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Can money buy happiness? Why or why not?

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:01 AM via web

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Can money buy happiness? Why or why not?

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 16, 2010 at 3:46 PM (Answer #23)

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Of course it all depends upon which level of happiness one is speaking of when asking if money can buy happiness. On the most basic levels, money most definitiely can buy happiness. It is genuine happiness to be able to provide medical help for your children. It is quite decidedly happiness to pay rent or mortgage to have a roof over your head and your children's heads. It is indisputably happiness to buy wholesome and adequate food to serve your family and yourself and your beloved four-footed furry friends. It is most certainly happiness to have money for some form of transportation, be it public transit or private automobile, that allows the escape from walking 1 or 2 miles carrying supplies for familiy meals for a day or two. Money can and does buy happiness.

The problem is that when our happiness is met at one level, our desires and definitions of happiness continue in an accretion process, growing ever larger and more complex, and soon the capacity of money to provide is outstripped by the nature of our dreams of happiness: money can't buy happiness in the abstract but it most definitely can buy happiness in the concrete on the first several most fundamental and necessary levels, including an education and accoutraments for securing a well paying job. And it is hard if not impossible to find the love of one's life without money with which to make one's self look respectable and presentable. Money most decidedly can and does buy happiness.

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robyn-bird96 | Student, College Freshman | Salutatorian

Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:49 PM (Answer #29)

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Here are some statistics that will make you think about whether money can buy happiness.  According to Forbes, all you need to be happy is an income of $50,000 (2012).  Apparently, scientists have found that "Respondents to the poll who made more than $50,000 were more satisfied with their lives concerning factors ranging from friends, to health, to how they spent their time."  

However, you also have to consider where you live.  Those that live in places like New York City or other places with high living costs may have a higher "golden number," than places with lower costs of living.

Sources:

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 6, 2014 at 6:55 AM (Answer #43)

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Looking back over my life, I think there have only been moments when I felt "happy," whatever "happy" is. This happiness may have sometimes had something to do with getting hold of some money, but the money itself never bought much happiness, although it bought comfort and security and a very few possessions that were satisfying to own. Schopenhauer, my favorite philosopher, says that happiness is an illusion, or "chimerical." He believed that what was of primary importance in life was the avoidance of pain. Bernie Madoff is a good example of a man who thought money could buy happiness. Instead it bought him a lot of unhappiness. Pip, the hero of Great Expectations, believed that money could buy him happiness by getting him into higher society and enabling him to marry Estella, a girl who had been specifically trained to make men unhappy. Miss Havisham in Dickens' great novel had a lot of money but it certainly didn't buy her happiness.

Here is a pertinent quote from Schopenhauer:

Accordingly, if the characteristic feature of the first half of life is an unsatisfied longing for happiness, that of the second is a dread of misfortune. For with it there has more or less clearly dawned on us the knowledge that all happiness is chimerical, whereas all suffering is real. Therefore we, or at any rate the more prudent among us, now aspire to mere painlessness and an undisturbed state rather than to pleasure. When in my young days there was a ring at the door, I was pleased, for I thought, “now it might come”; but in later years on the same occasion my feelings were rather akin to dread and I thought “here it comes”
                     Schopenhauer, “On the Different Periods of Life”

All suffering is certainly real. I am reminded of Buddha's Four Noble Truths, the first of which is: "All lives, from birth to death, are filled with suffering." The Second Noble Truth is: "This suffering is caused by a craving for worldly things."

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:19 AM (Answer #2)

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Money can only buy things; it's up to you to decide if things will make you happy.  Lots of things that we "want" turn out to be disappointments ... baggage that doesn't satisfy us (past the few initial moments of possession). 

On the other hand, there are some things that money does/can buy that are necessities for life ... food, clothing, lodging, the absence of which makes happiness much harder to acquire (although people can do it).

I often think of Thoreau's "Simplify! Simplify!" and think that in our possession crazed world, it's advice that we could all benefit from.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:28 AM (Answer #3)

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Some of my unhappiest times seem to have been when I was most financially secure, so money isn't a guarantee for happiness. As the previous poster noted, money buys things. If you buy things that make you happy, then money can indeed help out. But love and friendship really don't relate to money, and they are two things that most make people happy.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:47 AM (Answer #4)

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Of course money can't buy happiness, but it sure beats not having money, in my opinion.

I have had a nice stable life, married since I was 20 (reaching our 20th anniversary in June).  We've been together when we had no money and now when we do have money.  I guarantee you I'm happier with.

Money buys security.  Security buys not having to worry about the future.  I feel much better on a day to day basis now than I did when my wife and I wondered if we'd ever be able to have a house or be able to afford having kids, etc.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:53 AM (Answer #5)

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Happiness is so undefinable it's difficult to even rationally discuss it.  And I don't believe there is a yes or no answer to this question.  Whatever happiness is, it is in large part due to a person's personality.  But can a person be happy when he/she is starving or freezing?  Maybe one in a million with a view to something larger. 

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted March 30, 2010 at 3:20 PM (Answer #6)

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I've been poor and miserable, I've been rich and miserable. Rich and miserable is better.

Burt Reynolds (attrib)

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted March 31, 2010 at 4:08 AM (Answer #7)

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No money cannot buy happiness, just as we cannot buy the feeling of satisfaction we get from eating when hungry. But we can definitely by food that will satisfy your hunger. Similarly we can definitely buy thing that provide us with means to bring happiness in our lives.

The happiness is not determined completely by the amount of such products we buy or get from any other means. Another important ingredients of happiness is our own conduct and attitude towards life.

The Happiness of a person who is dying of hunger because he has no money to buy food, can perhaps be substantially increased by providing him with money. But as we have more and more of such products, our dependence on them for increasing happiness further decreases. As a matter of fact those products may cease to hold much attraction once our basic needs are meant. In such condition the true happiness comes from internal feeling of being worthy and having becoming what we are capable of becoming. Then happiness is more related to what we are rather than what we have.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 3, 2010 at 7:38 AM (Answer #8)

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Money can certainly make life more comfortable, but happiness is such a subjective issue, I don’t think we can realistically say that money can buy happiness. True happiness seems to be found within one’s own self--our personal philosophy, our own self identity, our feelings of success. While money can enhance these elements it cannot provide them.

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subrataray | High School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted April 3, 2010 at 10:11 AM (Answer #9)

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Money and happiness are the opposite poles of life .The value of money lies in maintaining livelyhood .But if one is possessed with the idea of hoarding money , and he runs after to that end , he would certainly be unhappy .Again happiness comes from mental peace , and peace springs from silplicity of life and control of cravings .Once again the more a man gets himself purified , the more he becomes happy .More over , through suffering man grows wise .Poverty has always proved to be the source of happiness .It helps to enhance the soul .The last but not the least is that , happiness is one's own choice of life .Hencs it is proportionate to the laws of causitility .

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ajw88 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 4, 2010 at 6:53 PM (Answer #10)

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Happiness is something that you can’t put a monetary value on. People get happiness from things that are constant or complete their lives like families and being passionate about living life.

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:33 PM (Answer #11)

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@ask996 ... good answer.

We live in the 'pursuit of happiness'. Nothing guarantees the right to be happy. It is not 'written in the stars'. You might be born disabled or stupid or jealous or just plain boring.

Happiness is not something that evolution cares about. So it is not something that has been refined.

We pursue happiness as best we can.

In the mean time, money can provide security. And security is very desirable.

It is a sad sad sad truth... money provides its owner with many desirable things. Not happiness neccessarily, but power, influence, security, popularity, kudos, etc.

As a very cool rockstar once said, when asked by a TV host, "what is the difference between Laid Back and Boring?"

He said, quite rightly, "about one million dollars"

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 6, 2010 at 9:39 AM (Answer #12)

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I really can't answer this question because I've never had enough money to buy myself any happiness. I sure would like to give it a try! Seriously, I think the stress of not having enough money can cause a lot of unhappiness, but I'm not sure it works the other way around.

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treedreamer | eNoter

Posted April 6, 2010 at 4:42 PM (Answer #13)

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It would depend on the definition of happiness I suppose. Being financially secure is better than struggling but it would depend on how you make your money too. If you make a good income but your job is unpleasant or unethical then this could lead to a great deal of unhappiness possibly. Money sure can make you happy in the short term - fuel the ego and so forth but it is generally those with money who really ask this question. The luxury of affluence! I find it very interesting that in our society, with all the things we have and the things we can get, that many people seem quite unhappy. We have a very high rate of depression and mental illness. Certainly the haves and have nots are seperated and force class divisions which could be highly limiting to a varied and happy life.

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nusratfarah | Valedictorian

Posted April 20, 2010 at 8:13 AM (Answer #14)

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Not always money can bring happiness. Everything in human life can not be bought by cash. I'll share a personal experience as evidence. This weekend, the daughter of one of my familiars was willing to go for outing, somewhere remote; and he knew that he doesn't have enough money this week and can not afford it this week. Do you think his daughter's happiness would be buried because of this? Not at all.

What the parents did was that they ordered for pizza that weekend, spent all the evening with the child, watched her favourite cartoons and programmes sitting along with her till the night, and most importantly, both the mother and the father spent that night by watching movies and gossiping. At that night, the adults were no more adults, they became children. Whereas on the other days they can't manage time adequately for their child, so, they wanted to make the holiday special somehow. And they did it even though they didn't have enough money to go for outing. However, when I met the child recently, I asked whether how she passed her weekend, and I was amazed to hear that she considers this weekend the most enjoyable weekend in her life. The child's joyful, innocent smile clearly expressed that what she said was very true. And, as you can see, money was not essential for the happiness.

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ct-bio | eNoter

Posted April 20, 2010 at 8:33 AM (Answer #15)

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Sometimes money can buy happiness.  Sometimes happiness can be acquired without money.  Maybe the question should be:  Should we pursue money to achieve happiness?  Perhaps, the question should be: Should we pursue happiness independently of money?

In the old days, they would indicate that one should find something that one likes to do (happiness?) that also allows one to earn a living (to live?).

Example:  A boy sees a man working hard in making a carving, and the boy comments, "I'd never work so hard for my living!"  The man's reply, "I've never worked a day in may life."

 

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whaney | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 11, 2010 at 12:46 PM (Answer #16)

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Values, and power of language, and how the two interact are at the heart of this question. To most of the founders of the U.S. words like 'happiness' implied at least the possibility of wealth. Yet to them, and to people long and after them, wealth was often a means to an end. For example, I might say one of my greatest values is my family. But if I ponder that, unpack it, analyze why I value my family so, I might realize that 'family' includes regular family gatherings at our grandparents 80-acre farm, and family vacations, and our annual holiday dinners. None of those would be possible, at least in the way we've experienced them, without a certain amount of cash. Can money buy happiness? It's impossible to avoid it in our society, so the question really becomes 'how can I make a distinction between money itself and the things I value that it may help me achieve?' Achieving what I believe I am meant to creates joy and contentment. That may or may not require a lot of money, but it sure saves a great deal of headache and heartache to know the difference.

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kim-c | Student, College Freshman | eNoter

Posted May 14, 2010 at 1:29 AM (Answer #17)

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People go over the top with money. Even though it can buy heaps of things, there's still a lot of things that money can't buy. People think that money is what keeps them happy, but you hear it on lottery stories all the time. The winner ends up spending like crazy and in the end has gotten even worse than before their lottery win. People end up doing jobs they hate, just for the sake of the money, working unbelievable hours and doing something they have no interest in.

For me, money can't buy happiness, unless you've been living really rough. The most important thing is your health because you only have one life to live...

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 15, 2010 at 2:08 AM (Answer #18)

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Money can buy comfort and various kinds of security, but it cannot buy happiness. In fact, it seems that "happiness" can't even be defined, much less purchased. One argument I've read suggests that happiness is achieved only as a by product, not as an end in itself. This makes sense to me. The truly happy people I've known have been those who were engaged in meaningful work, paid or unpaid. These people were so busy living their lives in pursuit of something larger than themselves that they had no time to wonder, "Am I happy?" They just were.

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usbummer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 22, 2010 at 10:38 AM (Answer #19)

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Money cannot buy happiness, but then again, neither can poverty. Money can buy options which can make you happy, but that depends on what is in your head, not your bank account.

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xlaurenbx | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted May 27, 2010 at 1:50 AM (Answer #20)

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I think that it can buy you happiness for a short time but it never makes you fully happy.....But it depend son the person really because there could be a really shallow person that does not care about anything other than money and so might think that money always buys them happiness...for me though it makes you happy that you've baught what you want but not really happy about anything else and it doesn't last forever does it....

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ourlittlesecret | Student | eNoter

Posted May 27, 2010 at 1:53 AM (Answer #21)

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If You Have An Xbox. Laptop. Nintendo .. Your Happy. all this has been nought with money. But you cant buy love, and emotions. A man only needs so much money to make him ahppy. the rest is just greeed.

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dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted May 28, 2010 at 7:24 AM (Answer #22)

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No, money can not buy hapiness. I know some very wealthy people and they are miserable because they are lonely, have no true friends, and their family has left them. As humans, we crave companionship, love, and belonging. Family and friends help to give us a sense of identity, a sense of worth, a purpose in life. Loneliness is consuming, depressive, and makes one bitter. Money can fill your belly and keep you dry when it rains, but can not fill the void in your heart. 

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Jyotsana | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:37 AM (Answer #24)

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Money can't buy happiness. There are people who does not have lot of people and they are happy being with their family. Money can buy things but cant buy happiness. You can't buy love but you have to make love from your own heart. You can make friends with your heart and can also to enjoy and be happy with your friends.

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted April 29, 2014 at 12:44 AM (Answer #25)

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Money can essentially only but items, but not necessarily happiness. Imagine if you are a billionaire, one of the most renown person in the entire world, but all alone with no one to share your happiness with. Is the billion dollars really going to help you or really going to provide the same amount of happiness you can find with family. Even without family, happiness can't be bought, it has to be found within. 

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acompanioninthetardis | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted May 28, 2014 at 2:03 AM (Answer #26)

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Well here's the thing, it depends on what kind of happiness you are looking for. If happiness for you is clothes shoes, etc.. then yes, if for you it is true love friendship, etc.. then not all the time. But money can help you help out your friends who may help you out in a time of need, so it can create friends...not sure about the love part though. for me, in my opinion, money can definitely buy happiness. 

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clyoon | Student, Grade 12 | Honors

Posted May 28, 2014 at 5:55 PM (Answer #27)

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I believe the answer depends on the individual. First, happiness must be defined for the person. Is happiness love and family? Or is it the ability to buy luxuries? Is it fame and attention?

Once happiness has been defined, then you can say whether money buys happiness or not.

If happiness is love and family, then money does not buy happiness obviously because money can't buy you love. What gets love is ultimately your character, your own love for people, your idiosyncrasies, and your relationships with people. If you pursue love and family with money, then the people will love your money, not you. Thus, money does not buy you love. Money buys money love.

If happiness is the ability to have luxuries, then yes money will buy you happiness because money will buy the materialistic items. Pretty simple.

The more important question, I believe, is what is happiness? 

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cindergirl | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:14 PM (Answer #28)

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If this is for an essay, I think all of these answers are good, but your answer is going to be the best. Not only is it your point of view, examples that you would add to support whichever thought you have would have to be personal examples. That makes the point stronger, when you add a real life connection to support yes or no.

So what do you think? Does happiness come from cold hard cash? Give two strong, on topic as well as creative examples to support it.

For example: To support the notion that money doesn't make people happy, I would write something along the lines of "Cherishing family is an important part of life, but that's not the case in some houses. Despite the luxurious goods we own, I would trade it all to spend time with my parents who are always working." Of course, this is first-person narrative so if you were to write an expository you would have to take out the personal pronouns 'I', 'we', etc. But these 2 sentences establishes the thought that you would trade money for happiness.

Good luck!

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Wiggin42 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted May 28, 2014 at 8:05 PM (Answer #30)

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Materialism will only bring unhappiness. For happiness humans need to have their spiritual and emotional needs met. These needs can only be met through love and positive interaction between others. Money can satisfy immediate materialistic wants but can never meet human needs for friendship, love, and companionship. Money can make life easier, but an easy life isn't necessarily a happy life. 

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rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | Valedictorian

Posted May 30, 2014 at 11:09 PM (Answer #31)

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Yes, but only to a certain extent. Money can only buy you material goods and that isn't all you need to make you happy. Sure, buying new things is nice and it does make you happy, but it can never make you fully happy. People need things like love, friendship, personal goals, and interests, which can't be bought with money. A statistic that my teacher told us is that if you have a salary above $70,000 it stops making a difference for how it makes you feel. Even the richest people can be unhappy.

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laurto | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted May 31, 2014 at 4:29 PM (Answer #32)

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In most cases, money can make you happy, but everyone can feel unhappy, no matter who they are or how much money they have. I feel that money buys happiness when the person/ people who have it are not used to having it and can buy the things that they've been wishing to buy for a really long time. 

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thewanderlust878 | Student, Grade 12 | Honors

Posted May 31, 2014 at 5:37 PM (Answer #33)

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I believe that to an extent money can buy happiness. Whille most people believe that happiness should not/can not be made by happiness, it is entirely possible to find happiness is money/material items. It might sound materialistic and vain, but it is reality; how many people do you know that have no money or not a lot of items that are entirely happy with themselves? In today's society it is nearly impossible to be happy without money. 

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted May 31, 2014 at 6:14 PM (Answer #34)

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Money can't buy you happiness in my opinion, you can be a millionaire with a giant mansion spanning a mile and be all alone in the house. What's the point then? Whats the point if you don't have someone to sit with for 5 minutes. You have like a middle class family but always have family time and be the happiest people on the earth but you can be a kid who gets the best clothes and best new stuff and living a life of luxury, but if your parents don't spend enough time with you is it worth it? No. Family and love matters more than money in my opinion

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mchandrea | Student, College Junior | Salutatorian

Posted June 26, 2014 at 2:43 AM (Answer #35)

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There is a quote I read online, I forgot who said it but it really struck me so it sort of just got stuck in my head. 

"Some people are so poor, all they have is money."

Depending on what kind of happiness you seek, money may or may not be able to buy you happiness. Would you like happiness that lasts for 5 minutes? A couple of hours? A month? Five years? Or a whole lifetime? If you are a very materialistic person, then yes, money can buy you happiness, one that lasts about half a day. For example, buying a car would make you really happy. Something like a dream come true, maybe. But after a few years when you want a new car, you wont be happy with the one you have bought. You can also live in a gigantic house all to yourself with the most spectacular furniture and lavish designs but would you be happy living there alone? Won't you feel empty inside?

Happiness that lasts a lifetime can never be bought by money, or fame or anything like that. I think happiness that lasts only comes from love, companionship, friendship. And these are things money cant buy.

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ik9744 | Student, Grade 9 | Valedictorian

Posted July 21, 2014 at 5:22 PM (Answer #36)

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Depends, since you use money to buy things. But the answer depends on if the things.you buy make you happy.

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jess1999 | Student, Grade 9 | Valedictorian

Posted July 22, 2014 at 2:25 PM (Answer #37)

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For me money is only able to buy partial happiness . For example there are probably things that each one of us wanted in our life before . When you are able to buy it , at first you'll feel happy but sooner or later you'll get bored of it .

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arrellbelle | Student, College Sophomore | Valedictorian

Posted July 26, 2014 at 7:02 PM (Answer #38)

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Money can't be able to buy all the happiness in the world, but it can be able to buy a portion of happiness for some people. For example, what makes a person happy anyways? For children, toys or candy makes them happy. For a teenager, video games or arcades make them happy. For an adult, it is to settle down or travel abroad. Money can only buy what can be physically bought. For each person, there are different things that can make them happy.

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atyourservice | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted July 30, 2014 at 6:20 AM (Answer #39)

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I personally believe that money can buy happiness but not all happiness can be bought by money. In today's society I believe it is unrealistic to say that money can't buy happiness, because lets be honest, money is everything in the capitalist world of the usa (also many other parts of the world), without money a person is as good as done. There are very low chances of surviving in this world without money. Money is able to buy a good life which in turn can lead to happiness. 

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udonbutterfly | Student, College Freshman | Valedictorian

Posted August 15, 2014 at 6:48 AM (Answer #40)

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To an extent it does. Money buys a secure future. With money people are able to acquire better education and thus better jobs. Those with money do not have to worry about living from pay check to pay check and whether a bill is not going to get paid or not. With so much on the mind stress begins to build to a point where many want to explode because they just do not know where the money is going to come from as opposed of those who have money can simply pay without worrying where the money is going to come from.

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nishu2766 | High School Teacher | Honors

Posted August 18, 2014 at 11:20 AM (Answer #41)

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Happiness is something that is felt..It is a feeling and it cannot be bought with money.... For example say a person is very rich but has cancer or is going to lose one of his body parts and that person is ready to pay any amount of money to save himself but the doctor says its impossible for him to survive..How will he be happy even after having so much money..? Another example is that if a person is depressed because of family problem and has no peace in his mind how can that money bring him happiness ..Wat he needs to make him happy is some support and his problems to vanish..I hope whoever is reading this understands my point

 A helping hand to those in need to lead a happy life brings joy to both parties

In the area of community service voluntary work at old folks home..Hospices as well as rural schools adds to real happiness

It makes you realize we are all members of a larger community regardless of race language or religion

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ik9744 | Student, Grade 9 | Valedictorian

Posted September 2, 2014 at 1:20 AM (Answer #42)

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The answer is, Yes and No. Money can buy happiness for a short amount of time,  an example is if you buy a video game which makes you happy won't last forever. Someone you'll get bored of it.

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