Trey Colley blog

Money Can’t Buy Happiness – the Lie You Shouldn’t Believe

A popular adage that’s thrown about a lot – particularly by those in a position to judge, a.k.a. the rich – the saying ‘money can’t buy happiness’ is, at best, reductionist, and at worst a downright lie.

While, yes, you may not be able to exchange your dollar bills for happiness directly, money has a huge influence on how happy we are – from reducing stress, to enabling us to do the things that do make us happy.

Here are four reasons why ‘money can’t buy happiness’ isn’t true.

Money = less stress.

In studies conducted over multiple years by the American Psychological Association, money was found to be the top cause of stress for people living in the U.S. Likewise, money-related problems are cited as the main trigger for divorce.

Countless people across the country have to keep a close eye on money in order to make sure they can attend to their most basic needs: feeding themselves, ensuring there’s a roof over their head and avoiding crippling debt.

In other words, they’re worried about surviving – a dent in anyone’s plan to live as happy a life as possible.

While money can’t solve every problem you have, it can eliminate the anxiety associated with barely making ends meet, since you know that anything life throws at you, you can at least deal with financially.

You can afford to do other things.

A plethora of research has shown that hobbies improve mental health, helping to decrease stress, increase dopamine in the brain and even reduce anxiety and depression.

And, the more money you have, the more hobbies you have access to: including activities that provide natural highs such as water sports, or paragliding, which are out of the question for those who are strapped for cash.

More than this, having money means that you can afford to take time off occasionally. So, if there’s a project you’re super passionate about, money buys you the time to work on it – you’re not forced to go to work 365 days a year just to stay afloat.

You can pay to take care of your health.

As well as allowing you to take better care of your physical health, having money provides many more opportunities for taking care of your mental health.

For example, you can afford to go to a therapist to work through unresolved issues that might be taking a toll on your psyche. Or, you could go to a chiropractor or a masseur to release the tension from your body, which simultaneously releases it from your mind.

Practicing self care is vital to our happiness, and it’s significantly easier to do so when you have the funds to back yourself up.

You can travel more.

Research conducted by Washington State University found that people who travelled several times a year were – on average – 7% happier than people who didn’t.

Unfortunately, for those without a significant amount of disposable income, travelling more than once a year – or even at all – is out of the question, as many Americans struggle to cope with the costs of their most basic needs.

Then why do people say it?

There are a couple of reasons why someone might say ‘money can’t buy you happiness’ if you express to them your ambitions to become rich.

For one, if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t have a lot of money, they may be saying it to discourage you from following a path that could put you in a better position than them financially – even if they’re doing this subconsciously.

Or, if the person telling you that money can’t buy happiness actually has money, they may have a couple of motivations.

Unfortunately, many – though not all – people with wealth don’t necessarily want you to get rich.

In their eyes, the fewer at the top the better, so their success and riches look even more impressive by comparison and they don’t have to worry about new competition.

Let’s also remember that there are countless factors that can contribute to a person’s unhappiness (not just a lack of money) and that the lives of the rich can also be a mess, filled with personal or work problems that can similarly make them miserable.

In these cases, of course money can’t buy happiness – because the source of their unhappiness is completely unrelated to their wealth.

However, what these people neglect to consider is that, because they have money, it’s one less thing they have to feel stressed and unhappy about, and that for some people, money would solve literally all of their problems.

More Adventures