Happiness and purpose

Happiness and purpose

Happy people have a sense of meaning and purpose

By Joanne Laucius

Canwest News Service

It’s true. Money can’t buy happiness, says Dr. Dan Baker.

“People who earn $20,000 a year think people who earn $50,000 are happier. People who earn $50,000 think people who earn $100,000 are happier,” he says. “Even the very wealthy find that there’s another step up from their level of wealth.”

Baker should know. The psychologist, who wrote the 2003 What Happy People know, which he followed up with What Happy Companies Know and What Happy Women Know, met more than his fair share of unhappy multi-millionaires at the Arizona health resort Canyon Ranch, where he was director of the “life-enhancement program” until last year.

Happiness research has shown that while getting your heart’s desire will increase your sense of happiness, it’s only temporary.

Only desperately poverty-stricken people have their unhappiness permanently lifted by an injection of money. Lottery winners experience a boost in happiness, but the euphoria wears off. The rich are happier only if it buys them choice, autonomy and respect, not just more toys.

On a national level, while economic development is generally believed to be a good thing, when a country is already wealthy, more money will not make its people happier.

There are other things besides money that won’t give you a permanent lift, says Baker.

And while you may think a permanent vacation will make you very happy indeed, it likely wouldn’t, he says.

Happy people are those who have a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives and a life of endless leisure won’t provide that, research has shown, research has shown.