Letter to the editor: Can we buy our way to happiness?

Sonora Roers

Money can’t buy you happiness, right? That’s correct. But the things you buy with money can make you happy, if you buy the right things. You have to be careful, though. It’s difficult to figure out what will really make you happy in the long run, that will satisfy more than just an immediate desire. Allow me to help you identify what is really worth your money.

Humans in general adapt to things quickly. If you buy something like a new vase, it is certainly nice for a bit, but you’ll quickly lose interest and it will not make you happy for long. “Things” are unimportant. What really matters are experiences. Buying tickets to the zoo, for example, will make you happier in the long run than buying a painting of a zoo. Going to the zoo is something you can do and talk about with others, and you’ll remember the details about that trip much longer than the feeling of buying a painting. Ultimately, humans are social creatures, and anything we can do with people as opposed to by ourselves will almost always make us happier.

Giving to other people, strange though it might seem, makes us happier than only buying for ourselves. That pleasure you feel when a friend loves the gift you gave them, and that feeling you get when you donate to charity just because you want to, those are both true feelings of happiness. When we only purchase things for ourselves, we don’t know what it is that we’re missing out on. Try it sometime, and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.

Consider all sides of a purchase before you make it. That huge poster might look really awesome now, but realistically, where are you going to put it? It’s large and bulky and will probably get in the way of something. Besides, it’s also better overall to buy small things more frequently instead of large, one-time purchases. If you’re going to spend the same amount of money anyway, it’s more fun and better for you to buy smaller things more often because you will experience that feeling of happiness from buying something you want more frequently than you would from buying that one large thing.

So in the end, keep in mind that whatever that item is that you really want, make sure you consider everything about it first. Who is it for? If it’s for me, can I make use of it with others? Can I actually do something with it or will it sit around more often than not? Will it be in my way or interfere with my daily life? And is it really worth buying this as opposed to other things? If you can answer all of these questions satisfactorily, then it’s probably a worthwhile purchase. But don’t just take my word for it — try it out, and you’ll surely find out for yourself whether it makes you happier. I’m sure it will.