Many people assume that if they only had a bit more money than they had presently, they would be happier. After all, more wealth can mean make more vacations, a bigger home, and nicer cars, and possible can lead to a more peaceful, thus a happier way of life, right?
Groucho Marx was once quoted as saying “While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.” Of course, Groucho’s comment was likely said in jest, but he might have a point. Happiness doesn’t come from money, as money can only change the circumstances around a person, not the person’s mental and emotional health.
A Harvard study followed a group of men for nearly eighty years. They found, among other things, that relationships are the number one key to overall happiness. This means, status and money were not found to correlate directly with overall happiness.
The researchers tracked the lives of a group of men for decades in what was called the Grand Study. Every two years, details of the participants’ lives, such as their employment situation, their family health, whether they had healthy friendships, their emotional and physical health and more were tabulated. The point of the extensive, long-term research project was to determine what, if any one singular thing, leads to a “good life.” After spending millions of dollars and years studying this subject, the results proved that those who were in healthy relationships were the ones who were the happiest, regardless of their financial situation. As it turns out the Beatles were right when they sang “All You Need is Love.”
“Real per capita income has more than tripled since the late 1950s, but the percentage of people saying they are happy has, if anything, slightly declined,” New York Times writer Jonathan Raunch reported on the study.
One could assume this modern unhappiness relates more to the modern lack of relationships than anything else, especially income. However, there is evidence from another study that confirms that even though being wealthy isn’t necessarily imperative to achieving happiness, there is a caveat.
Another study, this one completed by Purdue University, polled over 1.7 million people from all over the world, asking them to rate their lives from “worst possible” life to “best possible” life. Their ratings were then cross referenced with their income. The study found there was a “satiation point.” Of course, this point was different depending on where in the world the person resided. However, in general, according to study author Andrew T. Jebb, “there’s a certain point where money seems to bring no more benefits to well-being in terms of both feelings and a person’s evaluation.”
What this basically means is people need enough money to meet their basic needs of food, shelter and transportation. Once they have achieved that point and are living somewhat comfortably when it comes to their basic needs, having more money doesn’t increase happiness. The tipping point, so to speak, was found to be about $75,000 annually in North America. Since the study was performed in 2010, in today’s money, this would be closer to $86,000.
“It is known that actually helping others and being generous to them increases happiness,” lead author Philippe Tobler added.
The thought to take home is the fact that making more money isn’t going to make anyone happier, past a certain income level. Therefore, as the Bible says in various locations, it is best to desire “neither poverty or riches, but only our daily bread.” This, along with a commitment towards the relationships in one’s life and a willingness to give are the best way to ensure a happy existence.
~ 1776 Christian