Money Can Buy Some Happiness…But Friends?

I am sitting in Lonavala as I write this…away from work, no cars or noise, a clear sky and cool weather…my mind has changed gears.

I am reading an article from a blog “youarenotsmart.com” that talks about the aphorisms “money can’t buy you happiness”, “money isn’t everything”, etc. The article uses data from multiple studies to show that while the lack of money does cause unhappiness, once basic needs such as housing, clothing, food and general necessities are taken care off, with a little extra available for occasional goodies and holidays, there is no more happiness to be gained by having more money. There is apparently a “financiohappiness” ceiling that needs to be reached to attain a certain basic level of happiness, beyond which, it’s all about other things.

The article quotes Henry David Thoreau, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to leave alone”. In the US, the average amount that someone needs to earn to make this happen seems to be around USD 75,000, which works out to approximately Rs. 3.25 lakhs per month. I presume that this number will be much less in India, probably a little more in Mumbai, perhaps a shade less in Pondicherry. This is another way of saying that if we can live within our means, we would tend to be happier, but provided we have crossed a certain critical level of “means” that can vary from society to society.

Assuming this logic makes sense, and you have reasonable money, are not living hand-to-mouth, can afford to be without a job for 3-6 months, have enough to get your children married off without a Bali wedding, then what else do you need?

Two weeks ago, a few of us friends from school landed up meeting in Dubai. We had drinks in a bar followed by dinner in another restaurant. It was great fun! Rajesh posted a summary to our group site the next morning, ending by quoting these starting lines from the Zanjeer song, “Yaari Hai Imaan”.

“Aa . . .Gar khuda mujse kahe . . . (2)

Kuchh maang eh bande mere

Me ye maangu . . (2)

Mehefilo ke daur yu chalte rahe

Ham pe aalao, ham nibaah laao

Hamsafar, hamraaz ho

Ta qayaamat. . . (2)

Jo chiraago ki tarha jalte rahe”

Meeting friends and spending time with them brings happiness…the older the friendship, the better. As I write this, I am waiting for one of my oldest friends from junior college to join me. We meet once or twice a year when he travels in or I travel out and those are moments that I treasure and remember.

The same is true of family. Growing up, I had very little time for the extended family. It is only when you have your own children and some grey hair that you realize the importance of comfort zones and the warm glow of being with people who take you for what you are.

There are, no doubt, many other ways to be rich and happy. But if more material possessions and money are of no use, then happiness and contentment have to come from non-materials like the pursuit of passions (your third thing or fourth thing!), cherishing solitude in those rare moments of possibility, the freedom to do absolutely nothing at all when we feel like and the ability to spend time with friends and family.

Have I missed anything?

Oh…and I hope each of you has a terrific 2012.

8 Comments

  • Matungawalla wrote:

    Whoever said “Money cannot buy you Happiness”.
    doesn’t know where to shop.

  • We may argue about the order of priority but you’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head in the last paragraph.
    One point that’s still not clear. Why do most of us, despite knowing this, seem to fail to understand it?

  • Dont you know what Marlyn Monroe said
    You can never be rich enough or slim enough.
    But like you said, a basic level of earning is required for peace of mind. Over that is sone pe suhaga

  • H.L. Chulani wrote:

    Family first, work (with passion) next, time and ability to spend moments with yourself and lastly old friends after ‘financiohappiness’.
    Have a great 2012 and keep up the good writing.

  • PREM MAHTANI wrote:

    To all those people to whom money dosent bring happiness are lieing,its better to cry in a merc than on a cycle.friends are good as long as it is not networking, these days relations are based on utitlity value for mutual benefit.
    happy new year n keep writing

  • I agree with the view…’while the lack of money does cause unhap­pi­ness, money alone can’t cause happiness!’ So true… those who don’t need more are the richest n happiest people!
    n since you brought up the topic of old friends, here’s a great quote by Oliver wedell holmes:

    There is no friend like the old friend,
    who has shared our morning days,
    No greeting like his welcome,
    no homage like his praise:
    Fame is the scentless sunflower, with gaudy crown of gold;
    But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.

    Happy new year!

  • Jayesh Tekchandaney wrote:

    It brings us back to the question – How Much is Enough ? http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150812287050257

  • I think you’ve missed out on money as a source of power, and while there’s a limit to the ‘happiness’ that money can provide via material possessions, there’s no limit to the human craving for the power that money can provide, i.e. you can never have enough! Then again, perhaps I’m just becoming cynical with age :o)

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