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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Monday, March 15, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook #27 - Can Money Buy Happiness?

New podcast is up! #4! Check it out if you haven't yet. So after doing an English worksheet about how strongly we agree or disagree with aphorisms, the one "can money buy happiness" came up. It took me a bit to think about this one and I was talking to Angie about this (see I mentioned you ; P) and I have come to the conclusion that I believe it can. I remember back in like the 5th grade we had a debate club and I was against Brandon Nixon and my topic was about should we continue to produce the penny or not lol. I didn’t really like my topic much but I remember another one was about if money can buy you happiness. I can't really remember the points my fellow 5th Graders made but I felt like this issue is long overdue at gaining coverage again.

First off it would be good to define exactly what happiness. A quick Google search will yield results such as "Happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy. A variety of philosophical, religious, psychological and biological approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources." Almost all people strive for happiness but it is a very eluding goal that can be approached with a variety of actions. Emotions are a very grey area because a lot of stimuli provided by our environment causes different reactions in the individuals who experience it. For instance, seeing Obama win the elections could have brought joy to those who supported him but McCain fans probably felt emotions very similar to disappointment and remorse. People react differently to almost everything that incites a response. What may cause happiness to one person may causing anger in another. Emotions are so hard to control because our reactions and feelings are ever changing but always present. You may be bored one moment but the next you have a sudden excited and having fun. Regardless of your constant acknowledgement of your emotions or not, you will always have some sort of feelings and they can be very hard to control.

There is a lot of stimulus that the world has in store each and every day. There are two main forms of stimulus that provoke emotional responses and they are concrete and abstract. Concrete refers to physical things such as material possessions and especially ones with high value. For some reason we love things that hold high value both in the eyes of society and our own personal perspective. The idea of a value is completely abstract but ranges from both abstract and concrete stimuli. This value is in almost every stimulus we experience but its magnitude varies from such a wide spectrum from the completely minute to having such a high value we'd be willing to sacrifice anything to ensure its protection of safety. With money it can be monetary value but with objects it can hold sentimental value or other things that will bring happiness to an individual who sees it as valuable. One of the most influential factors in our happiness that derives from abstract origins is our relationships and in particular, our relationships with those that we care about. Those we love whether it's parents, significant others, best friends and many others, these people who we hold at the utmost importance hold a very significant part in our emotional stability and one action, or remark and they can cause a shift in its balance. Acknowledgement also can play a unique role in your goal to achieving happiness by being given recognition for your deeds by others who you want to be recognized by. For instance, having people leave comments rate or subscribe for the work that I do in the podcast and blogs makes me very happy.
One of the major proponents of concrete stimuli is money as the title of this blog post entails. Money itself I don't believe causes happiness but the status it brings and the potential of what your expenditures can be bought with it once you have amassed a certain amount of funds. These expenditures can then provide stimulus that peaks your interests and in turn provides happiness. Whether you have a spare $60 to pick up the new call of duty game because you love action or buying new clothes because you like looking nice, the possibilities are endless for what you can do with your money and what you can in turn do to create happiness. While this has noticeable advantages it has been viewed as being short sighted because money can only provide short term happiness and only abstract methods can provide more permanent solutions to finding and keeping happiness. Eventually you're going to get sick of that videogame or be out of style and require more money to get the next installment of whatever the next fad is. It is a vicious cycle because you can never have enough money and this is a major factor of all the horrible events occurring today led by emotions of greed. Money is like an addicting drug in the fact that once you realize what you can do with money you will always crave more and more and in extreme cases, you'll be willing to do anything to get it. Especially during these tough economic times, people are having difficulty in finding money causing a sense of melancholy because people don't have the financial resources to provide for material things that provide them happiness. Money isn't always used for happiness and sometimes for necessities like shelter and food. For the most part however, we get too carried away with the desires that we have and feel like money is an easy fix for these troubles we are having.

In my opinion money doesn’t equal happiness. Money can bring happiness but it doesn’t always equate to it but you should realize that there are other options and methods in attaining happiness. There are definitely situations where money can bring happiness and you should definitely take advantage of it as a solution if you believe it will cause benefits to you that will outweigh the costs and effects of it, especially in respect to other emotions such a greed. There are also situations when abstract things such as relationships can exclusively provide happiness Sometimes there are even situations where a combination of both is necessary in order to make yourself and maybe even others happy. Happiness is a surprisingly contagious emotion and your actions can provide happiness in others through the use of abstract and concrete means. Whether you say "I love you" or buy a gift for someone else, there are many ways in order to incite feelings of happiness. There are many forms of gaining happiness and while it may seem like an ever elusive concept, there are many ways to find what makes you happy.

-Allan Nicholas

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