Does Money Bring Happiness? A Reflection On Mental Well-being

money gives happiness

Of all the things we believe make us happy, money has always played an important role in our lives in society. And to understand why, we must start from the fact that we currently live in the so-called “welfare state.” This has to do with the economic development of countries, but… Is it really true that money brings happiness?

The relationship between money and happiness

A system born from social, economic and political struggles that provides all people with the services they need (or not) to live with an acceptable degree of well-being, that is, to be basically well.

The state educates us, takes care of basic care, provides us with transportation, gives us housing, but… What drives this complex capitalist system? First, the expectation that everyone will give something back through work, and second, obviously, money.

The welfare state gives us what to live with, but it does not tell us how to do it, and That traps us in an involuntary contract that we did not ask for. It is for this same reason that many people do things for money and they don’t even know why; We live in the society of success, in which you must “be someone” or “do things” to correspond to the utility expected by the welfare state.

The nature of success

Is there only one type of success in this life? There are those who believe or feel that happiness is related only to money and material goods. And it is logical to think about it, money is the necessary means to satisfy human material needs such as eating, sleeping under a roof or having access to health. The problem is that the welfare society has made everything depend on the economy, including the happiness of its citizens, without realizing that true success is being happy and that our currency is a smile.

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Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that we all have the right to a standard of living adequate for our health and well-being. But as we see in the world, we are still far from this being the case.

Can you imagine not having the necessary resources for your happiness? Poverty cannot be reduced to a simple economic issue but should be considered as a structural, dynamic and multifactorial phenomenon that also encompasses factors such as education, health, or housing.

For this reason, poverty causes a decline in cognition, and if sustained can permanently damage the brain in the long term. And who hasn’t ever felt anxious about money? When we don’t have enough in our wallet, all our body’s alarms go off to deal with imminent resource management. In the words of Martin Seligman in the Redes program, “below the minimum necessary, wealth is very important; That is, poverty negatively affects the level of happiness.”

The other side of the coin is the “perfect” citizen who contributes something to the state through work. But that, as is now evident, also “takes its toll”: in Japan it is considered normal to stay longer at work and, even if it is just taking a “snooze” on the subway on the way home, that has led this society to lead much of the technology industry at the cost of an unsustainable pace of life.

Work and psychological well-being

Have you heard of Karoshi (過労死)? It is a Japanese word that means “death due to overwork”, and is used to describe a social phenomenon in the work environment that has existed for several decades in the Japanese country, which consists of an increase in the mortality rate due to complications due to to excessive working hours, especially strokes and heart attacks.

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Working too much, then, leads to a decline in mental health, and the main reason is that it leaves us less time for taking care of ourselves. The Easterlin paradox already challenged the belief that having more money is equivalent to having more happiness. But it is in the most recent studies where the reality of the matter can be seen: the more money, the more memory of happiness, but from approximately 75,000 dollars – annually – instant happiness would no longer increase.

To continue earning more money, life becomes complicated, since one must do and think so many things at the same time that this itself generates unhappiness. So yes, we have more material wealth, but the possibilities of happiness decrease, “we have more things but we have less and less time for what really makes us happy: friends, family, recreation.”

What we get clear from all this is that you cannot be (as) happy if your basic needs are not satisfied, and although happiness increases equally with money, there is a maximum point at which, no matter how much money you have, happiness will no longer increase.

In short, money is an important element in our society, which can cause happiness and unhappiness simultaneously. When you ask people “Does money make you happy?” There is a fairly clear perception on this topic: the most repeated answer is “no, but it helps.”


Money gives happiness if we use it as what it is, a tool, but it takes it away from us if that is the objective. All in all, I want to make one thing clear: money does not eat us, it does not put a band-aid on us, nor does it protect us from the rain. The important thing is to have food, that someone cares about us, and to have a roof over our heads.

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The welfare society, and with it money, gives us everything to be well, but it does not provide us with happiness. Our happiness depends more on what we do with the money we have than on how much we have.