you’re making money, you’re pursuing values — survival, achievement, pleasure, fulfillment. These values are the entire purpose of life.
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