Money Doesn’t Always Equal Happiness

Anel Negrete – Honorbond

How often do we hear, “I’d be so much happier if I had more money?” This would make sense because with more money you are able to buy and own more things than you could if you had less money. You could buy that brand new car you’ve always wanted or those concert tickets to see that band you’ve been dying to see. That’ll make you happy, won’t it? Well first we have to figure out how to make more money, and then should understand what true happiness is.

Let’s focus on our first question, how do you get more money? The answer is simple, maximize hours or maximize you productivity level in order to get a higher pay. Suppose you do this and you get a greater income than before, is happiness achieved then? “The things we do must make us happy; otherwise we would not do them … growing richer must make us better off because we can do and have more of the things we enjoy. Yet survey results tell us something different. Richer may not be happier” [1]. Say you earned enough money to get those concert tickets, and you went and you had a great time. What happens after the concert? You continue with your normal routine of work. Sure, you bought your tickets because you had more money, but that happiness was only short term. Surveys have said that “the richer you become, the more money you need to increase your satisfaction further” [2]. Satisfaction ties into our happiness, but what is happiness?

Aristotle helps us define and understand what it really means. He defines happiness as “the function of man, then, is exercise of his vital fallacies [or soul] on one side in obedience to reason and on the other side with reason” [3]. Here we can see he is not talking about a feeling that we experience when over materialistic things such as concert tickets or cars. These feelings have to do with pleasure, which is often mistaken as happiness. Aristotle tells us that happiness is using reason in the most significant way possible, which would lead us to our virtues. Once we successfully practice our virtues is when we can be truly happy.

What does this have to do with you just wanting to purchase your concert tickets and call it a day? The point being that money does not mean happiness. You can have all the money in the world to buy as many of those concert tickets that you want, but without practicing virtues as Aristotle says, you will never truly be happy.



[1] Charles Wheelan, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010), 198.

[2] “Everything You Need to Know about Whether Money Makes You Happy – 80,000 Hours.” 80000 Hours Everything You Need to Know about Whether Money Makes Youhappy Comments. N.p., Mar. 2015. Web. 21 June 2016.

[3] Aristotle. “The Nicomachean Ethics.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. H Rackham, n.d. Web. 21 June 2016.


Klontz, Brad. “If Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, What Does?” Personal Financial, 7 May 2013. Web. 21 June 2016. <


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