Friday 5 October 2012

Money Can Buy Happiness – Part 2: The How?

Yuvraj Singh returned to International Cricket after recovering from a very serious illness called cancer. Everyone is talking about it, about his guts and determination, about his “never say die” attitude. True, very true. Nothing can take away what he has faced in his life and how he has been a fighter in the difficult situation that he faced.

I want to think of a different perspective about the same situation. Let us think of Ramu, the daily labourer. He is not well, goes to the doctor, does a few tests and is diagnosed with cancer. I have my doubts, thinking realistically, that Ramu can go to the USA to get the treatment for cancer.

Of course, I argued with myself on this. Ramu could be helped by an NGO, or some rich person. He may get the treatment done in his own country, even if the facilities may not be the best. Where the facilities are available it may be very expensive to get that treatment.

Then I thought of the reality. That rich man cannot sponsor everyone. What does Ramu do? Who helps him? How many people like Ramu are there in our country? How many receive the funds to get the best treatment for cancer and get cured? I couldn't argue further. The truth is the truth. We cannot change it through emotional dialogues. Ask the person who lost her family member because she could not afford the medical treatment.

Money is an interesting commodity. People have different views on money. Some say money causes sorrow, some say it brings happiness. Is it a catch 22 situation?

Some people sacrifice so much in their lives to earn money. Love, relationships and personal life may be sacrificed. Then that person has a lot of money and doesn't have a “life”. However, he enjoys many moments where money gets him what he wants. He buys the car he wanted to buy for years, and he feels proud to own it. He feels happy to sit in that car, roll up the windows, switch on the air conditioner, put on the music he loves and goes for a long drive. Happiness can come from anything; it is your mind which defines from where and how.

The idealist will say that happiness is a state of mind. You don’t need money for it. I would perhaps say to the idealist, “money buys a product for me which creates that state of mind, and lack of money creates a different state of mind, that of sorrow, and therefore money gives me both emotions depending on the situation.”

Talking to my best friend also gives me happiness. Drinking a cup of tea gives me happiness as well. These experiences also create that state of mind. However, when I meet my friend I wear some clothes and shoes, I may meet him in a cafeteria or at my home. I need money to buy those clothes; I need money to buy the coffee or tea. To be able to buy these also gives me happiness. The state of mind is created.

Let us get back to Ramu. He needs treatment. Money can get him the treatment. He can get well. He will be happy, his family will be happy. If he is not cured, if he goes through pain and dies, sorrow takes over; it is a different state of mind. Doesn't money then buy happiness?

I would like to ask a question to everyone who thinks money does not buy happiness. “Why do you work for money? Why do you want more money? Would you survive without money?”

Think of a practical and logical answer. Money cannot buy life, but it can help make your life better. Better the life gets, the happier we are. Money can get the resources to save a life as well!

Does money influence our state of mind (and, therefore, happiness)?

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