Buy happiness? Oh yes, you can

Buy happiness? Oh yes, you can

Most of us spend our time trying to make more money - whether by chasing the next promotion or business deal, or devising a sure-fire investment strategy.

But one question I've pondered over the years, after writing countless articles advising readers on how to invest profitably, is that old chestnut of whether more money makes a person happier.

 

Certainly, some of the happiest moments in my life have not revolved around money.

Some have been simple experiences like doing taiji in East Coast Park early in the morning, with the gentle sea breeze caressing my face, or a spectacular sunset I saw once at Hangzhou's West Lake, as the sinking sun lit the water a golden glow.

It leads to another question: Why doesn't having a whole lot more money make us a whole lot happier?

In a thought-provoking article, three researchers - University of British Columbia's Elizabeth Dunn, Harvard University's Daniel Gilbert, and University of Virginia's Timothy Wilson - offer an explanation after spending decades studying the subject.

Their conclusion: "If money doesn't make you happy, you are probably not spending it right."

They note that people fail to realise that having more money allows them to live longer and healthier lives, buffer themselves against worry and harm, have more leisure time to spend with their friends and family as well as control the nature of their daily activities. These are sources of happiness which tend to be taken for granted.

But they make another observation worth highlighting: "Money is an opportunity for happiness, but it is an opportunity that people routinely squander because the things they think will make them happy often don't."

True, I know of people who never fail to flaunt their wealth at every possible opportunity, and show off their flashy cars and the posh condos they live in. But I wonder if they are truly happy, or if they have simply become slaves to their own material pursuits.

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