Can Money Buy Happiness?

Essay by erkhawkHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2004

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The idea of money buying happiness is interesting. Yes, most Americans feel like they do need more money than ever to be happy, but what is that "happiness" they are speaking of? If that idea means owning newer appliances than before, then money can buy you happiness. If that idea is going out to eat dinner more often, then money can buy you happiness. But, if happiness is truly living one's life to the fullest, then money cannot buy happiness. Americans know that this idea of happiness is materialistic and shallow, and they are quick to point it out in others, but cannot see it in themselves. Money cannot buy happiness, unless happiness is measured by possessions.

Happiness from money is very short lived. While the happiness of people who receive large sums of money might rise immediately after they receive that money, that happiness declines to only slightly above or equal to their level of happiness before the money came to them.

Today, with money, people have a greater purchasing power than ever before. A large expendable income leads to the purchasing of unnecessary, but by today's standards, important, goods. Although we are a richer nation, since 1957, the number of Americans who say they are "very happy" has declined from 35 to 32 percent, the divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide has tripled, the violent crime rate has quadrupled, and more people than ever are depressed (Myers).

Our society's perception of success also contributes to unhappiness amongst Americans. A new set of values has been adopted by many Americans putting a high salary job with lots of prestige above a successful marriage or close friends. It is this skew in values that has helped to make Americans unhappy. People need to put the things that matter most to...