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Money Cannot Buy Happiness. Really?

Updated on January 25, 2013

Money Can't Buy Happiness

I must have heard this expression a thousand times since my school days. It’s one of those worldly facts which we keep assimilating, passively, without even questioning their validity and relevance in the present times. I guess such thoughts must have erupted, in ancient times, in the minds of a few learned people living in a completely different era (than ours) where adages like ‘simple living and high thinking’ were vehemently propagated and practiced on daily basis. I’m not sure how far, in the existing world, where we staunchly believe in ‘money makes the mare go’, can the role of ‘money’ in bringing happiness, be outrightly denied. You don’t agree with me? Ok let’s find out by asking.....

1. An unemployed man (with dependant wife and children) who survives on food stamps and lives under a constant fear of losing his rented apartment just because he has enough money to pay his bills for one month.

2. A minor child who is compelled to quit school and work, on a meager daily wage, for providing food to his younger siblings.

3. A mother who, only to ensure that her kids do not starve, is left with no choice but to resort to prostitution.

4. A promising student, who is brilliant, but cannot attain some fancy college education for lack of money and finally succumbs to financial pressures at home and ends up working 60 hrs a week, doing some menial jobs. What a waste!

5. A young toddler who secretly envies his friends, living in the neighborhood, when he watches them play with expensive toys.

6. An orphan who never gets the privilege of living in a protected and sheltered environment. Ask him, what Christmas means to him without celebrations and gifts. Ever seen his empty eyes?

7. A homeless who has to live a life full of pretensions in front of his co-workers. Can you guess what his major problem is, apart from not being able to afford an apartment? What else but finding a place every morning for taking a shower. The other day a news channel reported 8% of (working class) New Yorkers as homeless and these people were shown attending college and working for a living like everybody else. Wonder how challenging life could be for them! Reminds me of Chris Gardner who rose from a homeless single parent to a successful stockbroker in California.

8. A grieving wife who is forced to sell her house to liquidate the debts of her dead husband.

9. A tormented mother who helplessly watches her child (suffering from cancer) slowly crawling towards death for not being able to pay for the medical bills. Ever imagined how horrible and humiliating asking for donations can be?

10. A woman, who spent twenty years of her life under the illusion that her future was secure and would be taken care of by her husband, ends up being divorced by her man for another younger woman. To add salt to the injury, her college going son chooses to live with his father only because he knows that his mother would not be able to take care of his financial needs. Imagine the plight of such a despondent woman who finds herself with no shelter and no money to sustain in the event of a pre-nuptial agreement, which she had, at one time, signed in good faith and out of love.

Financial inadequacy

The list is endless and so is the untold misery of countless people who struggle to survive on the same planet as we do. If money can bring happiness in the lives of all such needy people then who are those people who say money is not important. Obviously…the ones who have it or those who have lost interest in the material side of the world as a result of some traumatic experiences. Well, they might have other reasons to be unhappy and disgruntled with their lives but then life is like that….incomplete.Sadly, we spend most of our time, whining and praying for something we don’t have, whether it’s money or love. Life is supposed to be full of abundance which has to be a composite of health, wealth and happiness. The paucity of even one of the stated factors leads to discontentment, disillusionment, negativity, emotional disturbance and in extreme cases, can result in mental disorders and disorientation. So to say that money is not important, is nothing but one big hypocritical statement. Money can, undoubtedly, buy happiness and mental peace to a great extent in the kind of world we are living in. In fact, if we look closer, we’ll find that at least three-fourths of the exploitation cases have their roots in ‘financial inadequacy’ of the ones who are exploited.

Our pledge

Admittedly, we cannot help all the needy and poor of this world but we can least try to brighten up the empty and desolate lives of a few children who have been chosen to live a kind of life which no child deserves. On this Christmas let all of us promise to ourselves that we would make a humble and sincere effort to bring smile on the faces of a few children who spend their entire childhood, deprived of the comfort and luxury of a home and parental care. Let’s make our own kids realize how fortunate they are and how grateful they should be for all that God has given them. It won’t be a bad idea to pay a visit to a shelter with your kids and ask them to spend time with the inmates. I’m sure by the time they come back home they would’ve stopped complaining about the things they don’t possess.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Can money buy happiness

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    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 6 years ago from New York

      @Express10: I totally agree. Thank you for an insightful comment. :)

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 6 years ago from East Coast

      This is a very good article. Money is important in modern life, plain and simple. Also, it is a lack of money (real or perceived) that is the root of many evils in our world.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 6 years ago from New York

      @ Neelesh Kulkarni and @Sidhartha :

      I apologize for not replying to your posts for such a long time. Somehow I didn't get any notification as to your comments from Hubpages like I do always.

      Speaking of your opinions....there's not anything for me to say or comment. Every person's thought process is a result of his background and past to say. I respect your views. Thanks for joining in.

    • profile image

      Siddhartha 6 years ago

      Most of the communities in the entire Indian sub-continent(such as Bengali) succumbed in ‘Culture of Poverty'(Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is at all feel regret ed or ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous absorption of common social space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold(supported by some lame excuses). Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour(values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting children those are born out of ignorance, extreme poverty. It seems that all of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of ‘poverty’) in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in ‘Production of (social) Space’ (Henri Lefebvre), initiate a movement by heart, decent & dedicated Politics will definitely come up. – Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101, India.

    • neeleshkulkarni profile image

      neeleshkulkarni 7 years ago from new delhi

      many many things to say on this friend-

      i have been in glorious poverty twice in my life. We lost all our money when my father’s business failed once when mine did. so am not part of the blessed rich but am part of those that had to see even utensils in the house sold to pay off debtors , debtors turning up at 6 am to shout and scream, an MBA used to a corporate lifestyle not knowing when the next meal was coming from. So, dost i have known poverty and have come out of it so know both sides of the story.


      the whole article suffers from the fallacy that happiness is some long drawn state. You get flashes of happiness that sustain you through life. Even when we had just enough to last a day or a week or not even that we had great moments of making love, chatting all night with friends ,reading nice books scrounged from the library and so on. Now when we think back only those memories remain not the horrific poverty. So happiness without money is possible though never as a sustained feeling.

      But agree that we need a certain minimum amount of money to stay happy because your maintenance needs have to be taken care of before you can think of the higher needs. to that extent money cannot BUY happiness but make conditions wherein it is easier to look for happiness. Today I have a library of my own but even when I did not I enjoyed books all the same though yes, it is easier now. I am also looking forward to having enough money for our retirement so that we can travel , eat out , go to the theatre etc without worries.soa agree with parts of your thesis completely

      Where money begins to impede happiness is when it takes so much of your consciousness that you are unable to devote any time to cultivating the things that bring happiness to you. So in a way money after a while does impede happiness.that is of course unless the process of money making gives you happiness.

      And yes you will be glad to know I love to give away. I and my wife send money that feeds the poorest of poor children in a school in Himachal Pradesh. Go to and check them out. We send them all the lunch money from what we can manage or beg borrow or steal.

      Disjointed thoughts but then this is not a hub just a comment. So here goesssss

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York

      gmwilliams: I can't thank you enough for your wise words. I agree with all that you mentioned. In fact thats the reason why I came up with this hub in the first place. Having seen life closely, I tend to disagree with the old conventional thoughts just like the 'glorified poverty' thing you mentioned. There is nothing glorious about being poor. The one who has experienced it knows how tormenting it can be. In today's world the premise that money cannot buy happiness does seem unrealistic. Thx you very much for sharing your valuable opinion here. Look forward to reading more of your posts. :)

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Money does buy happiness and security. You are so correct stating that the premise that money cannot buy happiness is unrealistic and ludricous. Money rules the world and the richer a person is, the happier she/he is.

      There is a motto that poverty is so "enlightening". Oh, really. I was one of the few middle class children growing up in Harlem, New York during the 1960s and 1970s. I had classmates who were poor and grew up in projects. They were often jealous of the few middle class classmates like me.

      One classmate was so poor that she shook down other classmates for lunch money. She hardly had any clothes or other necessities. Poor children are not happy-they are often envious and embittered by their impoverished circumstances and it shows in many ways. They stated that more well-off children are "spoiled" because their parents have the money to purchase articles for them.

      The notion that "money cannot buy happiness" stems from the underlying ethos that being rich is horrible and being poor is glorious. This logic is inverted and twisted. Another inverted and illogical statement is that money is the root of all evil. No it is not, the lack of money is the root of all evil. When a person is impoverished, he/she is more likely to commit crime i.e. rob and steal than a person who has money.

      I remember a stupid discussion in my Catholic junior high school in which many idiotic students chimed that they knew people "who were poor and happy" while they surmised that "rich people are unhappy". I totally disagreed with this and laughed inside. I know better than this!

      The idiotic premise that "money cannot buy happiness" is so asinine. If this was so, why do so many poor children yearn to be entertainers and businesspersons? Because they can lead an affluent existence different to their impoverished existence. Good article, anjalichugh. Money is the crux of this society and money does buy happiness and existence beyond the most basic existence! Good hub!

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 7 years ago from New York

      Fucsia: Quite right! Thx for joining in. :)

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 7 years ago

      without economic stability we can not dedicate our thoughts to something higher and we can not dedicate our energies into something which we are passionate.. this is a very important topic!

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Papa Sez:

      I completely agree with you. It was nice of you to have stopped by. I would certainly visit your hub over the weekend. Thx.

    • Papa Sez profile image

      Papa Sez 8 years ago from The Philippines to Canada

      Hi anjalichugh!

      The less privileged among us indeed needs money to improve their conditions and security. There is a minimum financial requirement for well-being and so money is important.

      For those whose minimum requirements are already met to have a decent life, money can still improve the chances of being happier if it is used wisely.

      I posted a hub about money and happiness, particularly "buying experience, not stuff". You might also find it interesting. Cheers!

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York


      " someone can put it under a question."

      Well, we seem to live in a world of 'denial'. We are pretty much trained to outrightly reject anything that does not suit our pre-programmed mind. We don't even try to evaluate the facts in the light of changing society. Its just that we've been told for ages that money cannot happiness which is why some people don't seem to accept the supremacy of money in today's world. Possibly they don't want to believe it. Thx again for sharing your invaluable opinion.

    • Kreon48 profile image

      Kreon48 8 years ago from New Zealand

      Thanks, great article! I am happy that you stood up and spoke loudly and truthfully about the issue. I am sure, people who say or think that money is not that much important, obviously haven't lived for a long time without money..

      But since money is a Power, all conscious and kind people's DUTY is to make large amount of money to build a better society and better environment for themselves and for everyone. I am honestly surprised how someone can put it under a question..

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York


      Yes, life can be challenging on more than one levels but here I focussed on only one such front....lack of money. You're right in saying that we don't have much of a choice in what happens in our lives. More often than not we just have to endure that comes our way. Money is only a medium to satisfy our material needs but we need to have it first in order to move past it. There is so much more that life has to offer but if we remain stuck in the vicious circle of making both ends meet, we would never know what life actually is supposed to be. Its paucity affects other areas of life, especially, relationships. I guess you understood what I wanted to convey. Thank you very much for your wonderful words.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      When I was an Assistant Principal in high school, part of my responsibilities was discipline. Students who generally complained about "life is not fair," reflected their victimization perspective. I would reply to this statement with: "No life is not fair." Now what are YOU going to do about it?" We can be a hammer, or the nail. Life insist all of us are both at times. I think we have choices how long we are "hit," or how long we enjoy constructively driving home "nails" to construct an idea, concept, or relationships... Money is a medium whereby we exchange goods, or services. No more, no less. An analogy is what we do in life while we make plans... Our resiliency, commitments, and relationships reflects our source of "money."

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Pradeep: I understand where you're coming from. Money, surely, is a necessity but we should not give it importance more than it deserves. Very true. Thx very much for the insight and for your thoughtful comments.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Hi Shil: You're right in saying that its a subjective thing. I agree with all that you mentioned. All I wanted to say in my hub was that money is not the ultimate source of happiness but it, nevertheless, is an important source of joy. It depends on what the needs of a person are as e.g. (as I said in my hub)for a mother whose baby is fighting a life and death battle on a hospital bed would feel on top of the world if someone offers her financial help to take care of the medical expenses. I just wanted to say that the importance of money is felt when you don't have it. I appreciate your wise comments.

    • Shil1978 profile image

      Shil1978 8 years ago

      Anjali, I've thought about this question myself countless times. I'd say that one needs money to build a foundation for happiness. I could just easily say that money = happiness, but I know that isn't really the case, for I've known of people who've had loads of money, yet were miserably sad.

      So, yes, money is important and having enough to feed you and your family is vital. As to the correlation to happiness, it depends on what the person's concept of happiness is. Some may be happy with little money, some may never be happy with millions. So, its a subjective thing, though the importance of money - I wouldn't question!!

      As for the poor and needy, the uncomfortable truth that we shy away from facing is that most human beings are "selfish." Yes, we are!! Just the other day, there was this list of the world's richest and their networth is to the tune of $3.6 trillion. How much do they contribute to charity, you'd think?

      Leave them, how many of us contribute really? And those who do contribute, how many corrupt individuals and middle men eat up those funds meant for helping the poor and needy? Its not a pleasant reflection of us as humans, but bitter as it may be, it is the truth nevertheless. Poverty shouldn't be there in this world. We are a rich world as a whole, but our minds are small - that's why poverty exists I'd argue!!

      Thanks for a nice, thought-provoking hub Anjali. Well done!!

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Hi Michael: I was replying to your post in wordpress and this one popped up on my screen. You're right about the pro bono part. Somehow I've always ended up handling such cases. Gives me lot of satisfaction. Its ultimately all about happiness. Isn't it? Thx so much for your kind comments.

    • profile image

      michael j contos 8 years ago

      Money can be the means to free up people like you and me to give our time, energy and talents to help those suffering.

      Free of charge. Pro Bono. With Joyful Effort.

      michael j, Esq.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Maheshpatwal: Happiness has become a relative term these days. It may differ from one individual to the other. Depends on what you want and when your needs / desires (whatever they are) are fulfilled, you feel happy. Its as simple as that. For those who suffer financial crunch, money does bring a lot of happiness for them. Thx very much for your kind comments.

    • maheshpatwal profile image

      maheshpatwal 8 years ago from MUMBAI

      In this material world where we are living today money is very important though it can not buy you a happiness but it means a lot for underprivileged .........

      thank you anjali for sharing your beautiful thoughts with all all hub mates..........

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Jyothi Kothari: I only meant importance of money in this materialistic world. If you renounce this world (like Buddha & Mahavira)then of course you don't need it. Thx for taking time to read this hub. Your comments are appreciated.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 8 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi Anjali,

      I am partially agree with you. It is not that money is not required to live an earthly life but money is not every thing. You have depicted rightly problems and evils of have not's.

      However, if you look at the haves you will found that even they are not happy. Pld people were wise enough and they had seen both sides of the coin.

      Look at Rama, Mahavira or Buddha who have left everything for the quest of eternal peace!

      Thanks for a nice hub. I rated it up.

      Jyoti Kothari

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      premsingh: You're right...excess of everything is bad but who's talking about excess here. I just wish everyone has the basic minimum to live a respectable and decent life. Thank you very much for being a part of this hub. You've always been an inspiration for many hubbers including me. Take care.

    • premsingh profile image

      premsingh 8 years ago

      Anjali don't be sad thinking about all poor and helpless people in this world. God is there to take care of all orphans. You just do your duties and help as many people (also other living creatures) as you can with your sparable resources. I agree with your views that money is a necessity to survive but one day God will make you realise that it can bring happiness just by fullfilling your materialistic needs and not spiritualistic and other needs. On the contrary, money creates several problems when it is in excess of your needs.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      my-success-guru & James Watkins:

      I wish I could do more than just being compassionate. I guess I have to wait till God graces me with an opportunity to help those in need. Thx very much for your warm and kind words. I really appreciate.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      You surely have a big, warm heart. "The poor will always be with you" once said a very famous man. And that is true. We must do all we can to help our neighbors with their needs. Who is our neighbor? Anyone we can help.

    • my-success-guru profile image

      my-success-guru 8 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hi Anjali,

      Your beautifully orchestrated, heart felt messages make one reflect on those less fortunate. Money can provide security, and security to a large extent can provide happiness! I love underdog stories like in the movie The Pursuit of Happiness!

      Happy Holidays-May you be blessed and find everlasting peace!

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      My sweet Deborah: Your words always boost my morale. You're a wonderful person yourself. I've a similar dream (building a home...) but lets see how far I can succeed. God has to give me chance to do that. Thx very much for visiting this hub. I feel flattered by your presence.

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 8 years ago

      You are so right. The things we can do with money most certainly can bring us happiness. I would love to build a big building where the homeless and starving children and elderly could come and go as they please. To give them warmth when it is cold and raining. For all homeless people to stay for a time and even employ them. It would make my heart sing to help all people, if only I could.

      Great hub with wonderful truth. Written by a wonderful lady!!!

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      AdsenseStrategies & Philipo

      Money has the power to mitigate almost all the problems we encounter in our daily lives. Thx for sharing your opinion and adding value to this hub.

    • Philipo profile image

      Philipo 8 years ago from Nigeria

      Life is not worth living without money. Infact, money answereth all things. It separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.

    • AdsenseStrategies profile image

      AdsenseStrategies 8 years ago from CONTACT ME at

      I totally support what you are saying here. Money is very important to happiness if you are below a certain threshold of poverty. No question about it.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Paradise7: I keep writing what I believe in, whether right or wrong. Thank you very much for your continued support and encouragement.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 8 years ago from Upstate New York

      This was a terrific hub. I'm glad you wrote it. I agree with everything you said. You put it well, too. Money can't buy happiness but it's awfully tough being happy without money in this day and age.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Nasreen: Thx a ton for your generous words.

    • Miss Nasreen profile image

      Miss Nasreen 8 years ago

      Great Great Great Thinking Anjalicchugh

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Tatjana & HP Roychoudhury:

      I appreciate your taking time to read this hub. Thx for your kind comments.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Without money stability of life can not be attained but money can not buy happiness - true.

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 8 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Money is certainly very important in our world. That is the way it is.

      Great Hub, as usual, Anjali.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Hi Pam! Yes, it's difficult to get into a habit of parting with the excess. The 'excess' is, of course, a relative term but we need to draw a line somewhere. Well, for a start we can contribute whatever little we can to help the underprivileged. I wish I had realized much earlier in life that happiness does not lie only in achieving but in giving as well. Thx very much for your kind comments.

      Graham Bretton: Speaking of adages, my English teacher once told me in High School (almost 3 decades ago)that an individual interprets the same poem in different ways at different stages of his life. So, the adage you mentioned holds good enough for an energetic, enthusiastic, vibrant and not so experienced youngster like you. At my age I would say.. doing only what you love does not sometimes pay your bills. Lol.

    • profile image

      Graham Bretton 8 years ago

      unfortunately, by the very nature of an economic system, not everyone can have financial security. You forgot to mention how money cripples an individual, let me ask you this: do you know where the oil filter on your car is? Now that is a mundane example, but I feel it makes my point. Being only 22 years old I am choosing to subscribe to the adage: "do what you love, and the money will follow."

    • profile image

      pgrundy 8 years ago

      So well said, as usual. You cut right to the heart of it. Money may not buy happiness but it buys a close-enough approximation of it. I've had enough and not enough in my life, and I can say honestly that anything over enough feels pretty much the same no matter what the number attached to it. But when there isn't enough food or heat or you don't have shelter, that is scary and miserable. So I try to remember that when I have more than I need so I will have the sense to give it away. I don't always manage--I get the security monster on my back too--but I do what I can. If only we all did that and made a habit of it, what a different world it would be.

    • anjalichugh profile image

      anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

      Nancy's Niche: As you rightly said, we are living in a very difficult phase. Things have gotten so tough for most of us that sailing through seems to be possible only if we hold hands and help each other in times of crisis. If our neighbor's house, God forbid. catches fire, we should remind ourselves that it could happen to us and try to salvage whatever we can. In the times we are living in, our approach to someone else's distress could be a governing factor in deciding the chances of our own survival. Thx very much for your appreciation.

      Hi Marie: Absolutely right! Being spiritual does not mean that one doesn't need money. Money is still required to survive. It's better to admit i'ts importance and strive hard to earn enough to sustain ourselves and even better... to use it for the benefit of those who desperately need it, whenever we can. Thx for your presence.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Anjali: Very honest hub, its appreciated. My s/o, Phil and I were discussing a while back how some people think rejecting money somehow means they are more spiritual. Money is needed on this planet, to be comfortable, to have freedom to do the things we want, often to help others. I felt a sadness reading about the children who don't have anything; I usually contribute toys, but because of your hub, I am reminded to do this again this year.

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 8 years ago

      Great article on a topic I have always questioned. Whoever said money can't buy happiness had a surplus of it. They need to experience the other end of that spectrum you have elaberated on...

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 8 years ago

      "The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing."

      -- John Berger


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