Does money make us happy? The debate has raged for as long as I can remember.
Some studies say no altogether.
Other studies put a specific number of when money no longer contributes to happiness. But even those vary greatly: $20,000, $50,000, $75,000.
To add more confusion, you can still find other studies that report there is, in fact, no limit to the amount of happiness money can bring you.
Confusing data to say the least.
Because regardless of which study you choose to believe (or want to believe), one thing is for sure:
Money might not make you happy, but as Zig Ziglar once said, “everybody wants to find out for themselves.”
And that is where the greatest distraction to our well-being lives—not in how much money we have, but in how much we desire it.
Regardless of how much money contributes to happiness (and the jury is apparently still out on that), the one thing we do know is this:
Prioritizing the pursuit of money NEVER contributes to overall happiness and life satisfaction.
In fact, those who prioritize money over the pursuit of more value-based goals end life with less satisfaction and fulfillment.
This ought to be a major personal concern to each of us considering how often we prioritize money over other things—often because we believe it will contribute to our happiness and life satisfaction.
According to one recent study, 79% of Americans believe they will be happier if they had more money.
As a result, as you might imagine, 69% of Americans also say their desire for money influences their daily decisions.
If our starting belief is that more money will increase our happiness, it makes perfect sense we will strategize our days and action on how to acquire more of it.
But in a recent study of 100,000 people published in the Harvard Business Review, Ashley Whillans points out that people who prioritize time over money have a better quality of life.
And this higher quality of life shows up in almost every regard: “more fulfilling social relationships, more satisfying careers, more joy, and higher rates of general satisfaction.”
Of course, there are many in the world who do need more money for legitimate survival. But most likely, if you are being honest, you already make enough to provide for your needs—probably even more than enough.
Certainly 79% of us don’t need more money for survival. We’re prioritizing it because we think it will make us happier.
But when it takes priority over other more life-giving pursuits, not only does it not contribute to our happiness—it distracts us from it.
And this is why the belief that more money will make us happier is so dangerous—it may be the very pursuit keeping us from happiness.
Our stone age brains have evolved to never have enough. But today in Western democracies most live lives that are unimaginable even compared to a few decades ago. But whether we like it or not, we still have the stone age brains.
Spoken like a rich guy making money off convincing others they don’t need money.
This article is tone deaf.
Brian Barr says
In some ways, “Happiness” seems to be a vague and variable term with goals that are ever changing and not fixed—a chasing after some sort of pleasant, yet unfulfilling, emotion. Maybe being responsible with whatever one has—saving, investing, earning, budgeting, learning— are better aims and do bring an eventual reward (true happiness). This pursuit may then enable us to lift our neighbors out of whatever poverty they are currently experiencing.