Happiness (2/3): Where to Invest Your Dollars in Happiness

Apr 22, 2013
Everybody likes to see a meaty Return On their Investment. Ever thought about your ROI with your happiness?

Everybody likes to see a meaty Return On their Investment. Ever thought about your ROI with your happiness?


This is part 2 of a 3 part series:

Happiness (1/3): What to Understand and How to Take Control

Happiness (3/3): Why We Get Bored and What To Do About It


Big money, big happiness, right? Not necessarily.


Basic Needs

The idea that being rich makes you happier is true, but what about in reality? Let’s take a closer look. The degree of happiness, when considering a financial influence, is dictated by circumstance.

For a person living below the poverty line, their financial situation might not be able to afford them basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. If these basic needs are not being met, happiness suffers greatly.

But what about after your basic needs are realized?

It has been proven than those who earned a decent salary (financially comfortable) where only marginally less happy than those who were regarded as financially well-off.

The degree of happiness does not increase with the size of the bank balance, in fact a lot of extremely rich people have been found to be deeply unhappy for various reasons.


Deceiving Dollars

People are often surprised that when they reach their financial goals, they aren’t as happy as they thought they would be. Why? Is the money cursed? No, of course not. Like most things, it’s how you use it.

In the end, it comes down to how we spend our money.


Return on Investment

Buying a lot of things won’t make us happy in the long run. Remember that toy you bought your son or niece for their third birthday? Their eyes lit up when they saw it in its novelty, but eventually the shine and interest fades. Has that ever happened to you with a personal purchase in your adult life?

So instead of buying things to acquire, own, or show off; try investing your dollars in a different way.


1) Contribute to your own personal growth. Learning a new language, skill, or trade will help you grow as a person. The satisfaction and joy you get out of it will outlast that of the newest iPhone. Invest in yourself.

2) Contribute to the world. Consider this study that was done with 4th, 5th and 6th grade students. Over four weeks, they were told to do at least three acts of kindness or charity per day. Most of these acts occurred at home and outside of the school. However, the kids showed a marked increase in happiness as well as popularity at school. The effect of the charitable acts had a positive impact on all facets of their lives. Invest in others.

3) Connect with others. Going on fancy holidays on your own is great but improving relationships will improve your happiness much more in the long run. Going for dinner with friends and spending time and money on those we care about will increase your level of happiness. Invest in your relationships.


Money might be able to buy happiness, but it cannot sustain it alone. By connecting with yourself and others on a deeper level, you will increase your own happiness along with those around you.



Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think about money and happiness.





  1. Hi Rishan, as always you have hit the nail on the head so to speak, but then I not only enjoy your blogs but learn from them as well. Please keep on teaching its great.

  2. Charles A Mbewe says:

    According to my understanding happiness depends on a number variables in one’s life. These include spiritual well being, materialism, and a positive outlook. If one has more of one variable to the exclusion of the others,an imbalance occurs which makes life meaningles and ultimately unhappiness sets in. So the onus is up to all of us to lead a balance life in order to experience true happiness.

    • Thanks for the comment Charles. I appreciate your feedback. Happiness may depend on a number on attributes however, it will largely depend on a person’s outlook in life – your attitude towards yourself and towards others.

  3. Surely this should be blindingly obvious to anyone who takes more than a microsecond to think about it. As is often said: “money can’t buy happiness … but it can buy a much better class of misery”. Like so much in life, once you have enough to meet the bare essentials of existence (I personally define “life” and “existence” as separate concepts), quantity becomes subservient to quality: if you have a lot of money but you are unhappy, money won’t change your state of mind – (and may make it worse if you feel that money is somehow a burden) but it might pay for you to find a way to effect positive change in your state of mind in order to become happy by using that money in a way that *will* make you happy.

    • I agree with you Ange. Money really can’t buy happiness but it does helps. You said that happiness depends on your state of mind and I couldn’t agree more on that. Happiness happens within us.

  4. Thank you for this post! I have spent a lot of my life being concerned about money – having it, not having it, inheriting it, keeping it, losing it. When I look back, I actually had much more than I have now. I am now starting to see that it is not about the paper – it is about living life to the full – and although my income is currently very very very low – I have the most wonderful meaningful loving relationships. I have more than enough to eat. I have two brilliant sons. We have excellent health, I am in a wonderful loving relationship Infinite gratitude is the most wonderful way to feel!
    Thank you again.

    • Thanks for sharing! I’m glad that you’re happy with your relationships and with your life. I also believe that gratitude is a key to happiness.

  5. Thank you for this article. I have always wondered whether poorer people hold the secret to happiness through their poverty. I.e. having less to worry about can bring a happiness of it’s own. Perhaps now I can make some money!. lol. x

  6. Alabamarjara says:

    Very Balanced view. Not much left to be added, in my opinion.

  7. Allene Swienckowski says:

    Very sober advice. I have always questioned “money is the root of all evil” especially in view of the fact that most religions require their congregations to tithe, even if it hurts.

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  9. Susan Fleming says:

    Thanks so much Rishan this really helps put things into perspective. I have much less money than I used to have and now with less, it makes the worrying grow even more it seems. When you have money, you don’t need to worry about it or paying bills etc…without it, life is harder and even when you want to donate to the causes you believe in it makes it hard in that area too.

  10. Thanks Allene, Wendy and Susan- I’m glad you appreciate that we try to find the most thorough research and make it easy to understand and use.

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