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What Makes Us Happy?

Updated on February 13, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Peace, harmony, and lifelong learning are Liz's passions. She's outspoken on education and childhood and is an activist in local politics.

Measure of Obscene Wealth

Hearst Castle in California, is a prime example of embarrassing amounts of  wealth
Hearst Castle in California, is a prime example of embarrassing amounts of wealth | Source

Why Are So Many Wealthy Folks Supposedly Not Happy?

No, money cannot "buy" happiness, but it certainly can improve your standard of living. By that, I mean the basic survival needs, and not the very latest electronic gadget or fancy car. It has been pointed out oh, so many times, that many of the wealthy are not happy. This may be so, but it has more to do with their lifestyle choices than the fact that they have a lot of money.

In many cases, they are bored, because they are so narcissistic. They've bought themselves every conceivable toy, appliance, article of clothing, upgrade to their homes, personal trainers, and what-have-you, that they have gotten stuck in a mental rut of "What do I do now to top this?" "Where do I go from here?" They are not happy because they are missing the point.

The really unhappy wealthy folk are selfish; it does not occur to them to spread the wealth around, or if it does, they do so inappropriately, financing wasteful political campaigns, which of course, have no guarantee of putting them and their dollars on the winning side; or doling out a meager few hundred dollars of their many millions to a small charity, so they can give themselves a few temporary "feel-good" props.

They make these "donations" to make news, to appear generous, when the truth of the matter is, they do not want to part with a single precious penny. They have not learned that their wealth cannot be carried beyond the grave we all face.

Neither have they learned that, while they may well have offspring, they do not owe their children any inheritance. There is no law saying a parent's wealth must be left to the children. And so, begins another generation of spoiled rotten, bored, rich brats with no clue about working for a living, and learning to appreciate what they have earned by their own efforts.

So, these spoiled brats get involved in drugs; die from overdoses of thse street drugs, get caught with prostitutes in cars; get busted for DUI's; make headlines for record-breaking short-term marriages, and other gossip-worthy "who cares, anyway?" activities.

Hearst Castle's Pool

This is quite the pool; just think of all the more useful things this money could have bought!
This is quite the pool; just think of all the more useful things this money could have bought! | Source

Why Aren't the Poor Happy?

Oftentimes, people like to claim that "there are many poor people who are very happy." I doubt very much it is a poor person saying that very often. Struggling every day for one's very survival with no means of support is not fun. It is stressful in the extreme. The next time you walk down the street and see a few homeless people, instead of pretending they are invisible, stop and ask them how happy they are. Ask them how they became homeless.

Did you know that many of the homeless are military veterans, often wounded in battle, shipped home, and discarded by the very government they swore to serve, and in whose name they were injured? Yes, folks, they all too often end up homeless on the streets, eking out a bare existence. As them if they are happy.

Ask the people out of work or in danger of losing their homes if they are happy. Ask them if money would help them to feel happier. I'm not talking about having the Midas Touch, here; I'm only referring to the ability to live a life free of worry over where the next meal is coming from; a life free of worry over the inability to provide proper food or medical care for oneself and family.

These folks are the victims of sub-standard care begrudgingly dished out by county agencies or the federal government.

Not being able to afford the more nutritious food because it costs more than the high-calorie garbage, offered by huge food conglomerates interested only in their profit margins, is another factor. Many of the poor are plagued with obesity because junk costs less than nutritional food; not because they are squandering their meager pennies by pigging out on gourmet meals! It is a shameful commentary on our society.

What Does It Take to be Happy?

How can anyone be truly happy if they don't feel well, lack energy, and have health issues that go unresolved? How can they feel happy when the cannot find a job that pays an adequate wage to support themselves and their family?

No, money might not "buy happiness" in the usually intended sense of the phrase, but it sure can ease stress, allow you to maintain physical and mental health, and in general, live a happier life free of worry over these things.

So, yes, a better standard of living, provided by--yes, money, does provide for an easier road to happiness.

This is Abject Poverty


Would I Like to be Filthy Rich?

I have no doubt in my mind that with great wealth is liable to come headaches of one sort or another. But yes, I'd love to have that kind of money.

Not so I can buy grand estates, hire personal trainers and have chauffeurs, mind you, but so that I could carry out some of the grand plans I've never been able to do.

I'd love to set up a real, working charity to care for our disabled vets and see they get the proper care they deserve.

I've always had a soft spot for animals, and I'd want to set up a true no-kill animal shelter, and provide free medical care for the pets of poor folks. Because even in times of great stress, our furry animal pals provide us with unconditional love, and a willing snuggle when we're feeling down. It is medically proven, even, that pets lower blood pressure and relieve stress. So, the poor need pets as much as or more than anyone, and should be helped to have them.

Make no mistake--I would pay off my house, and make renovations to retrofit it for our needs--but that does not mean turning it into a mansion of grand proportions! It just means doing deferred repairs. But, since I don't see a winning lotto ticket in my future, I'll just keep plugging along, doing what I do.

I don't need vast wealth to "make" me happy, but I do wish I could afford proper medical care, especially as I age. I don't think that's asking too much, and enough money to simply insure that, yes, would make me very happy indeed.


I have noticed that most of the comments seem to lean toward how "easy" it is to be happy...given a certain set of other circumstances, such as health, youth, solid support systems, or what have you.

It is also possible that my previous section, noting how happy I would be to be able to have enough money to be a philanthropist was misinterpreted by some to mean that I am an unhappy person. Not so. I am reasonably happy; I am grateful for what I do have. I also happen to think it would simply be "nice" to have enough extra to be able to share and help the less fortunate.

So, I think I perhaps did not make clear that I was focusing more on the people who are lacking all of those things. People who instead are faced with abject poverty; a life on the streets; a lack of family who cares; no friends, and whose social "benefits" are exhausted. There are also those whose "benefits" have run out, or for some bureaucratic reason or another, find themselves no longer eligible.

Sick, out of luck and money, they have been kicked to the fringes of society; stepped over in disgust by the luckier ones walking down the streets that these unfortunates must call "home."

You'd better believe that enough money to get them off the streets and able to afford health care would make them happy!

© 2012 Liz Elias


Submit a Comment
  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, SanXuary--

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. You make an excellent point, and one that those consumed by material possessions miss. The often-made statement, intended to be a quotation from an ages-old sage, "Money is the root of all evil," is actuall not quite correct. It has had a very important word dropped out: Love. The real quote reads, "The LOVE of money is the root of all evil." That is a very different thing, which you so aptly point out.

    I appreciate your contribution to the discussion.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Excellent blog, wealth only determines what tools we have in doing the same job. So many people are so consumed by money and the material world that we never work on our spirit. To work on your spirit you have to take on the good and bad times and know that you our their to learn something about yourself. No one should ever be owned by the things they own.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, kelleyward--

    A very astute observation, indeed--stressed out people may "appear" to be unhappy--and maybe they actually are. As far as the second part of your statement, I believe that many are unhappy because they have not found their 'purpose' in live, and are just marking time.

    I'm please you liked the article--thanks so much for stopping by and adding your take.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    I think money doesn't make you happy but it can make your life less stressed. Stressed out people may appear to be unhappy and therefore it seems that people without money are unhappier than rich people. For me happiness has always depended on whether I feel I'm living true to my purpose in life. That's what makes me happy. Thanks for this great article!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, there, RealHousewife--

    Thanks for your input. I understand the problems money can cause on either side of the spectrum, and I think society needs to come up with a better way to manage the things people need and currently must pay for.

    Thanks for the votes!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 

    8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I agree with Sunshine - I think you have to be happy inside no matter how much money you have....and things I buy do add to that:) lol. I don't think money is an absolute problem solver and often adds more trouble for already unhappy people!

    Voted up and everything!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, greatstuff--Thanks much for stopping by and adding your iput to the comments. Much appreciated.

  • greatstuff profile image


    8 years ago from Malaysia

    Hi Dzy, another awesome hubs from you. I totally agree with you. By the way, if you go to undevelop and developing countries, there are some very happy people despite being poor because their needs are vey basic. In fact if you are their guest, you will treated very well despite their lack of cash. They give more than they take, and God rewards them in other ways.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, Cagsil--

    Thanks much for stopping by and adding to the discussion. I do agree with you, and I'll be sure to check out your hub on the matter as well.

  • Cagsil profile image

    Raymond D Choiniere 

    8 years ago from USA

    Hey Dzy, money and happiness are not mutually exclusive. Happiness is a state of mind. Money is just a tool which can be used to carve life up, so as to reach that state of mind. Money, it's power and the respect it deserves is misunderstood by many. Nice hub. Good points. I wrote a hub on the Power of Money. Thank you for sharing. :)

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, Sunshine625--

    Thank you so much for your input and compliment. You understand exactly what I am saying--there are the selsfish, unhappy wealthy, and there are the ones on the other side, who'd like extra money so they CAN use it to help the downtrodden.

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 

    8 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Money can't buy happiness but money can make people happy. By sharing the wealth and helping others who are in less fortunate situations that is where the happiness should come in. Thank you for this hub DzyMsLizzy. You make me happy:)

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, steph--

    You make some excellent and important points. It is true that "happiness" does not mean the kind of constant joy or euphoria sought out by drug addicts, who were never happy people to start with.

    I am happy and grateful to have a loving husband, a roof over my head, my daughters and grandchildren, our beautiful cats who offer constant companionship and comfort.

    Many of us, myself included, were raised by parents who grew up and lived through the ear of the first Great Depression in the 1920's. We were raised to be frugal, to be in fear and horror of being in debt, of being "beholden" upon others. They went through that; they wanted better for their children. So, the "American Dream" of every family in their own single-family home was born; the concept of providing WELL for one's family came about, so we would not have to put cardboard inserts in our shoes instead of having them re-soled at the shoe maker's, and so on. Out of that grew the concept of "keeping up with the Jonses."

    It is not necessary to do that, but a majority of people still think it is.

    Happiness also comes, as you point out, a good mental outlook. For those with chronic pain, the physical stress of ill health is debilatating, and makes keeping a positive outlook challenging in the extreme.

    I appreciate your input--thanks for stopping by.

  • stephhicks68 profile image

    Stephanie Marshall 

    8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    The year after I lost my job was such an eye-opener. We cut out many "extras," including dinners out/movies/gym memberships, etc. and yet our happiness did not diminish. Was it stressful? Of course! Did we worry about losing the house? Yep. But I have to believe that money does not buy happiness and the same issues you are dealing with on a daily basis (rejection, grief, strife) continue to exist. How you manage and react to such situations is the key to happiness.

    And that said, happiness is not a sense of euphoria or unbridled joy. Happiness is found in quiet moments of gratefulness, whether for a hot meal, or warm friendship. We should quiet ourselves to recognize that we are, in fact, happy more often than we realize.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ nextstopjupiter--Thanks for your input. It varies, I am sure, from person to person. If you have someone you can live with, you can manage nicely, I suppose, on very minimal money, but as a general rule, our society is constructed based upon having money--at least enough to pay for shelter and food. Some people can manage to stay alive if homeless--for others, being homeless would amount to a death sentence.

    Interestingly, the article you reference points out quite clearly:

    "..But the irony of Schwermer’s lifestyle is that it relies on the charity of people who have money.."

    @ Christine-- hello, my friend. Thanks so much sharing your views so clearly. You have indeed been lucky. You can, indeed, get by with true friends and the committment of family members. Not everyone is so lucky. Some have no family left; some have families so broken that they have become worse than enemies; most people have acquaintances--a true and dear friend is a rarity.

    I suspect we do "learn" something; I think there is more evidence than not for the concept of "going around again," but otherwise, you and I differ in our personal beliefs. I don't believe in "heaven" or "hell." I think we create our own personal "heavens" or "hells" right here on Earth.

    When you have more things go wrong than right, it is very emotionally draining, and that creates stress, which in turn creates ill health. If you don't have enough money to rectify those situations, life can easily become a "why bother?" scenario--it explains one reason people choose suicide. I don't think that's the answer--I feel it is a very selfish choice, but I can understand how people arrive at that level of desperation.

  • Christine B. profile image

    Christine B. 

    8 years ago from Medina, Ohio

    In this incarnation, I have had to struggle and have never had enough money. It's been at times very frustrating. However, if I had never been in need of help along the way, I would never realize the great gift friendship is. I wouldn't truly understand the love and commitment of a true friend and/or family member. It's a lesson you cannot learn from being wealthy. The entire reason we are here on Earth is to experience every facet of life and to learn lessons from each road we must go down. I was once much richer than I am in this incarnation, but I wasn't happy... I was once much poorer as well. I learned different lessons from each experience. I'm happy for the opportunity to experience everything there is to learn, no matter what my financial situation brings. Life is the lesson--Heaven is the reward. As long as I keep that in mind, I can smile through just about anything.

  • nextstopjupiter profile image


    8 years ago from here, there and everywhere

    For seventeen months Im lived on less than 2$ a day, it was the happiest time of my life. But I am not the only one who is happy without money ...

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ L.L.Woodard--I so agree. What is the point of such a huge home? No one needs THAT much space. It is an obscene display of elietism and snobbery at its worst. Indeed, if they have that much extra money; if they're going to build such a huge house, they should instead make build homes for the homelessThanks so much for your input.

    @ gogogo-- Thanks very much for the compliment, and your comment. I appreciate the input.

    @ tamarawhite-- You got it--wads of money cannot "make" you happy, but enough to live on can keep you from being absolutely miserable. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the discussion.

    @ suejanet-- The key words are "happy, healthy person." Happiness has a strong connection to being healthy, and lacking enough money to maintain health makes happiness difficult. "Living well" is a bit of a loaded phrase, in my opinion, as it means so many different things to so many different people. Some (myself included) would define "living well" as never needing to worry about being able to buy the healthiest food, pay for a roof over our heads and obtain any necessary medical treatment, while for others, the phrase would mean the ability to throw lavish catered parties aboard a million-dollar yacht. Thanks for adding your comment.

  • suejanet profile image


    8 years ago

    I think if you are a happy, healthy person, with a good sense of values and what is important, then having enough money to live well is great.

  • tamarawilhite profile image

    Tamara Wilhite 

    8 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

    Not having enough food, sitting in a cold dark room at night or living in fear of the next financial disaster (medical bills, car breaks down) does make life miserable. Money will not necessarily make you happy, but inability to pay for treatment for serious ailments will make you miserable.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Excellent article, I agree money - beyond your everyday necessities, will not buy you happiness, but without having money for those basic needs, we would be very unhappy. I have never seen a happy homeless person.

  • L.L. Woodard profile image

    L.L. Woodard 

    8 years ago from Oklahoma City

    When I see people building those massive homes -- places as big as some hotels -- it makes me think they are building a monument to themselves. It also seems sad, considering how much the money going into that one house could help others without a roof over their heads or food on their plates.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ Arlene-- exactly so-- you cannot buy friends, and that woman was certainly trying to make "things" into friends. Thanks much for all the votes.

    @ BlissfulWriter--you are right. You have to have enough money to survive without stress. So in that sense, the "extra" would "buy" some additional happiness, in that it would allow me to DO more things that would make me being of service, rather than just buying 'stuff.' Charitable organizations are always asking for monetary donations, because being OF SERVICE costs a LOT of money. But just to have enough to eliminate stress would be sufficient.

  • BlissfulWriter profile image


    8 years ago

    Once a person has enough money to be out of poverty, then any extra money will not buy extra happiness.

  • profile image

    Arlene V. Poma 

    8 years ago

    I had a friend who became an ex-friend because I realized that her trust fund from grandma, daddy and mommy made it so that she bought anything she wanted. Money got in the way of what she could have been in life. She claimed that the money would guarantee a life for her and her husband, and they had more than enough to live on. Well, whoopee! But she wasn't truly happy because she pinched every penny until it squealed, and she was always trying to keep up with the Joneses. She hated her family and cheated on hubby. And on and on and on. I do agree with a lot about what you're saying in this Hub, but I enjoyed it because it made me think. We could all use some cash for things we need, but as far as the material things like mansions, those are things to me. It's people that count. Relationships that count. That's why I could not be friends with The Poor Little Rich Girl. She constantly bought things to feed her empty life and soul. She never considered building true relationships with people because the Almighty Dollar was Numero Uno in her life. Her "gifts" to charity were not gifts, but announcements that she gave money. Which, she thought, would make her hubby seem like a good guy when he tried to run for office. Unfortunately, plenty people think like her. Voted up and everything else.


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