How Money Relates to Happiness

Lizzy Dalise

The idea of true happiness is in constantly being altered and changed as new experiences and traditions come about within a society. Often people correlate the idea of true happiness with the amount of money they have; for example, I believe the majority of people in our society relate true happiness to what materialistic things they can buy with their money. Aristotle defines happiness as a “certain kind of exercise of the vital faculties in accordance with the excellence of virtue”[1].  Yes, money can buy one things that temporarily make them happy but it cannot buy happiness; One’s wealth isnt enough to bring about true happiness, but what one chooses to do with their wealth can both positively and negatively affect their own and others happiness. Ultimately, wealth may bring about a happy feeling but it simply is not enough to buy one’s true happiness.

It is important to establish the fact that money is not the same thing as happiness, which is a common misconception in our society today, but the powerful effect that wealth has on happiness is misunderstood and overlooked. Let’s put this into perspective: Say you are used to working lenient hours that allow you to come home and spend time with your family and friends, making a rather steady income. You are then offered a significant raise which requires you to work heavy hours, leaving you with no time to come home and see your family and friends. Which would you be happier in? Yes, you are making a higher income but you are constantly stressed and no longer sleep a healthy amount. The opportunity cost for earning a higher wage is the time well-spent with your family and friends and a lack of sleep; is the raise really worth it?

Money itself is not enough to buy one’s happiness, but what one chooses to do with their money can buy happiness. Money can indeed buy experiences that ultimately can up our happiness (and quite frankly do the exact opposite.) For example, say you buy a ticket to Hamilton (a play in New York,) for $700 because you have always wanted to see it in person rather than on TV. You have the best night of your life because this is something that you’ve always wanted to do but then realize you missed your daughter’s first soccer game. Yes, the money you spent on this ticket contributed to your own happiness, but it sure did put a damper on your daughter’s happiness. Aristotle stated that “as for the money-making life, it is something quite contrary to nature; and wealth evidently is not the good of which we are in search, for it is merely useful as a means to something else.”[2] Many of the decisions we make with our money have a strong input on our own and other’s happiness. I believe that it is the very decisions we choose to make with our money that effect ours and other people’s happiness, not money itself though.



[1] Aristotle. “The Nicomachean Ethics.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. H Rackham, n.d. Web. 5 December 2016.


[2] “Online Library of Liberty.” The Nicomachean Ethics -. Accessed December 5, 2016.

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