International Day of Happiness: Does money make us happier? Here's what experts have to say

These days, money is a way to bring in fulfilling experiences. On International Day of Happiness we try to decipher whether it really is true 

Sapna SarfareUpdated: Sunday, March 20, 2022, 12:53 PM IST
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The term – Money cannot buy happiness – is now redefined. People now seek soulful happiness. And money is becoming their unlikely partner. Money can be a positive support in getting true fulfilment. One can surely do that if one knows the path.

The change 

People’s attitudes have changed from buying temporary happiness to financing meaningful experiences. Business and life coach Gaurav Bhagat, Founder of Gaurav Bhagat Academy, calls the pandemic an eye-opener. “Millions have quit their jobs in the last couple of years, for which we now have a term – ‘The Great Resignation’. People are no longer interested in the temporary pleasures of life. Instead, new roles have emerged, and more are interested in owning something of their own.”

 One can see thousands of Indian youngsters doing business from their homes via social media. Thanks to the financial security available, it is all about seeking things that provide a personal life. The ‘work-life balance’ has changed with prominence given to experiences over possessions. 

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Clinical Hypnotherapist & Metaphysical Speaker Barkha Prabhakar agrees and says, “Before 2020, we had multiple purchase options and led somewhat excessive lifestyles. However, the initial stages of the lockdown forced us to focus our financial expenses solely on essentials required for survival. It triggered a complete overhaul in identifying priorities.”

Its impact means taking stock to make better choices in everything. It includes the way we spend. A large chunk of society is now diverting funds on provisions like starting passion funds, travelling to must-visit places and investing in health. 

Shubha Vilas, a lifestyle coach, storyteller, author and spiritual seeker, recalls the Mahabharata. Here Arjun tells Yudhisthira that all things good and pious come from a mountain of wealth.

“Money is like a double-edged sword. Some know how to use the money for good and some use the same money to do bad things. Nothing in this world is good or bad. It is all about how it is utilised in the right way,” he says.

The only religion speaking about money is one of life’s goals is the Sanatan Dharma. “Dharma, arth, kama and moksha are mentioned as the Purusharthas or life goals. Arth or wealth has to be in connection with dharma. The idea of money has to be first acquired in the right way and secondly, spent in the right way,” reveals Vilas. 

Money = True fulfilment?

While money cannot buy fulfilling experiences directly, exploring ideas without financial backing is tough. Youngsters must look into making money work for them. They can go for fulfilling experiences only with a sense of security. The journey becomes easy with money. 

Money can be an inspiring factor that brings in many levels of happiness. But what is the level one should focus on? As mentioned earlier, arth or money aligned with dharma equals any enjoyment one wants in life.

“When money is spent for enjoyment that's purely personal gain, that selfish enjoyment is what the scriptures don’t recommend. While arth and dharma are to be together, Kama and moksha are together. The world has seen so many examples of arth and kama coming together and creating disasters,” narrates Vilas.

When people enjoy life with money’s aid, this act needs to be encouraged. It is supported by the scriptures. This enjoyment must guide the person's growth and others. “I always say a percentage should be used to facilitate other people’s enjoyment. When money is used in this way, it brings a lot of fulfilment inside,” Vilas adds.

True experiences

Bhagat has had some experiences. “Most of us have experienced a point of saturation. It chanced upon me early in my career. I took my initial savings and planned a month-long trip across Kerala. I met incredible people along the way, made friends, established business contacts, and returned to my regular life with tons of ideas. I couldn't have planned the trip without my money, and I don’t regret spending a month of my life on myself,” he shares.

Entrepreneur, motivational speaker, life coach and spiritual and emotional healer Sonya Khandelwal, Founder of Etheralsonia, has earned happiness and fulfilment by providing a smile to her client’s faces with solutions through her healing. “Of course, there is a sense of satisfaction in monetary terms as well as confidence, mental and spiritual happiness that I attain daily. It makes me realise my self-worth. It gives me a feeling of achieving, purchasing anything I want to make myself feel pampered and loved. Most importantly, it makes me feel abundant and boosts my self-confidence,” she shares.

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Path to fulfillment 

Khandelwal talks of different ways to get fulfilment via money. “Going to a spa and relaxation salon can give us a deep sense of upliftment as we release all stuck energies and get ready to receive more positive things in our life. Investing money in stocks and long-term plans can give us materialistic fulfilment. It is mentally satisfying and socially fulfilling too,” she avers. 

Spending on self-grooming is a huge thing. Self-love can be called the highest form of happiness, achievement and confidence. The first step suggested by Prabhakar is being grateful for the things one has. Despair about a low bank account is useless. “Remember that money is meant to be spent; it’s a flowing river. The more you spend, the more you will make. Next, choose experiences that help you learn and evolve,” she explains.

On a final note, be excited. Start creating a ‘positive emotional momentum’ beforehand. It is all about expecting just the best. Keep the imagination high that every experience will invite positives outcomes. 

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Bhagat speaks of money streamlining the ‘decision-making course’ in a meaningful way. “I would highly recommend taking frequent breaks throughout the year to travel. Connect with people around you. If your means permit, consider going all out for others. It’s the simplest example to have an experience with money,” he says.

The concept of getting fulfilling experiences comes from investing in timeless stuff. The iPhone 10 will mean nothing now. But the memories of an old expedition it captured will be worth more than the device and what you paid for it. It is where the difference lies. 

Vilas speaks of two types of successes. “The public success means what the world thinks about you. Many are into the rat race for public success and to get the best of luxuries. But its definition changes constantly. Despite public victory being important, the more important things are private or internal success. It means the things you have that money cannot buy like relationships, love, friendship, satisfaction, peace, etc. The combination is what makes you successful and defines what true wealth is,” Vilas explains.

Then there is parama arth. It is powerfully divine experiences that money cannot purchase. For example, writing a cheque of a hundred thousand rupees is easy. Yet the zeroes mean nothing without the one before the zeroes. 

“Unless you put that valuable one which stands for principles in life/dharma/inner voice, they are just zeroes. The one is the most defining element or the highest priority in your life. Similarly, in our own lives, we have to see what we want to put as the one,” Vilas adds. 

 Ayn Rand said – Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. Be the driver who knows how to use the tool.

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