04 Oct Many people believe money can buy happiness
Many people believe money can buy happiness
There is an old saying that says money can’t buy happiness.
Some time ago a man came into my office and introduced himself. He was quite wealthy and possessed more money than he would ever spend. After visiting with him for some time I realized that despite all of his money he was not a happy person. Just before he left he said something interesting: “You know something? Money has ruined my life.”
Stop for a minute and think of the three happiest people you know. Now think of the three grumpiest. They aren’t necessarily the three richest and poorest respectively are they?
A certain amount of money is needed to achieve happiness. Studies have shown that when you drop below a certain level of income, let’s say $20,000, your odds of being happy decrease significantly. However they also show that once a certain level of income is reached, around $50,000, the odds of being happy do not increase much more. Once you have enough income to provide comfortably for basic needs, happiness is affected much more by what you do with yourself and your life than by what you have.
One reason that money does not lead to more happiness is that it is often accompanied by more stress. Increased responsibilities at work and increased commuting times increase your stress and reduce your happiness.
Another major factor is that people tend to compare themselves to their neighbors and associates. Buying a new house is nice, but after time when you realize you have the smallest house on the block you may feel less happy about it. Indeed, if you look at two individuals with the same income and one lives in a richer area, the person living in the richer area reports being less happy.
In addition, when you start to have even more money, friends and family may start to lean on you when they need money and that can be very problematic.
So if money doesn’t make us happier, after a point, what does?
Living within your means financially plays a big part. Spending more than you make brings constant stress and worry to your life, thus lowering your happiness. Perhaps more important than how much, or what you do with your money, is what you do with your time.
Personal relationships play a much larger role in happiness than money. Those with at least five close relationships report being very happy compared with those with fewer relationships. From a study between the 70s and the 90s, the University of Chicago found that 40 percent of married people reported being very happy while among those who never married only 25 percent said they were very happy.
What we do with our time also plays a large role. Those who watch a lot of television report being less happy while those who spend more time with hobbies such as golf and musical instruments report being happier.
Remember, being rich will not make you happier but having a deficiency of money can make you unhappy. After you attain a suitable level, pursue relationships and enjoyable activities to increase your happiness.
Happiness by income :
Less than $20,000 – 22 percent report being happy.
$20,000-$50,000 – 30 percent report being happy.
$50,000-$90,000 – 42 percent report being happy.
More than $90,000 – 43 percent report being happy.
Source: “Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer? A Focusing Illusion” by D. Kahneman and A. Krueger.
Dustin Woodbury in Utah’s The Spectrum