When we think about happiness, we often find ourselves thinking about money. We tend to think about what money can buy us to make us happier. “If I had more money, I could buy a new television,” or “If I had more money, I could go out more often.” It’s easy for us to get caught up in the “ifs” of life. If we just had more, we could be happy. But, is that really true? Think about all the people you know in life. Are the ones with the most money or the nicest stuff really the happiest?
Research suggests that money does increase happiness up to a certain point. Below the poverty level, happiness is lower due to poor living conditions. It’s extremely hard to be happy when you’re constantly cold and hungry. Money continues to increase happiness, but once a yearly income of between $60,000 and $75,000 is reached, the correlation stops. Someone who makes 75k a year is no less happy than someone who makes 500k a year.
This isn’t to say money isn’t a helpful tool in increasing happiness, because it can be, but money isn’t the direct cause of happiness. Money can help “fix” problems and reduce stress. It makes it easier to deal with and overcome adversities that would otherwise make us unhappy. If your car breaks down and you don’t make enough money to cover the repair, that causes a lot of stress and unhappiness. However, once that need can be met without a problem, having extra money doesn’t matter as much anymore, because the direct cause of the unhappiness can be taken care of with little stress. It’s not the amount of money that matters as much as it is having the ability to take care of problems as they arise.
It can be difficult to break away from this line of thought: that more money means more happiness. Society has ingrained it in us. If we had more money, we could buy nicer things and we would be happier. If only we could get a raise and buy a new car or television, we’d be happier. But, that simply isn’t true as research has come to show. That doesn’t mean a little extra money doesn’t help sometimes. What it does mean is that how much money you have and how happy you feel are two separate ideas. They are independent factors in your life that have absolutely nothing to do with one another.
Now, knowing this, take another moment to reflect on your life. Are you happy even though you’re not a millionaire? You might not have the newest phone or a sports car, but there are probably a lot of things that make you happy. You have friends and hobbies that make you happy. And, yes, hobbies can cost money, but is your hobby particularly expensive? Do you need a lot of money for it, and if you exchanged it for a more expensive hobby would you be happier with it? We urge you today to ponder these questions and then leave comments below if you agree with what research says.