5 Reasons Why Money Can’t Buy Happiness
We are all burdened with the responsibilities of life and know that in many cases, money can offer relief. After all, life seems easier knowing that money can take care of your daily necessities and much more. For this reason, money and happiness are often thought to go hand in hand.
However, you can easily fall into the belief that money can buy happiness when, in reality, the happiness it brings has a limit. Indeed, one study found that an income beyond $50,000-$75,000 doesn’t increase the quality of happiness in your life.1
In other words, even when you have more than enough income to support yourself, you can still live an unhappy life. A higher amount of income doesn’t cause you to have more happiness. To add, there are many accounts of well-off celebrities who display behaviors that show some form of unhappiness despite their financial success.
This is but one of the various examples demonstrating that money can’t buy happiness. Nonetheless, this isn’t suggesting that money is evil and being wealthy is bad, but only shows how relying on money to buy happiness will only lead to the contrary.
So why exactly does having more money not correlate with having more happiness? Below are 5 reasons followed by some solutions for finding true happiness in your life.
1. Can lead to ingratitude and entitlement
When relying on money for happiness, many of the actual sources of happiness are at risk. Gratitude is one source of leading a happy and healthy life.1 However, many wealthy individuals lose their sense of gratitude and appreciation, especially for the small and simple things of life.
The things that a wealthy person normally would be grateful for are often overlooked, which cultivates ingratitude. As a result, ingratitude leads you down a path of only focusing on the negative rather than the positive outcomes of daily experiences.
Even worse, ingratitude can correlate with entitlement, where one assumes that they should receive special treatment. In this case, you would expect to receive special treatment due to your financial status. This mentality can often lead to serious negative attitudes and thoughts, which oftentimes results in depression and bitterness towards yourself and others.
2. Can promote a self-centered mentality
Another source of happiness lies in the spirit of giving. Whether it’s donating money or opening a door for someone, those who serve others tend to lead a more fulfilling life and are more likely to feel a sense of purpose.2
In contrast, centering your ambitions and lifestyle around money often leads you to develop something called egocentrism. For someone who is egocentric, nothing is more important than their perspective of themselves and the world around them.
Having a self-centered mentality can reduce the desire to understand others’ perspectives. In addition, self-centered tendencies often decrease feelings of empathy towards others and the desire to serve them.3 To illustrate, one study found that upper-class citizens are more likely to cut off other drivers in traffic and less likely to stop for pedestrians.4 This demonstrates the type of outcome when focusing too much on your needs rather than the needs of others.
Ultimately, disregarding others’ needs and lacking the desire to help them fosters emptiness in your life.
3. Can endanger healthy relationships
Studies have shown repeatedly that happier people are found to have healthy relationships.5 On the other hand, focusing your time and commitment to work in order to acquire higher income rather than time and commitment to family and friends can cause rifts in important relationships.
Another factor of money’s negative affect on relationships is due to the autonomous lifestyle a wealthy person leads. Because of the wealth obtained, you get accustomed to taking care of yourself rather than relying on others.3 For this reason, being too self-reliant due to wealth often deteriorates already established relationships with family and friends, even preventing new relationships from forming. As a consequence, you can develop a sense of loneliness and disconnection.
4. Can encourage immoral and addictive behavior
When you have financial success, money isn’t seen as an obstacle in obtaining what you want, and you may feel free to do whatever you like. Perhaps you can finally go on your dream vacation or get VIP seating at the game.
As nice as this seems, money can’t buy long-lasting happiness. Over time, you could find yourself spiraling into boredom and begin seeking more ways to feel satisfied in life and to obtain more money.
To this end, money can act as a gateway to immoral and addictive behavior. One study found a correlation between students’ attitudes towards money and cheating. The results showed that the more desire for money a person has, the more likely they cheat when given the opportunity.6
Also, research has revealed that wealth can lead to addictive behaviors such as reckless spending, drug and alcohol use, petty crimes, and other compulsive behaviors.7 In addition, money itself can even be addicting, making the individual more likely to display immoral or reckless behavior in order to obtain it. The outcomes of such behavior will only lead to a harmful lifestyle for yourself and others.
5. Can lead to an unhealthy relationship with money and oneself
Many fall victim to the idea that you are what you own and determine their happiness by their financial success. For instance, you might have thoughts of being happy or good enough only when you’ve reached a certain income level or have purchased certain things. These ideas contribute to an unhealthy perspective that your self-worth is founded upon money and things. As a result, an unhealthy relationship with money is formed along with low self-worth and levels of happiness.
For someone who lets materialism determine their happiness and worth, momentary happiness is possible; however, deep down inside they’re left unsatisfied. In addition, people who rely on money prioritize obtaining and spending it. This can interfere with their overall well-being and chance at having a healthy self-image and abundant life.
In the end, letting your financial success determine your worth will only create more unhappiness in your life.
How can you obtain true happiness?
Lasting happiness and health are possible regardless of your financial status. Rather than focusing on money, focus on applying the following practices to obtain true wealth in your life:
- Healthy relationships
- Emotional processing
- Frequent exercise
These practices also assist in reducing stress and lead to a positive outlook of life.
In addition to these practices, modern technology offers ways to assist you in creating a healthier relationship with not only money, but with yourself and others. In particular, ZYTO perception reframing technology can assist with money issues and any other issues that are causing mental and physical roadblocks in your life.
While having a lot of money certainly isn’t a bad thing and something to aspire to, it’s important that we keep it in perspective and not look to money as the source of happiness in our lives. Looking at money as only a piece of the happiness puzzle allows us to have more balance in our lives so we can pursue what makes us truly wealthy.
1. Gregoire, Carolyn. “How Money Changes the Way You Think and Feel.” The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Greatergood.berkeley.edu.
2. “Helping people, changing lives: The 6 health benefits of volunteering.” Mayo Clinic Health System. Mayoclinichealthsystem.org.
3. Caruso, E.M., N.L. McGill, K.D. Vohs. “There’S No “You” in Money: Thinking of Money Increases Egocentrism.” NA-Advances in Consumer Research 36 (2009): 206-209.
4. Piff, P.K., D.M. Stancato, S. Côté, et al. “Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior.” PNAS 109, no. 11 (2017): 4086-4091.
5. Barker, C., & B. Martin. “Participation: the happiness connection.” Journal of Public Deliberation 7 (2011): 1-16.
6. Chen, J., T.L. Tang, & N. Tang. “Temptation, Monetary Intelligence (Love of Money), and Environmental Context on Unethical Intentions and Cheating.” Journal of Business Ethics 123 (2014): 197-219.
7. Curtis, Jacqueline. “How Money Can Change People and Affect Their Behavior.” Money Crashers, LLC. Moneycrashers.com