Money can’t buy happiness

According to Morton, although U.S. citizens may have more material wealth, people in less fortunate countries tend to be happier.


According to Morton, although U.S. citizens may have more material wealth, people in less fortunate countries tend to be happier.

Jill Morton, Staff Writer

I think there’s a huge difference between fleeting happiness and true underlying joy. Some people group these together as the same thing, but that’s not quite right. Happiness can come and go willy nilly, but the underlying joy of a person is more constant.

To explain my point, I will use some personal experiences when I have witnessed first-hand how money can’t buy happiness.

For example, I have been on a couple of mission trips to third world countries. These countries don’t have nearly the amount of stuff that we do here. In Haiti, after that insane earthquake in 2010, the country was completely destroyed. Many of the buildings were in ruin, the streets were dirty and smelly from a lack of an adequate sewage system, the infrastructure was wrecked and many homes and lives were destroyed. No one had a lot of money to begin with, let alone food and clothing.

People went without every day, but they still seemed to be so happy. For the week I was there, I noticed there was joy among everyone I would meet. These people who seemingly had nothing still knew how to make the most of what they did have. They were always smiling and singing, the kind of things you don’t always see here necessarily. For me, this was a very impactful experience and it changed the way I understood happiness and joy.

In the United States, we have an endless supply of stuff, a lot of which is junk in my opinion; extra stuff that we don’t need. We never go without. There’s plenty of food, clothes and everything else we could want. I’m not saying everyone here is a millionaire. But we’re extremely fortunate compared to most of the world. And yet, as a whole, we are quite unhappy. How is it that we have so much yet people are so discontent?

People seem to be constantly wanting more than what they have. According to the Wall Street Journal, one reason for this is people adapt to change very fast. Therefore, when we buy something new, we get used to it fairly soon and then want the next best thing, quickly bore with that new toy. It’s an endless cycle of wanting and buying more. This is not an issue for people who can’t always buy the new best thing. That is one reason I believe that money can’t buy happiness.

The other main reason is that people are too busy. According to ABC News, Americans work a lot more than people in most other industrialized countries. Now obviously, you need to work pretty hard to get money, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who won the lottery or something. I’m not saying that working hard is bad, or that occasional long hours on the job is horrible, but there should be some kind of healthy balance. While you spend all this time working, you’re not spending that time doing enjoyable things like traveling the world and hanging out with your family. Extra hours at work can cost you precious time with the people you love and care about. I know doing fun activities costs money, but there needs to be a happy medium between work and the rest of life. If you work yourself to death and have tons of money, you still won’t be happy. But if you work a good amount and then use the money that you made to go to Disney World for example, you’ll be a lot happier.

Jill Morton is a staff writer for the Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]