Happiness Doesn’t Cost A Thing – Namsurei Thomas Kamei, Head of Department of Economics

Money affects our lives in many different ways. Practices such as corruption, extortion, and taxation that are prevalent in our land are all about money. The power structures dictate that the wealthy are more powerful and influential, tipping the scales in their favour, and suggesting what we prefer to deny that with money comes power. Yet, we ask ‘does money actually guarantee us true happiness’? While it may be a necessity to survive, how much money do we really need to be happy?

Happiness Doesn’t Cost A Thing

Happy New Year 2015 to all the readers! It’s a common practice to make resolutions for the New Year, which we don’t keep most of the time. This New Year I have made a resolution not to make resolutions (except one which I intend to disclose later). It is also common that during Christmas and New Year, Christians all over the world become more Christian. For some of us, it is time to visit the church even if we haven’t done so for the whole year. We all do these in the hope of finding happiness.

 Many of us will agree that we saved up money for these celebrations. Extra shopping makes us feel that we are ready for Christmas and New Year celebrations. Most of us feel that if we have shopped enough, we will be happy enough. This is distantly the feeling among many of us around this time of the year.  We equate happiness with what money can buy. We frequently equate success with the amount of money we earn. For most of us, money has become central to all important events in our lives.

Looking at the society we live in, the most respected person in a community is, almost all the time, the highest earning member and the highest contributor to, most frequently religious or church related activities. Someone who takes the final decision seems to be the person who controls the purse. Someone who can sway things is a deep pocketed person. Money is occupying a central position in our lives. But is money the most important? Does money merit the importance we attach with it? Does money gain us real respect? Does money buy us happiness? Shall we limit our lives by taking decisions which are always money based?

In my opinion, there are higher human values that money can’t buy. Human beings as we are, we need love, respect, honour and security and above all we crave for happiness. Does money buy us all these values?

Traditionally, money has been in use as a measure of development, growth and even happiness. It is commonly understood that money is a means to growth, development and happiness. So we have countries of the world classified according to their level of income. We have countries with high income, with middle-level income and low income. The progress and development of a nation is judged by the amount of income it generates during a time period, usually one fiscal year.  Accordingly, we have the so called developed countries, the developing and the under developed countries. It is perceived that higher level of income ensures higher standard of living and higher level of happiness. The differences in these categories of countries are limitless. But surprisingly, there is no single parameter by which we can measure development. Income or money isn’t a sufficient measure for level of development. Money can’t define development. It can’t define progress. Certainly it can’t define happiness. If we are to go, purely by the level of income, the country with the highest per capita income (PCI) must be the country where its citizens are almost in the state of perfect living conditions. Often, this is not the case. Factors like environmental conditions (pollution), law and order problems, political instability, and availability of social overheads determine the level of wellness of the people of a society.  Thus, money isn’t everything.

If I am new to any place in Nagaland say, Dimapur, and ask someone to take me there; I wonder where I will be taken. There are localities, villages and khels. But there is no single place which defines Dimapur once we reach there. Happiness, progress, growth and development are something similar to the concept above. Centralizing money as everything is incomplete. There are more things to life than money.
Economists define “money as a matter of four functions; a medium of exchange, a store of value, a unit of account and a standard of deferred payment”. Money has been serving us with these important functions. It has also solved the problem inherent in barter system. In short, it has simplified our life’s activities, but it has never served as a source for happiness.  For some of us, money, which is just a means has become the end itself. As humans, we strive for so many things. For all who are striving- let us strive for happiness.
2014 is gone, 2015 is here and 2016 is what we will be looking forward to. What is done can’t be undone. The future is uncertain. The present is all that we have. The moment at present is all that matters for us. We all want happiness certainly. We all need money. But how much money do you need? Which is a better option? To have lots of money but no happiness at all in life or to have some money and all the happiness in life. Surprisingly, both happiness and money can be earned. It is ironic that we tried earning money to find happiness but in the process we missed little things that make us smile. How much time do we devote to find that happiness in a simple way? Do we forget those moments that lighten our lives in our mad pursuit for money? How important is happiness in your life? How important is money in your life?

This year I will give my 100% in everything I do without worrying too much about the outcome because that is my simplest way of finding happiness. This is my resolution for the New Year. What about yours?


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