How Money Can Buy Happiness And How It Can Ruin Your Life

Are people who make more money happier? What about those who make less? How does our spending habits impact our satisfaction?

In this article, I examine how money relates to happiness. Whereas the relationship between money and happiness isn't necessarily comfortable, this article breaks down and elaborates how money can make us happy and how it can also be the source of our unhappiness.

Today, money is arguably the most sought thing humans desire. And due to the inevitable difficulties in life and the uncertain circumstances we all face midpoint in our lives, we are all devoted to wanting money.

Money gives us power, it catapults our status to the top, it grows an unprecedented level of pride in us, and it gives us access to pretty much anything, which is why people seek it. Sometimes by whatever means possible.

Can money buy happiness? 

YES, IT CAN. Studies show that an increase in one's income has a more significant impact on happiness below a certain level. Money matters more if you possess very little or none of it, and it matters less when you own more of it. Let's break It down, shall we?

So how does money buys happiness?

1- Purchase more experience, less materialistic stuff.

Dr Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University wrote that people who spend a lot tend to experience more long-term happiness and fulfilment when they buy specific experiences instead of possessions.

Getting a new watch, iPhone, or TV set, increases happiness for a short time. And might likely soon become the cause of your unhappiness by inducing buyer's remorse.

Experiences, on the other hand, like going on a picnic, seeing a movie, and going on that long-awaited vacation creates more long term happiness with valuable memories shared with others.

Ever wanted to visit Paris or gaze upon the pyramids of Egypt? With the money you can. You can even go hiking on Mount Everest or even sky diving. These are experiences that bring happiness.

But You need money to achieve them. And you're likely to bond with someone who also went for a tour in Egypt or went sky diving than with someone who bought a new TV set.

2- Spend on others.

As humans, we're designed in such a way that we get our greatest joy in life when we know we're helping to improve the lives of other people; when we're making a difference in the lives of other people. 

And although you can get lots and lots of praises from helping others, it's not the praises that you receive; it's the joy and satisfaction that you experience in your own life knowing that other people have benefited from what you've provided for them. 

Studies by the University of British Columbia also found that people experience more happiness when they spend on others. 

Whether donating money for charity, treating someone else to a particular experience or helping out. It appears that money is best shared.

"So Isa, with all this being said, how can money possibly ruin my life?"

I'm glad you asked.

Here's how money can ruin your life.
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish American industrialist, philanthropist and arguably the most successful and most prosperous entrepreneur of all time, with an estimated net worth of over $300 Billion. In his own words, "The greatest gift you can have for a child is him to be born into poverty." 

Dan Pena, an American businessman, also known as the $50 Billion man. Dan came from a lower-middle-class family, went to a mediocre university which he flunked out of twice, before finally graduating with honours.

He said in an interview, "My kids aren't getting any of my money when I die, not a cent. Two of my kids are cool with it; one of them is not so cool with it. Dan quoted Carnegie and said the same thing, that the best thing for a child is to be born into poverty.

Now don't misunderstand, these men weren't saying that money is bad or we all deserve to grow up in some shithole neighbourhood and struggle our way to become rich. No. The point is, money can be poisonous. 

Some people grow up in well organized and wealthy homes with everything handed to them, and they end up being miserable, disrespectful, unhappy and alone for most of their lives. 

Other people grow up in the ghetto, on the streets, barely unable to eat, and they become some of the kindest, happiest and most successful people on the planet.

As Ella Wheeler once puts it, "Pauperism is an evil which tends to be abolished. But close to that evil, I believe the worst thing possible for a human soul is to be born into wealth. It is a grave obstacle to greatness which few are strong enough to surmount, and it rarely results in happiness to the recipient."

"Alright Isa, I've heard enough. Name one person that money ruined their life."

No problem, here's two.

1- Billie Harrell

Billie Harrell was a shelf stocker at a home Depot outside of Houston, Texas. He won a lottery in June of 1997. The price was $31 million. 

Harrell was profoundly religious and had struggled his entire life to provide for his wife and three kids. The lottery appeared to be the pay of his family had long deserved after a life of faith and hard work. 

In July, Billie was in Austin to pick up a check for $1.24 million, the first of 25 checks he was owed and would be paid over the next 25 years. $1.24 million equals N448 million in naira. Imagine receiving such every year for 25 years... Now stop getting carried away and read on.

Billie became rich. He got himself a lovely ranch and some horses. He even put money away to send his kids to good colleges. He bought homes for members of the family. He donated money to his church. He did a lot of good things for himself and others. Then two years later, in May of 1999, Billie locked himself in his bedroom, pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at his chest, and he pulled the trigger.

A confidant said Harrell claimed, "Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me."

2-Christopher Reeves

Christopher Reeves was born in 1952 to a wealthy family in New York. Chisel jawed and good looking. In 1978, Reeve hit his big break from playing the role of Superman. The movie became a hit. He made millions of dollars and became one of the most recognizable celebrities on earth.

He made a fortune. The whole world loved this guy, became the kids favourite superhero. In the movie, this guy went up to space, flew around the earth, went back in time to save his girlfriend. He rolled the earth like a dice. Thank God for 21st century CGI. Phew.

He spent that fortune on beautiful houses, nice cars, luxurious parties and bought horses to satisfy his lust for horse rides. Unfortunately in 1995, Reeve had an accident. Fell off one of his horses, doctors said he cracked two vertebrae in his spine. He would never breathe or walk on his own again.

That's Two! And there's a whole other bunch of people, but I'm going to let you ponder on these two for now.

Although, Reeves condition was both a blessing and a curse. His curse was that due to his terrible accident and even with all of his money, he could never walk or breath on his own again. 

On the other hand, after the accident, Reeve became an advocate and a role model for the disabled. He spent his remaining days fundraising for spinal cord research before passing on on October 10 2004.

Reeve later claimed that the accident helped him appreciate life more. It wasn't a joke. He noted that "there were non-disabled people more paralyzed than I am. I can laugh, I can love. I am a very lucky guy. His condition afterwards made him see life on a whole new perspective. That was his blessing. 

Money problems can take the luster out of life. I'm not saying money is everything. But when you don't have any, it seems to be everything. 

Some of us go as far as buying things we don't need, to impress others and to look excellent or classy, because we are capable. But simply because something can be improved in your life, does not mean it should be improved in your life.

Happiness research shows that we're all pretty much mildly dissatisfied all the time, regardless of income, job status, gender, marital status or what stupid car you drive. 

Nobody is happy all the time. Conversely, nobody is unhappy all the time either. People can be annoying, and life is exceedingly difficult and unpredictable.

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