The Economics of Joy

Imagine for a moment living in a world where everyone gets what they want. Would any of us be happy? The answer is a resounding no because inadvertently, our desires would more often than not conflict with the desires of others. When we look at happiness and fulfillment resulting from obtaining wants, it becomes clear that happiness is a resource. Therefore, the principles of economics apply, and happiness is scarce. 

Obviously, we can’t take inventory of all the happiness in the world and calculate its value, but we’ve all heard the expression that money can’t buy happiness. Usually, it refers to the idea that no amount of money (or material things) will make a person happy. This idea can be expanded to all external factors: no amount of praise, no amount of sex, no amount of power, etc., will make a person happy. We can also expand this idea to say that happiness is more valuable than gold. 

So if happiness doesn’t come from the outside, where does it come from? Well, that’s a tricky question to answer. There is a combination of factors that lead to obtaining joy. One being able to have your basic needs met, and two being able to exercise free choice. Outside of these two things, everything else that contributes to or deducts from your happiness is subjective. We want more than we need, but true joy comes from being appreciative of what we have.