To what extent is it true that money gives us happiness? Can it produce the reverse effect?
All the things we think make us happy, money has always played an important role in our life in society. And to understand why we must start from the basis that we currently live in the so-called “welfare state.” This has to do with the economic development of countries, but … is it really true that money brings happiness?
The relationship between money and happiness
A system born from social, economic and political struggles that provides all people with the services they need (or not) to live with an acceptable degree of well-being, that is, that they are basically well.
The state educates us, takes care of basic care, facilitates transportation, gives us housing, but … What drives this complex capitalist system? First, the expectation that everyone will give something back through work, and second, obviously, money.
The welfare state provides us with what to live with, but it does not tell us how to do it, and that traps us in an involuntary contract that we have not asked for. It is for this same reason that many people do things for money and do not even know why; we live in a successful society, in which you must “be someone” or “do things” to correspond to that utility expected by the welfare state.
The nature of success
Is there only one type of success in this life? There are those who believe or feel that happiness is related only to money and material goods. And it is logical to think about it, money is the necessary means for the satisfaction of human material needs such as eating, sleeping under a roof or having access to health. The problem is that the welfare society has made everything depend on the economy, even the happiness of its citizens, without realizing that true success is being happy and that our bargaining chip is a smile.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights shows that we all have the right to an adequate standard of living for our health and well-being. But as we see in the world, we are still far from this being the case.
Can you imagine not having the necessary resources for your happiness? Poverty cannot be reduced to a simple economic question but must be considered as a structural, dynamic and multifactorial phenomenon that also includes factors such as education, health, or housing.
For this reason, poverty causes a decline in cognition, and if it is maintained it can permanently damage the brain in the long term. And it is that, who has not ever felt anxious in reference to money? When there is not enough in the wallet, all the alarms in our body go off to face imminent management of resources. In the words of Martin Seligman in the Networks program, “below the necessary minimums, wealth is very important; that is, poverty negatively affects the level of happiness ”.
The other side of the coin is the “perfect” citizen who contributes something to the state through work . But that, as is now evident, also “takes its toll”: in Japan it is considered normal to stay more hours at work and, even if it is taking a “nap” on the subway back home, that has led this society to lead much of the technology industry at the cost of an unsustainable pace of life.
Work and psychological well-being
Have you heard of the Karoshi (過 労 死)? It is a Japanese word that means “death due to overwork”, and is used to describe a social phenomenon in the work environment that has existed for several decades in the Japanese country, which consists of an increase in the mortality rate due to complications due to to excess hours of work, especially to strokes and heart attacks.
Working too much, then, leads to a decline in mental health, and the main reason is that it leaves us less time to take care of ourselves. The Easterlin paradox has already challenged the belief that having more money equals more happiness. But it is in the most recent studies where you can see the reality of the matter: the more money, the more memory of happiness, but from approximately $ 75,000 -annual- instant happiness would no longer increase.
To continue earning more money, life becomes complicated, since one must do and think so many things at the same time that it generates unhappiness. So yes, you have more material wealth, but the possibilities of happiness diminish, “we have more things but every time we have less time for what really makes us happy: friends, family, recreation.”
What we get clear from all this is that you cannot be (so) happy if your basic needs are not satisfied, and although happiness increases equally with money, there is a maximum point in which, no matter how much money you have, happiness will no longer increase.
Ultimately, money is an important element in our society, which can cause happiness and misery simultaneously. When you ask people “Does money make you happy?” There is a fairly clear perception on this issue: the answer that is repeated the most is “no, but it helps”.
Money gives happiness if we use it for what it is, a tool, but it takes it away from us if it is the goal. However, I want to make one thing clear: money is not eaten, it does not put a band-aid on us, nor does it protect us from the rain. The important thing is to have food, that someone cares for us, and have a roof to live under.
The welfare society, and with it money, gives us everything to be well, but does not provide us with happiness. Our happiness depends more on what we do with the money we have than on how much we have.