The Beatles said money can’t buy love, but can it buy you happiness? We have all seen enough miserable celebrities with lots of the paper stuff who seem doomed to miserable, even tragic lives to know that having wealth is no guarantee you will be happy. Think Amy Winehouse, Howard Hughes or Princess Diana.
The most contented rich folk seem to be those with a sense of purpose, who love what they do. Maybe it just happens to make them money. I am thinking off the top of my head now: Richard Branson, J K Rowling, Paul Newman. All have (or have had in the case of Paul Newman, who died in 2008) wealth and success but also a social conscience. They also all seem to have good family relationships. Paul Newman was married to wife Joanne for 50 years. All are considered philanthropists.
Equally there are many people of limited means who have wonderful happy and fulfilled lives, but I doubt the same can be said of someone living in grinding poverty, who is working for pennies on a tea farm in India and sleeping on the floor of a shack with no clean water or decent sanitation.
We don’t need to be hugely wealthy to be happy but we do need to have our basics covered to stand a chance. Somewhere decent and warm to live, enough to eat, clean water, access to medicines. After that I would say we need something useful to do, people to love and love us back, the opportunity to have education and to learn.
In this country and much of the western world most of us have all we need in material terms, so why do we seem so miserable? Is it because we want more? We are certainly prepared to get ourselves into debt to have a new car, fantastic foreign holidays, designer fashions and the biggest home we can manage. We can then appear to have the perfect life whilst losing sleep over the mortgage payments and credit card bills.
I would love to have more money. £10,000 would be enough to sort out a few things around the house and install a new kitchen. Another £10k would buy me the camper van I am dreaming of. It would be nice to have a pay rise to make things a bit easier every month. However, it doesn’t make me unhappy that I am where I am. I look at the people who live in slum areas in places like India and I am so grateful that I have a house, a job, enough to eat, NHS medical care at the end of the phone, a lovely partner and children who have been to good schools and are all employed. I don’t have much left at the end of each month but I don’t hanker for a bank account the size of J K Rowling’s. In fact,I would need to do the same as she did and give half of it away! She no doubt recognises that once you have enough plus a bit more on top to have fun with that is all you need – any more on top doesn’t bring you more happiness, it just means you have to spend more on accountants!
What’s your view? Can money buy you happiness?