In my opinion, saying “Money can’t buy you happiness.” is an excuse for telling people they don’t need money. It’s like saying “Trees can’t grow you happiness.” or “Friends can’t make you happy.” because Happiness isn’t something you can put in a box with a pretty bow on top. Happiness is a formula of things that combine to generate an emotional state. This formula relies heavily on yourself and your environment. Environment + Context + You = Emotional State. Money is just an environmental that, depending on the context, can be a supporter or detractor for happiness. Another factor is YOU. Your attitude, what you do, and how you choose to interact with the other components of this formula, play a big part in whether this equates to Happiness or not. So no, money cannot buy you happiness, just as trees, friends, no one and nothing can make you happy… technically.
I see people using the notion that billionaires money didn’t make them happy and that spending their money on charities and other people is what made them happy. See, here’s my problem with that notion… if they didn’t have a billion dollars they couldn’t be giving away so much money to charities and people. If you were dirt poor and couldn’t afford to spend your money on other people, that wouldn’t mean you couldn’t be happy or generous. The real slogan of happy billionaires and happy people in general shouldn’t be “Money can’t buy you happiness!”, it should be “How you choose to spend your money is what will make you happy.” or “Your attitude and choices will bring you happiness.”
Think about it this way… if you have no job, no money, no girlfriend, no friends, and no place to live, and you live in the desert where it’s always super hot and never rains… okay yeah, you’re gonna be miserable. If you happen to love the heat, living on the land scavenging for food, and being a hermit (CONTEXT)… well okay, then maybe you’re happy. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible. So, finding a job will bring you money and that money will give you the means to get a place to live, perhaps move out of the desert, and get a nice shower and nice cloths to make you presentable for a girlfriend. Heck, you might even make friends at work! In this instance, that money was a vital tool on achieving the goals to happiness. Did the money make you happy? No, not technically. You used your money to get what you needed in order to be happy.
If you get that job and you have the money to do what you need, but you are too lazy to take a shower or go out to meet girls, or you aren’t nice enough to make friends, and your too scared to move out of the desert and instead wallow in the heat and misery, and continue to cry about how much you hate your life when you are too stubborn and negative to do anything about it… it’s all on YOU (this is the YOU factor)! YOU are the reason you aren’t happy. If you are too picky, too stubborn, and not open to anything new or different, then you need to change your attitude or else you’ll never be happy.
There are going to be outside factors (ENVIRONMENT) that are harsh and will generate a significant amount of unhappiness. Just remember, that even in the depths of hard times, you can still find time to smile under the right circumstances… like saving a life, giving a portion of your scarce food to someone else, hugging a loved one, etc (the YOU factor). I’ve been dirt poor and unhappy in the past… but one of the reasons I love my husband so much is because while we were in those harsher times he was determined to make me smile and laugh, and make the best out of what we had. He was so creative in the kitchen when we had little to no food, and he surprised me with his creations. There were days, or nights, when he’d drag me out of the house to find something to do. I was sick at the time, so I hurt and felt awful (context). We didn’t have money to do anything or eat… yet he dragged me out and we managed to get food and find something fun to do. We never stole nor begged for money on the streets. We found amazing places, amazing things, amazing people. There were times, that we felt like we were lucky in small doses. I look back and I still think we were lucky.
I will say that I’ve been unhappy in my time and I’ve learned quite a bit about being happy. I’m not an expert, but I feel like I have wisdom on the subject of happiness. It was a journey for me. My journey to happiness started with ME (the YOU factor). I made the CHOICE, that I was tired of being unhappy (YOU factor again). I wanted to be HAPPY and I CHOSE to be WHO I AM, and not care about the judgements of others (YOU is a constant factor). This lead to losing friends who were never truly friends and ending up with real friends (CONTEXT). Then I CHOSE to take chances, take risks, and be open. If I hadn’t done this, I would have never met the man I’ve loved for the past 12 years (I LOVE YOU!). Finding a person to love and battle the world with me was a huge success for me! Next on my journey for happiness was getting better. Being sick is a little bit of the whole formula, since I couldn’t control the fact that I had this illness (ENVIRONMENT), the combination of hormones jacking up my emotional stability and the pain I felt made me miserable (CONTEXT), but how I choose to behavior and manage my moods and pain (YOU factor) all played a role. After winning that battle, my attitude improved dramatically. I started out not caring about money, but after being miserable and poor, that changed. The next road to happiness was more self improvement. We battled ourselves in efforts to be more responsible, make better decisions, and change how we lived our lives. These improvements lead to a steady income (yay money!), better friendships (yay support!), and an all around successful, stable life (and happiness!). It was such a hard journey, but we made it. I was a force to be reckoned with and I felt like it was more than a journey… it was a battle and an ultimate victory. I will always fight for my happiness.
I look back and I see so many factors that were outside my control and not my fault. Yet, self improvement was the answer to every obstacle I had to change, but it was a fundamental change for the better. I did NOT compromise WHO I AM in any way. In fact, being who I am was one the most important thing I had to accomplish before I could be happy. So, now you know my secret to happiness and I hope you find yours too.