Can Money Buy Happiness?

–Georgia Davis Blog Post 1–

Can money buy happiness?  

Various Princeton University researchers think so, and they know how much it takes: $75,000 a year.  Robinson Crusoe might disagree, though — and I’m with him.

Robinson was on track to live the comfortable middle-class life that had been arranged for him, but following his ignorance, went out to sea despite his father’s many wishes for him to stay.  He parted ways from his family alongside his companions, who prompted him with the “common allurement of seafaring men, costing him nothing for his passage.”

Fast forwarding through various misfortunes and misery during his voyages at sea, he ultimately landed in the Bay de Todos los Santos, Brazil.  Here, he made quarters with a man who owned an ingenio, or a plantation and sugar-house. After living there for some years, he started to assimilate, learning their language as well as how to manage his own sugar plantation.  It was then that he realized he was “coming into the very middle station, or upper degree of lower life,” which his father had arranged for him in England. He ultimately achieved what he sought to escape.

Robinson had but every reason to remain in Brazil where he was making a living for himself, which he could have used to return to England if he so pleased.  However, he felt as though he was “born to be his own destroyer,” and, seeking freedom and adventure, agreed to venture to Africa among the proposal of retrieving slaves to assist in his plantation as well as those of his neighbors.  

Venturing out to sea again, he ultimately threw away his new-found and self-made middle-class life.  He soon found himself stranded on an island with nothing but a dog, a cat, and the remains of his ship.  

For the next 28 years, two months and 19 days he inhabited this island.  Indeed he was overwhelmingly sad and lonely for the first handful of years.  He often thought about his escape, and once attempted to craft his way home via canoe.  After creating not one but two furnished homes for himself on this island, acquiring “servants” after saving slaves from cannibals, taming goats and rapidly reproducing cats, and there being of no shortage of food, he realized he ultimately ruled this land as King.  Robinson was content.

But, back to money and happiness. Yes, Robinson initially went to sea both to adventure and take part in trade to make some profits.  However, his search for money is what led to his ultimate misery which he did not escape until happily ruling his island and finding peace.  Many argue that money can buy happiness, because it can buy experiences – but obviously not all experiences are worth buying. Some of the worst and best experiences of our lives are available for the taking, but not available for purchase.  Money had no relevance to living on the island at all, and while he had a great fortune from his Brazil plantation upon his deliverance from being stranded, he gave much of this away to those who helped him throughout his hardships. Robinson even ventured back to his Island after escaping on eagerness to continue his traveling lifestyle.

Money never helped him through his hardships, people did.  Perhaps Robinson’s happiness was brought to him through his own self reliance along with the relationships he formed during his adventures.  Not only his outside relationships, but his relationship with himself ultimately saved him.

To conclude my argument; money can’t buy happiness, relationships build happiness.