Can Money Buy Us Happiness?

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The pursuit of happiness is sometimes easier said than done.
Some scientists have argued that happiness is largely determined by genetics, health and other factors mostly outside of our control. But recent research suggests people actually can take charge of their own happiness and boost it through certain practices.

"The billion-dollar question is, is it possible to become happier?" said psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside. "Despite the finding that happiness is partially genetically determined, and despite the finding that life situations have a smaller influence on our happiness than we think they do, we argue that still a large portion of happiness is in our power to change."

While people have many and varied goals that they pursue, there is an almost universal underlying goal to virtually all pursuits: the goal to be happy. “People who spend a lot of time making money generally do so because they believe that the money itself will make them happy, or will guard them against things that will make them unhappy.” (Scott, 2009) If the focus isn’t on the money, but on the jobs that bring the money, those jobs are generally thought to make people happy. People strive for that perfect relationship, the perfect house, the beautiful body, the approval of others, all in an attempt to be happy. Sometimes these things make us happy; other times, we stress over not having reached our goals, or we reach them and find that we’re still not happy. Other times, we focus so intensely on one goal that’s thought to bring happiness that we don’t have time for other things in our life that will make us truly happy. This can all be confusing, and begs the question: how does one reach the goal of being happy?

Different people have different opinions on what makes people happy. Some would say it's getting a raise. Others would say it's having a wonderful and meaningful life. There have even been quite a few who have more specific answers pertaining to their personal life.

All of these answers hit home, of course. While everyone has their own opinion, some universal things might be considered as what makes people happy.
Family and friends: One of the things that make people happy is the company of family and friends. The emotional support these people give you is priceless. You probably don't enjoy being smothered by your mother or your father, but attending family reunions or getting together for a barbecue once in a while pumps up your happiness level. Having people around you that you love, trust and care for makes you feel that you're not alone.

Giving back: Helping others, whether in small or big ways, uplifts a person's spirit like nothing else. Doing something for nothing might be completely opposite of what you have been taught, but acts of generosity always leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Sharing your wealth or time with others puts you in the position to receive the same positive energy back from others. Besides, making a difference in somebody else's life has a way of coming back to you.

Meaningful work: A job with a corresponding high salary isn't always what makes people happy. In fact, these jobs often make people miserable (unless your heart is in what you do). Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to pursue their dream job. And not everyone finds meaning in their work.

You could try to compensate for this by volunteering at hospitals or environmental causes in your spare time. By finding meaning in what you do, you will feel fulfilled and have a sense of purpose.

Freedom: It's impossible to become truly happy when you don't have even a small ounce of freedom in your life. Whether it's being able to express yourself creatively or being able to make a choice for yourself, personal freedom is important. Suppressing yourself only brings forth a lot of negative emotions and discontent.

Success: Who doesn't want to succeed? People who have achieved personal or...
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