Money can’t buy happiness

By Lauren Trumbull

News and Features Editor

I noticed the other day just how much my friends and I stress about money, and how could we not? Our incomes consist of $7.25 an hour workstudy positions with bi- (sometimes tri-) weekly paychecks that are dispersed between gas money, student loans and Uber rides.

And sure, we all have good moments here and there. The weeks that we do not go out to eat or splurge on something from T.J. Maxx, leaving our wallets a little fuller than normal. But I have come to realize that the days a $20 bill sits untouched in my bag does not mean I am any happier than the day negative $10 was in my bank account. Happiness always comes down to the people I spend my time with, and for this reason, I believe money can’t buy happiness.

Society has us trained to believe that an abundance of wealth will turn into joy. Every week, adults are given the opportunity to make this dream come true with the lottery, in which people spend money to win money. In 2016, Americans spent $73.5 million on traditional lottery tickets, with the average adult individually spending $325 a year on tickets.

When I hear people discussing the chance to win millions of dollars, it is typically followed with the question, “What would you buy first?” But that is the problem; material possessions cannot buy happiness. I can think back on so many things I purchased because I thought they would make me happy, like a beautiful watch or a new iPhone, but the happiness those objects brought me was fleeting.

Then I think back on the memories I have with my friends in which we sat in a room, no money spent and just enjoyed each others company. Those moments still make me smile and laugh, creating an everlasting feeling of happiness, with no cost at all.

A study published by Jordi Quoidbach, Elizabeth Dunn, K.V. Petrides and Moira Mikolajczak titled Money Giveth, Money Taketh Away: The Dual Effect of Wealth on Happiness confirms my belief that happiness comes from the way we spend our time, not our money. The researchers looked at savoring, which is a form of emotion used to lengthen and heighten positive experiences, and how money impacted the ability to savor small moments in everyday life.

The researchers found that money fails to bring happiness because money keeps people from savoring a moment. They also found that the reminder of money undermined the ability for participants’ in the study to enjoy and savor something as simple as eating chocolate. Reminding the participants’ about money caused them to dedicate less time to eating chocolate and had overall low levels of enjoyment in eating chocolate.

This study helps explain why my happiest moments are ones in which I am simply sitting with the people that matter most. It is because I am fully in the moment, savoring every minute. So the next time you think you need to save money to buy the latest technology or a new pair of sneakers, think about how it will impact you in the long run. It may just be better to put the money away, spend time with friends and savor every moment, for those will be the ones you will happily look back on years from now.

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