What can money buy, happiness or satisfaction?

money-graphic1by Lauren Kim & Katrina Lin

Graphic by Emily Duong

In today’s culture, people are predisposed to believe that material wealth leads to happiness; however, what is perceived as happiness is actually just satisfaction.

Creating a happy life is a top priority for most people. Some students work hard in school in order get into college, increasing their opportunities of  acquiring a high job. Having  more money alleviates the stress of financial situations, allowing people to focus on other aspects of their lives. So, it only seems natural that this feeling of bliss would originate from having an abundant amount of money, because money can bring pleasure and a sense of achievement.

With extra cash, people are able to indulge in luxury purchases. However, acquiring material goods, such as shoes and laptops, only has a temporary effect on contentment.  New belonging can provide instant gratification, but over time, the initial satisfaction often fades. According to lifehack.org, author Daniel Wallen stated that when people buy items of want rather than need, the tangible items often do not seem like it is enough to fill in an emotional void. Therefore, the endless pursuit of material goods can ultimately result in diminished happiness.

People do not really care about the level of income they receive,  as long as they are earning more than those around them. According to spring.org.uk, it is comparing oneself to others that raises or lowers one’s happiness quotient, or the happiness a person earns from his work, apart from the money offered by the job. People assume money makes them happier because seeking it leads to conventional achievements, such as being able to afford mansions in wealthier neighborhoods or luxurious sports cars. It is the competition for status that drives people to make more money while chasing satisfaction.

Although money cannot literally buy gratification, it can influence the perceptions of contentment. People live through an illusion as they convince themselves that satisfaction equates with joy, yet they mean different things. Merriam Webster defines satisfaction as fulfillment of a need or want. Happiness, on the other hand, is defined as both the state of mind and emotion, which is not the same as being “good enough.”

Therefore, the correlation between income and happiness is exaggerated as money does not make one happy on a day-to-day basis and people are left with temporary joy.

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