Money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure buy memories

Column by J1 Reporter Elizabeth Monzu

Elizabeth’s Empirical Columns

I have been told since I was very young that being materialistic is bad and relying on comfort from physical possessions is not the way to go. People should depend on their intellect and moral compass more than just acquiring things. However, material things help people find joy and a certain kind of security in their life. Things can bring people joy despite the saying that “money can’t buy happiness,” however, it is through the way those objects bring back fond memories that brings this happiness.

This saying does have a certain amount of truth to it, since permanent happiness is found in being with the ones you love and being with people rather than inanimate objects. 

People retain memories from their happiest times, but how many of these recollections don’t involve money or material things? A lot of my best memories with my whole family are on trips, during holidays, going out to dinner and catching up, and a lot more, all of which involve money or things because when being with people, we also need other distractions to keep ourselves attentive, like food, gifts, entertainment and interesting scenery. Therefore, the materialistic things are important in the memories of our happiness. 

Objects also bring with them lots of emotions that can be associated with a specific moment in our lives or of a specific person. An object may bring a jolt of nostalgia and by looking back at the happy moment that object may represent, people can become content. 

Most of these objects, or prized possessions, that bring the most memories are the ones that come in the most meaningful of times. Presents for birthdays or Christmas are not most people’s prized possessions because they don’t come from a memory of miraculous emotion. The most unexpected gifts or objects often have the most sentimental value. For example, souvenirs from vacations can bring memories from that vacation with your family. 

For me, one of these objects of utmost value is a plastic ring with a star that can glow on the end. It was a gift from my grandmother, not as a birthday present or a Christmas gift, but as something she gave to me because she just had it. I got it a long time ago, and I still have it displayed on my dresser. I have been asked many times by multiple people why I don’t just throw it away because it’s “taking up space” or is “unnecessary.” But this ring reminds me of who my grandmother was. Whenever I look at it, I remember that she gave it to me for no other reason than because she wanted to. I remember her character and the happy and joyous memories we shared with one another. It was the most unexpected gift, but holds greater value than a lot of material things in my life because of its connection with my grandmother. 

This is testimony that even the littlest things can remind people of the best things, which is why objects can be so powerful and why people need important possessions in their life to remain happy. 

An excess of possessions without any meaning is the purpose of the saying “money can’t buy happiness,” but it is just not truthful to say that all possessions hold no emotional connection with people at all. Money can buy memories through objects, which in turn reminds people of the joyous moments in their lives.

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