Why money can actually buy you happiness

The saying, “money can’t buy you happiness” is so common that most people have heard it (or at least are familiar with it) and know what it means.

It’s a well-meaning phrase that folks like to share with the world, pointing to billionaires and rich people who aren’t necessarily happy just because they have plenty of money.

People will point out that buying a new car won’t make you happy, having expensive clothes won’t make you happy, or that consumerism doesn’t equate to happiness.

It’s said that happiness comes from within and not from external sources around you.

I suppose this saying is true to an extent. Having money doesn’t automatically make you happy.

Man giving lady money
Why money can actually buy you happiness

However, the things you can buy with money can lead to happiness, and that’s why I take issue with this saying.

The phrase “money can’t buy you happiness” seems to imply that no matter how much money you have, it will not make you happy or help you feel happy.

But is that the absolute truth?

I think it’s safe to say that it’s hard to feel happy when you don’t have the basic life necessities. Food, clothes, housing, and healthcare — things you need to survive in life before you can even consider your happiness.

How can you feel joy when you don’t know where your next meal will come from?

How can you feel happy when you can’t pay your bills? When you are homeless or living in a shelter because you don’t have money for a house?

How can you feel happy if you can’t afford clothes to keep you warm and comfortable?

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How can you feel happy when you’re sick but can’t afford to go to a doctor’s appointment or a hospital?

Even hobbies that make you happy require some sort of monetary means one way or another.

For example, you need a laptop or pen and paper if you want to write. If you want to be social with your friends, you need money to hang out at a restaurant, go shopping, or do something else. You might need a car to get there too, or to pay for a bus. How can you have video or phone calls with loved ones without at least paying for a phone and service?

And what if you have an expensive hobby? What if you wanted to take dance classes, learn photography, do graphic design, travel, or something else?

How can you do any of those things without money?

What if you take it a step further and want to find a way to be happy?

Self-help books cost money. So does therapy, hiring a life coach, and taking a yoga class.

Overall, it’s nearly impossible to find happiness for free because almost nothing in life is free.

I’m sure the phrase money can’t buy you happiness came from good intentions or is at least used in a way that means no ill will toward anyone. It’s true that having money in itself won’t necessarily make you happy, and even buying things you like may not make you feel truly happy in life.

But those things contribute to happiness. And it still stands that food, clothing, housing, and healthcare are all basic human needs that must be met for you to function and reach your fullest potential.

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When you don’t have to worry about meeting your basic needs, focusing on your happiness is much easier. That’s not greed, selfishness, or attachment to outward forces; it’s basic logic.

If you want to live, you need certain things to survive. And to have those things, you need money one way or another.

So no, money doesn’t always buy you happiness, but it sure helps you find it.

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