Can Money Buy Happiness? - Riga Stradiņš University

Can Money Buy Happiness?

14:43, 19 March, 2015
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happiness-intro20 March is the International Day of Happiness. Experts of Rīga Stradiņš University – Biruta Kupča, associate professor and psychiatrist of the Faculty of Medicine, and Klāvs Sedlenieks, lecturer and social anthropologist of the Faculty of Communication – share their opinion about happiness, money and happiness and Latvian saying that every bird must hatch its own eggs.

Klāvs Sedlenieks emphasizes that the term “happiness” can be interpreted in many ways – depending on the concept of the happiness of a certain group. On the one hand – happiness is an emotional state, thus it is a very subjective emotional state. On the other hand – some people have tried to explain the notion of happiness in terms of objective reality.

In the Latvian language, happiness (in Latvian – laime) involves a connotation of luck, as there are such words as gambling house (in Latvian – laimētava), win (in Latvian – laimēt) that are related to luck and fortune.

Mr Sedlenieks believes that money cannot buy happiness as an emotional state. “Research gives evidence that the amount of money itself does not make one happy.” If the amount of money for a person increases for some period of time in his or her life, the person is happy, but only for a short while. The amount of money that other people have matters more to the person – one is happier if he or she has at least a little more money than his or her college, neighbour or other person.

However, the Latvian saying “every bird must hatch its own eggs” is misleading, considers the social anthropologist. “Everybody, of course, can do something to change his or her living conditions, but forging of happiness by oneself is complicated”, as we cannot do anything about the fact that other people have more than us, we can only change our situation. The circumstances that surround us do not depend on us.

Biruta Kupča considers that happiness refers to all the situations when a person experiences or feels positive emotions – joy, satisfaction, excitement.

“In order to experience these feelings, one should ensure circumstances that stimulate and incite these positive feelings. The circumstances do not appear themselves – they should be created, fostered. Sometimes one even has to fight for such circumstances.” Joy, according to the professor, is firstly experienced thanks to one's family, relatives and friends, then – thanks to work, interests and hobbies. “The interests, however, have to be fostered – one has to study, read, to go into details. You can feel happy when you pursue your interests, but, if you wish to understand, for example, symphonic music, you have to study and go deep into the subject.”

Associate professor Kupča disagrees to the saying that money does not bring happiness. “Unfortunately, you cannot go to a concert, theatre without money… You need money and material investments to pursue your interests and thus experience satisfaction, joy and contentment.”

Rīga Stradiņš University, 16 Dzirciema Street, Rīga, LV-1007, Latvia, +371 67409261 (UTC +2),