Society has conditioned us to believe that money can solve all our problems. We think we’ll finally find happiness when we buy a bigger house, drive a more luxurious car, and have nicer clothes in our closet. But here’s the truth—money is not the ultimate key to happiness. Having money doesn’t solve all your issues, and it certainly won’t improve your mental health.
Money is a huge cause of stress for most people. It’s a lot of pressure to make ends meet, support a family, and maintain your lifestyle, especially in the age of COVID-19. If you’re feeling depressed about your life and finances, don’t assume that winning the lottery will make you a happier person. If you’re chasing a bigger bank account to cure your depression, you’re going to continue to suffer.
Wealth Doesn’t Guarantee Happiness
Humans are programmed to correlate money with happiness. If you’re someone who suffers from depression or other mental health issues, you might think that having more money will eliminate all your problems, therefore curing your depression.
The belief that money buys happiness a flawed assumption. It causes people to prioritize work and money over more important things in their life, like family and self-care. The constant desire for more money means you’re not living in the present moment, and you aren’t appreciative for what you already have. That mindset can fuel depression, and lead to other issues such as anxiety and burnout.
If you want a real-life example to prove that money doesn’t guarantee happiness, just look at celebrities. In recent years, Demi Lovato, Kendall Jenner, Chrissy Tiegan, Prince Harry, and Lena Dunham have opened up about their personal struggles with depression and anxiety.
These individuals have enormous bank accounts, lucrative careers, and the nicest material goods that money can buy. Yet these celebrities are proof that having money doesn’t guarantee happiness. Celebrities may not have the same “money problems” as regular people, but they deal with daily struggles that have a significant impact on their mental health.
On the contrary, it’s not to say that having money won’t improve your life in some ways. If you used to live paycheck to paycheck, and you get a major raise at work, you’re going to feel less stressed about making your rent, affording groceries, etc. In that situation, having more money can lift a huge weight off your shoulders and allow you to start saving for your future.
But will getting a raise at work solve all of your biggest life problems? Probably not. Increasing the number in your bank account will not mend your broken relationships, improve your physical health, help you find your soulmate, or finally get rid of your bad habits. Only you can improve those areas of your life through hard work and commitment.
Hedonic Adaptation and Barriers to Happiness
One of the main reasons why money doesn’t guarantee happiness is due to what’s called hedonic adaptation. Hedonic adaptation is the concept that humans will always return to a baseline level of happiness after experiencing either a positive or negative life experience.
Sonja Lyubomirsky is one of the leading experts who studies the pursuit of happiness, and what makes some people happier than others. Her research has found that people who are constantly looking for greater happiness will never find exactly what they’re looking for. Although certain events can bring happiness, like getting married or winning the lottery, they don’t make us as happy as we expected, and the feeling of happiness wears off very quickly.
Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychology professor who studies happiness, believes that there is no accurate way to predict human happiness based on certain outcomes. What we assume will bring us happiness in the future is generally inaccurate because we base our feelings on what’s happening in the present moment.
Here’s an example. Imagine that your sibling, who has a very high-paying job, just bought a beautiful new house. Meanwhile, you’re living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment and can’t afford a nicer place. Naturally, you’ll believe that once you have money like your sibling, you’ll be able to move into your dream home and your life will improve significantly.
Now imagine that it’s five years in the future, you have tons of money in the bank, and you’re finally living in your dream home. For the first few months, you feel on top of the world. Everything you hoped for is finally yours. But after a while, you start to realize that your dream house is just another place to live. It serves the exact same purpose as your old one-bedroom apartment.
Ultimately, you’re not as happy as you were before. You’re starting to realize that the dream house didn’t make you as happy as you thought you would be. This is hedonic adaptation at work. What you thought would make you happy five years ago isn’t the case today. At this point, you’re already thinking about another thing that could bring you ultimate happiness.
Treatment for Depression
If you’re someone who struggles with depression, this cycle of searching for happiness can make your condition worse. As you can see, money rarely equates to greater happiness or better mental health. If past traumas or negative life experiences are causing you to feel depressed, those feelings will remain with you until you address those issues and change your mindset.
There are a number of things that can cause depression, including environmental and biological factors. Although most people are able to manage their depression symptoms through a combination of therapy and medication, it’s not the case for everyone.
If you’re suffering from depression that hasn’t improved with regular treatment, TMS might be a good solution. TMS uses electromagnetic waves to stimulate areas of the brain that are less active in people with depression. It’s a non-invasive treatment that is FDA-approved and has been proven to be effective for individuals with treatment-resistant depression.
To learn more about TMS at Pulse, call us at (310) 846-8460.