Money_woman

Buying happiness

The debate as to whether money can make you happy has probably been going on since pebbles and sticks became currency. When they were in The Beatles together John Lennon and Paul McCartney had a lyrical debate about money. Lennon wrote, “I work all day to get the money to buy you things, and it’s worth it just to hear you say, you’re gonna give me everything.” McCartney riposted, “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.”

Although their philosophies may have changed over the years the two Liverpudlians gave perfect voice to the two sides of the money debate. Now a new piece of research may have answered just how closely money does relate to happiness.

The first thing to note is that this survey was conducted on Americans. So the findings may not exactly translate to other cultures but they can certainly serve as a guide.

Respondents in the survey answered questions about income, satisfaction in life, emotions, stress levels, and overall wellbeing. The results indicated that most people were quite satisfied with their life but that feelings of overall wellbeing did rise with income. Interestingly, the relationship between money and happiness stopped at around an income of US$75 000 annually (AUD$78 300). Beyond this increases in income did not contribute to raised happiness levels.

What this suggests is that money is only important in so far as it allows you to do what you want to do; spend time with people you like, avoid pain and disease, and enjoy leisure. Low income levels heighten the emotional pain that is felt through life misfortunes like divorce, illness, and feeling lonely.

Up to a point then, money can buy happiness by allowing you the freedom to do the things that make you happy. Beyond that point though, the relationship disappears. Who knows, Henry David Thoreau may have been right: (to paraphrase him) beyond a certain point wealth increases the heat in your life and cooks you. Maybe you like the idea of being well done, or perhaps even medium rare in a white wine sauce? Whatever your preference, once the basics of life are catered for, how much happiness money brings you depends entirely on your values and your perspective. So does money bring you happiness? No, you bring you happiness.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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