My two cents on money
Exploring the relationship between money and happiness
Money is a concept that we all experience in different ways throughout our lives. Whether it’s virtual currency in a game, an allowance from our parents or earned points that we can expend in a class, currency is everywhere.
Money, to an extent, does lead to happiness because of all the opportunities and experiences it allows you to have, but people often exaggerate the extent to which it can do so, with minimalists denying any link between the two and materialists over-emphasizing it. The extremes of both minimalism and materialism take away from money’s benefits.
Money is a hyperreality that humans have created. It has been the foundation of human society for centuries. But it’s important to note that money wasn’t made to make people happy or sad, but as a way to establish order in a developing society. In fact, no matter what form it appears in, money has led to the progress of humanity, but also hinders us from moving forward when used incorrectly.
Often, getting happiness from money is conflated with materialism, but I think there’s more to it. Money itself is just an object; its value is dependant on foundations of belief. For this reason, it is important to recognize that money - a mere object - is not what gives us happiness; rather, it is the opportunities , the choices and the securities that come with it which make us happy.
So over-reliance and over-dependence on this object — and thus, the rejection of the aforementioned concept — can create many of the problems facing society today, such as emphasis on net worth and the glorification of materialism.
Ultimately, as time has progressed, the world has become too obsessed with money, leading to new ideas to combat materialism. Advocates for minimalism, for example, continually emphasize their lack of need for money because, in their eyes, it doesn’t lead to happiness. I consider this inherently false, and consider minimalism as taking away from exploring the world and more of a competition to see who can live with the least amount of materials. Even in a regular setting, making mistakes and spending too much money can teach us lessons and spending money shouldn’t have such a negative stigma because it’s an adventure in itself.
All the time, families, siblings and friends fight over jobs, promotions and other opportunities to make money because materialism creates the idea that money equates to power, even though it doesn’t. People who buy into the idea that money on its own buys happiness end up doing things that hurt the people around them and they tend to forget who they are. Often times, people will not stand up for what they believe in or will do something against their core values just to get more money. But money isn’t about that; money is a way to organize things, to make society fair and to create a clear bridge between a person and opportunities.
Your net worth doesn’t define who you are as a person, but it does represent a part of your accomplishments and it comes with insurance and comfort. The fact of the matter is that if you have a decent amount of money to live by, you feel comfortable with your situation, so you feel happier. Not having to worry about issues related to money takes a huge strain off of people’s lives and inherently makes them happier.
So yes, minimalists can continue preaching that money does not equal happiness, and yes, the materialists can carry on with their lives, working day and night to make that hefty income. But the truth is, money will always have a clear link to happiness. After all, it gives us the choices and opportunities that make achieving happiness all the more easier.
Graphic bt Sarah Young