Money and Happiness

Does money can buy happiness? That is the common question sometimes emerges inside somebody’s mind. Some people say money can buy happiness, “Could you find unhappy people riding jet sky on Maldives? Could you find unhappy people wandering over Europe to visit some fascinating and iconic places?  Those things can only achieved by spending big bucks. So I can say that money can buy happiness”. Other people say, “I have huge house, sport car in the garage, fancy fashion and generate tremendous income every month but there is some part of me feeling unhappy. I think I much happier back then when I was in College even though I was living in small condo, having money that only can affords tuition fee, dormitory rental, foods and other modest excitement with friends around. Despite I’m having bank saving 100 times of the amount when I was in college, my happiness level hasn’t increased along with that”. Some people say money can buy happiness, other can’t. Does really money can buy happiness? cool it off bro, This article is not based on scientific observation or profound research. It just come from my random thought bursting out in my mind (compiled after read some articles). I just want to share my point of view, and I’m pleased if you have other view and want to discuss about it 🙂

1. Basic Human Needs & Tertiary Needs

What are they? They are shelter, foods, clothes and of course safety. You can’t feel exciting while your life is being threatened. It is very difficult to be happy whenever everyday you’re always starving, looking for foods. I’m just saying that you must fulfill your basic needs to surpass a border between happiness and misery. I mean neither that poor people are always more miserable than the richer one nor the richer is happier. It seems like very hard to them to be happy since their basic needs are unfulfilled. It’s like a reason why some people choose to rob other’s possession (from every aspect crime is can’t be tolerated).

There is like a border above that money doesn’t affect happiness. The border lies at particular amount of money. There is like a stage above basic human needs, I call it ‘tertiary needs’. Travelling with your mates, painting, playing piano and do whatever your hobbies are would boost your happiness. I define Tertiary needs is a stage when your happiness level keep pace with the increment of your money that have been spent. Spending your money to pursuit your dream is categorized in fulfilling tertiary needs.

And I believe there is a point where above that no matter how much money you have doesn’t affect your happiness, significantly. For example : having a Million USD Ferrari and 3 Millions USD Car won’t affect your happiness after several period of time. I define the stage when your wealth increment doesn’t simultaneously increase your happiness level is called ‘saturation stage’.


2. Endless Self Comparing

A tendency to compare our current circumstance with others is like our basic instinct. People tend to feel glad whenever they know they are better than others.  You feel contented if your house is bigger than your neighbor’s or you have better job.  There is no like absolute position. What I’m saying is even a brainy student with IQ 140 will feel miserable if he is put in a class with student’s average IQ 160. But he will feel glad and superior in class with average IQ 110. A man with income 10,000 USD/month will always feel inadequate if he compare himself with they surrounded friends with income 25,000 USD/month. Most of people looking for a place that they’re become the best and have a meaning. They don’t want to be a mediocre. Every person wants to be visible and gets recognition from society. Perhaps this is a thing that motivates some people to brag/show off in the social media. They always post whenever buy fancy bag, expensive jewelry, high resolution camera, house, have an overseas trip so as they seems look better than moderate society. Will you buy fancy and expensive goods in term no people would be allowed to see your valuable?

It is like never ending desire to get more and more and compare yourself with the higher material sense level. Unfortunately your happiness level won’t increase along with the material possession. I’m gamer. Back to 15 years ago when I was in elementary school I had my first console, Nintendo. It was like greatest feeling ever since I didn’t need to borrow it from my friend again. Later when Playstation was booming, I felt bored with my Nintendo. The joy of playing Nintendo had tarnished and fade away. I wanted to have Playstation so bad since it offered much better graphic. And then finally my father bought me one. I was playing it almost every day. Later, I was bored again. At that moment I thought the cheerfulness of having Playstation wasn’t as great as I had expected. And I was thinking, ”Hmm.. having Playstation 2 or Playstation 3 would be so great!”. And now I’m having Notebook to play PS3/PS4 games (in PC version) but still the greatest feeling I have ever had when I was playing Final Fantasy IX (PS1), Contra (Nintendo). Material sense isn’t everything. Happiness is a state of mind.

Some people call it ‘hedonic treadmill’. It is like a parable that how much effort you make it will be wasted, you’re still on the same place. As if you go further but in the reality you’re still on the same level, happiness level.

Luckily we’re free to determine the reference for comparison. Less is more. Lower the expectation means more happiness shall come. That’s why people who always be grateful (compare themselves with the condition that they had nothing when they were born) are much happier than people who always stare above.

3. Seizing the Moment against Material Sense

People often make a rational calculation: I have a limited amount of money, and I can either go there, or I can have this, If I go there, it’ll be great, but it’ll be done in no time. If I buy this thing, at least I’ll always have it. That is factually true, but not psychologically true. We adapt to our material goods.” Cornell University psychology professor, Thomas Gilovich

 “People think that experiences are only going to provide temporary happiness, but they actually provide both more happiness and more lasting value.” Professor Ryan Howell, associate professor of psychology at San Francisco State University.

It is interesting trail the contention between material sense against seizing the moment. It is fascinating that getting new experience such as travelling, hiking, adventuring etc with your friends would give you (perhaps) longer lasting happiness rather than owning a luxurious car.

Presentation34. Giving and Sharing

Spending your money to the other people who are trying to fulfill their basic needs would boost your happiness. I believe there is more happiness in giving rather than receiving. Regarding on the book titled “The Paradox of Generosity” written by sociologist Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson found that people who give more will be happier. Research has been established for 5 years involving 2,000 persons. They had tracked the spending pattern of 40 families from different economical classes. The result is the Americans who donate more than 10% of their income shall be resisted for depression (41% rarely or never depressed).

And I’m sure all of you have personal experience about sharing sometimes to someone else and how your feeling about it.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi

5. Avoid Debt and Saving for the Future

Debt tends to make people vulnerable to be stressed. An article from stated that Debts reach further than just stress, include heart disease, stroke and mental illness. Those with higher debt were found to have a 1.3 percent higher diastolic blood pressure reading. A rise of just two percent in diastolic blood pressure is associated with a 15 percent heightened stroke risk, with hypertension risk rising by 17 percent. Moreover, people living with debt are three times more likely than others to suffer from mental illnesses, with depression symptoms worsening 14 percent for every 10 percent increase in personal debt. (Source: Sweet, E., Nandi, A., Adam, E.K., et al, The high price of debt: household financial debt and its impact on mental and physical health. Social Science & Medicine. 2013)

Do not content your cupidity by taking loan for unnecessary goods. The key to sustain your balance is by good management in expenditure and income. Remember you don’t live for the present only.


So here we are now in the conclusion section. Can Money buy happiness? Of course yes. Money can bring the happiness by these following notes in spending :

  1. To fulfill your basic and tertiary needs
  2. To gain more personal experiences rather than buy lavish things
  3. Be grateful, always look down but still dream high
  4. To give more some money for other people to fulfill their basic needs
  5. To spend your money wisely (avoid debt) and saving for the future needs

Let’s create a balance for the rules above to gain your maximum level of happiness



4 thoughts on “Money and Happiness

  1. Wow!! mantap pam tulisannya..

    It’s like Maslow hierarchy of needs, your point no.1 similiar to the bottom level of maslow hierarchy, Physiology and safety needs. And your point no.2 similiar to Lovely/belonging and esteem needs.
    money can ‘buy’ our needs and if the fullfillment of our needs can make us happy, yes, that’s means money can ‘buy’ happiness.
    but every person have different state of this fullfillment of needs. Let’s take example about food. For some rich people maybe they are not satisfied just eat food, they want delicious food or a good place to eat to make them satisfied, but for some poor people as long as they can eat, their needs of foods have been fulfilled. So some rich people needs more money to buy the happines of eating. But it’s not always like that, I think if we can be grateful we didn’t need much money to buy happines. And to be a grateful person is a very difficult things.

  2. Thanks for view hehe., I couldn’t agree more that Everyone has their own respective fulfillment and different state so as I only describe the big concept not the limit.

    For the case a millionaire who loves to eat an expensive and delicious foods, I categorize it not as basic human needs. It is like a hobby in culinary (tertiary needs). What I mean “foods” as basic human needs is literally for our basic needs level. Yup broo the cheapest way to be happy is by focusing on what you’re having not what you’re missing., Thanks for the info about maslow hierarchy hehe
    (pesan sponsor : skalian belajar bahasa inggris ini wkwk)

  3. mantep euy!! nice post

    faktanya tapi hidup happy normal banyak waktu sama keluarga terus engga terlalu mikir lifestyle juga harus penuh perjuangan.
    orang mau beli rumah? ya harus nyicil kalo pegawai ya, waktu dia juga malah ke beli sama perusahaannya, 8-17 per day,
    dari sana mulai keliatan, debt problem then life is not balance with work.,
    travel? Nyari cuti paling haha.

    kata urang sih, treasure aja setiap waktu yang kita punya, dan niatkan ibadah. kalo kita ngerasa down, inget aja bahwa suatu saat amalan baik kita bakal dibalas di akhirat walaupun di dunia kita gak ngerasa terlalu bahagia..

  4. Mantabs doni sang suami muda,,. Iye dons sadar ga sadar kita ngorbanin byk banget hal demi uang (bagi yg kerjanya demi duit semata) euy., mari kita berbahagia dons even masih nyicil rumah d kemudian hari

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