Happiness and Money
Does money make you happy? The scientific data say it doesn’t. It appears that, as far as happiness is concerned, love – and some money in your pocket -- is all you need.
A study from the 2000 issue of American Psychologist makes this point. Researchers found that the Forbes’ top 100 wealthiest Americans were only negligibly happier than those of average means. Another article in Psychology Today states that well-being doesn’t rise alongside income levels after reaching $40,000 per year. And, according to polls, while personal income grew on the whole between 1956 and 1998 in America, happiness levels didn’t.
So if happiness isn’t tied to a hefty wallet, what is it tied to? Science provides data here, too. Studies show that those who describe themselves as happy have a few things going for them: a sense of community, a happy marriage, good health, and faith—to name the most common. On the flip side, those who valued high income, job success and prestige more than relationships were twice as likely to rate themselves as “fairly” or “very” unhappy.
Although it’s hoped that humanity is becoming wiser, we were actually more cognizant of this fundamental truth in the past. According to American Psychologist, from 1965-1997, about 85 percent of people believed that a meaningful philosophy of life was more important than financial prosperity. In 1998, less than 40 percent believed that.
Writer: Sydney Maupin, Christy Anderson—staff writers
Sources: Myers, D. G. (2000). "The funds, friends, and faith of happy people." American Psychologist, 55, 56–67; Diener, E. (2000). "Subjective well-being: The science of happiness, and a proposal for a national index." American Psychologist, 55, 34-43.