What makes us happy : a good word or gaining an amount of money ?What makes us happy : a good word or gaining an amount of money ?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no question that positive reinforcement is more important to human beings.  After all, what would children become if they were only given money for their achievements and good behavior?

It is a sad commentary on our materialistic society that people measure success and happiness by how much money someone makes. (Witness how our society elevates movie stars and professional athletes.)  Of course, we all like to earn money and win lotteries, etc., but the happiness that comes from these winnings in not of the money, per se, but of the opportunities that this money affords. Here is a quick example: If one has an ailing pet for whom one cannot afford an expensive procedure without depriving the family of things, he/she is elated if extra money comes, thus allowing the pet owner to buy the pet a better quality to its life. ( Of course, the happiness comes from having more good years with the beloved pet, not having received the money.)

In recent studies of big lottery winners, 8 of 10 winners said that they are no happier after having won thousands or millions.  Many stated that after they had bought new homes and moved from their old neighborhoods, friends drifted from them since there was less than they had in common, and also because their old friends were now uncomfortable around them.  Some of the winners who were interviewed even wished in hindsight that they had not won since they had lost old friends.

There is no question that the most valuable rewards in life are not things.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Indeed, the specific individual preference, as indicated in the previous post, holds a large determination on the answer to such a question.  There are individuals who gain a physical experience of happiness from the acquisition of money.  Throughout history, the people who have amassed an inordinate amount of money must have done so (and still do so) with some tangible experience of happiness in the process.  At the same time, there are individuals who experience happiness in the company of others or sharing moments with others.  I think that personal preference plays a large role in determining which one helps to make us happy.  One can only hope that it is not such a binary opposed choice, whereby individuals have to select one or the other and, to an extent, be able to experience both.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the formulas for hapiness is  amount of need + resource availability + immediate attainability= satisfaction.  Satisfaction + constant reward = happiness.

Now, take a close look at the part where it says "amount of need"- Like Epollock said, it depends on what your need is.

Maybe it is not money what you need, but self-assurance, self-esteem, direction, feedback, or self-worth. Those abstract things are nowhere near the category of goods, but services, hence maybe in this case, a nice hour of counseling would be more appreciated than an object.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For me, and I suspect for most people, both are necessary.

For example, when I answer questions here on eNotes, I am very happy when the person who asks the question contacts me and tells me that they liked my answer.  When they say "thank you" it is quite meaningful.

However, it is unlikely that I would spend very much time answering questions if I were not getting paid for it.  Money is important to me.  It can, of course, buy things.  In addition, making money helps to make me feel like I am contributing something to my family.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It depends on what is important to that individual. Some people would rather hear encouraging, uplifting words from others. On the other hand, monetary rewards may work best. Everyone is different and looks for different things in life. It basically depends on the person but I believe that good words mean more than money and do more good.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that both money and "a good word" are both important. Don't let anyone kid you that money is not important; it is much easier to deal with the everyday ordeals of life without having to deal with constant financial problems. However, there are few things that feel better than being "stroked" with a compliment.

christen14 | Student

a moral person would say a good word, a corupt one would say money.


mom110280 | Student

good work because i am just a nice shy person

ars | Student

i think if we will do what we like , whether it is the on professional front or the matter of our life . this world will not help us in our adversity.so stop thinking about others .you are the maker of your life . Do what you want . it is the simplest way 2 live happily.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Relative importance of money and a good word very much depends on the money an individual already has. A starving man with no money to buy bread would definitely definitely be more interested money than in good words. But once that person is well fed, clothed, and housed and has no anxiety about being deprived of these basic need of life, he or she will take interest in things like socialising with others. This person would then not mind skipping a meal if that becomes necessary to complete a task that will win for him approval and admiration of others.

nusratfarah | Student

It totally depends on the individual perspective and attitude towards life. Life needs to have both money and good words. Being blessed or endowed with some good words are as important as being rewarded or gifted with money in order to make life happy and valuable.

giorgiana1976 | Student

Researchers compared data collected from 1,000 people who spoke of their welfare. Then they watched as it was changed due to therapy, and compared the results with sudden increases of income, as is the case of a win at gambling.

Researchers found that a course of psychological therapy for 4 months has had a major impact on people's state of good.

They then showed that an increase in welfare from a course of 800 pounds was so big so that it must have been a gain of more than 25,000 pounds to gain an equivalent welfare. In other words, psychological therapy can be 32 times more efficient in making a happy person than simply obtaining a sum of money.

epollock | Student

It all depends on the individual. Some people are motivated by money and equate that with success. Some people are motivated by positive affirmations and value relationships. Some value both, and some value neither. It all depends on the specific individual.