Does money make people happier?

Does money make people happier?

Money is part of our lives. Sometimes it may seem that happiness is directly proportional to the amount of money in the bank account. Numerous psychological studies are still trying to answer the question: can money really buy happiness? Let’s look at how size of the bank account and life satisfaction are related. And can happiness be bought this way?

We don’t need too much money to be happy

More than 10 years ago, a study of 1,000 people was conducted. It showed that people with high incomes feel happier. However, with a few exceptions, it was about people with incomes up to $75,000 a year. Once earnings exceeded that amount, emotional well-being was no longer directly related to the amount of money.

This experiment showed that once a person’s basic needs were met, they no longer needed a lot of money for well-being.

A new 2021 study involving more than a million people found that there is no such thing as a tipping point where, after earning a certain amount, a person stopped feeling happy. In this experiment, participants’ well-being was measured in more detail. They were asked to say how they felt right now, at this moment. And judging by the “real time” results, workers with very high incomes felt great and satisfied with their lives.

Similarly, a Swedish study of lottery winners found that even years later, people who won big money had greater life satisfaction, better mental health and were more prepared for such misfortunes as divorce, illness and loneliness.

Estimated and experienced well-being

There are two main types of well-being assessments: evaluative and experiential. As can be seen, there is disagreement in the research conducted as to whether the everyday experience of positive emotions actually increases with unrestricted income. Psychologists argue that not everywhere in the world is material well-being associated with happiness.

Not everything in the world can be bought. There are material and non-material things, as well as achievements that can only be deserved by hard work and deeds.

In a large study involving a million people, experiential well-being increased steadily with increasing income. But that experiment included only people from the United States. It is not an exaggeration to say that the culture there is more materialistic than in other countries, and income levels play a huge role in everyday life.

Another study of Mayan people in the poor rural region of Yucatan, Mexico, did not show that level of well-being was related to happiness. A separate Gallup World Poll survey of people from many countries and cultures also confirmed that intangible factors, such as respect, social support, influenced happiness levels.

Another interesting point. A study of super-rich millionaires, whose fortune was estimated at $8 million, showed that those who earned it with labor and effort were happier. This was not shown by those who inherited their wealth.

Money is not happiness itself

Of course, big earnings and wealth can make you happier. This is because money compensates for some of our shortcomings and negative emotions. In addition, having a big bank account gives you much more freedom: you can travel anywhere, live anywhere, do anything.

But do not forget that money does not solve all of life’s problems. In general, a lot of money can have a destructive effect on your psyche. And there are thousands of such examples (for example, people who won the lottery or received an inheritance).

And yet, there are more advantages to owning wealth than disadvantages. And one of the most important: you are less dependent on circumstances, because with money you can solve a lot of problems in your life. Wealth can increase your life satisfaction and make it easier to get positive emotions.

Big money “unties” our hands: we start doing what we really want to do. 

But getting rich is not the only way to be happy. There are millions of people in the world who have become happy, free, successful and without “zeros” in their bank account. By the way, many of them still lead a modest lifestyle.

Note that all recent studies of psychologists and scientists confirm: A man for happiness turns out to need not so much: home, family, work, health, friends… And you don’t need millions of dollars in a bank account to lead a full and productive life. On the contrary, there are so many stories where wealth has “turned heads” and people have lost everything they had before.

In conclusion, we should note that in Ancient Rome, wealth was defined as the holistic well-being of a person in life. That is, this aspect was considered not only in terms of the amount of money, but also other factors: health, education, personal relationships and position in society.


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