Does Money Bring Happiness?
A recent article in Time magazine raises the age-old question: can money buy happiness? More specifically it explores the relationship between money and happiness, in light of recent studies indicating that wealthier people were generally happier than poorer people.
The article is quick to point out that this is not a causation but a correlation. That is to say that some sort of pattern seems to exist, however it is not as simple as money being synonymous with happiness. There is also no directly proportional relationship between means and joy. For instance, getting a 5% raise does not necessarily mean you will be 5% happier.
In fact, the article points to conclusions drawn by a psychologist and an economist that indicate increases in money don’t really do much to increase happiness over $75,000 a year. So what is the message here?
The most interesting point made in the article, reinforced by the leveling off in happiness after a certain income level, is that money and the goods it provides aren’t likely what is resulting in happiness. The happiness comes from the sense of security that lies in not having to worry about getting by. The author makes a note about being a student and always checking price tags, calculating whether he could afford things and what he might have to sacrifice in one area to spend in another. As he puts it, “You’re making these tradeoffs and you’re constantly aware of these tradeoffs. And it’s tiring.”
The solution? Another excellent point made in the article is that the best thing a person can do to better themselves is through education. It points out that while the world loves to discuss the correlation between wealth and happiness, there is well established research that indicates higher education leads to greater happiness. Education also leads to a likelihood for better work and that sense of security that we all search for.
Money Alone Isn’t The Answer
According to the article, in the end what we all want is to worry less. It is true that money can help that situation, but only to a point. The goal should be bettering ourselves and supporting our families. Chasing outrageous wealth will not bring us outrageous levels of happiness. Enough to get by and secure our future is all we need. There is always a chance to make more money, but we shouldn’t delay our happiness waiting for that day to come.
Parents: There will always be some level of financial concerns in raising a family. Children should learn a healthy respect for money but not believe that it has more importance than it does. When our needs are provided for, we have all we need to be happy. Getting more of the wants doesn’t guarantee anything. Help children to better themselves and appreciate what they have.
Teens: It is easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll be happy when ____.” Often we fill in this blank with money or something that money will by. Delaying our happiness and making it conditional on getting something we want only ensures that there is always something more to chase before we allow ourselves to be happy. By focusing on what really matters, what we need to be ourselves, we can be happy with what we have. Everything beyond that is just a bonus. Our happiness comes from within.