Why Can't Money Buy Happiness?
September 22 2017 - We hear this platitude all the time: Money can't buy happiness. We all nod smugly, agree with various amounts of insincerity, and go on acquiring as much of the green stuff as we can. Because even if money can't buy happiness, it can buy an awful lot of freedom from worry, stress and discomfort.
But apparently freedom from worry, stress and discomfort is not enough to provide happiness. not unless all the stories of wealthy, unhappy people are complete fiction. There must be something more. What is it.
All throughout your life you probably had moments of happiness. These were most likely very brief. But I bet they are there. Get a good grade in an algebra test when you were thirteen, and bingo, you were happy all afternoon. Solve the Sunday paper cryptogram, and you were happy for maybe five minutes. Land your first real job, and you were probably happy for the whole week.
So what do all these events have in common? Simple, these are moments when you achieved some sort of goal, preferably one you set yourself.
Now admittedly, not all happiness is created equal. I'm not saying that solving a newspaper puzzle is equivalent to getting a job. Of course they're not. They don't have to be. But they do offer some measure of happiness. They do provide a gain in your life beyond the mild complacency that for the moment nothing is going horribly wrong.
A small happiness is like a potato chip. It may not be as satisfying as consuming the gourmet feast of an Olympic gold medal, but chips are a lot easier to get, and nobody eats just one.
So what is the difference between happy and unhappy people? Unhappy people either don't set goals, or they set such big, vague, or unobtainable goals that there is no way