Can money buy happiness? Let’s ask some more famous people:
“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.”
“By desiring little, a poor man makes himself rich.”
“Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has, the more one wants.”
“It is my opinion that a man’s soul may be buried and perish under a dung-heap, or in a furrow field, just as well as under a pile of money.”
“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know that it is.”
“Wealth is the ability to truly experience life.”
Henry David Thoreau
“He who loses money, loses much; he who loses a friend, loses much more; he who loses faith, loses all.”
“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
“It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money.”
“I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.”
“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.”
“Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.”
“There are people who have money, and there are people who are rich.”
Thanks to Aol.finance for those quotes. They’re inconclusive, I’d say, although they do tell us that money brings out the inner philosopher and humorist in famous people. Maybe we should have asked Adam Smith:
“As I am reminded every year by my students, those who encounter Smith’s writings for the first time are usually quite surprised to learn that he associated happiness with tranquility—a lack of internal discord—and insisted not only that money can’t buy happiness but also that the pursuit of riches generally detracts from one’s happiness. He speaks, for instance, of ‘all that leisure, all that ease, all that careless security, which are forfeited forever’ when one attains great wealth, and of ‘all that toil, all that anxiety, all those mortifications which must be undergone’ in the pursuit of it. Happiness consists largely of tranquility, and there is little tranquility to be found in a life of toiling and striving to keep up with the Joneses.”
The Problem With Inequality, According to Adam Smith, The Atlantic, June 6, 2016, Dennis C. Rasmussen, professor of political science at Tufts University.
According to the “invisible hand” man himself, both pursuing and possessing wealth make you unhappy. Maybe, but most of us are with Clare Booth Luce, Oscar Wilde, Albert Camus, Mark Twain, and Woody Allen — or with Tevye in his exchange with Perchik the Bolshevik:
Perchik: Money is the world’s curse.
Tevye: May the Lord smite me with it! And may I never recover!
I mean, all these famous (and mostly rich) people are entitled to their opinion, but we’d like to find out for ourselves if money could make us happy — we’re pretty sure we could handle it.
And for purposes of this blog, what we’d really like to know is whether money can buy lawyer happiness.
We’ll talk more about that next time.