Does Money Bring Happiness?
Does Money Bring Happiness?
This is a question we often ask ourselves. Psychology and sociological studies provide some answers.
We are all familiar with the idea that money does not buy happiness, but we know it can go a long way! We all need it because we all spend money to meet our needs (housing, food, clothing, travel, etc…), and for most of us, it is nevertheless a limited resource. So, can we spend our money in a way that can maximize our happiness? Psychological research offers good insight into the connections between money and happiness.
What is the True Wealth That Leads to The Path of Happiness?
Money is important, especially for serenity and personal security. It is a real luxury not to miss, not to count. This allows us to be more peaceful and lighter in the face of daily life. Ask anyone who lacks it what worries, fears, and stress it can cause. Having a comfortable salary or high income can allow you to have a house in a quieter neighborhood, be better covered for your health, eat better and have more leisure activities, take beautiful trips, etc. But it has its limits.
Once our cash flow has reached a certain level and our basic needs for food, shelter, safety, and health are met, the positive effects of cash (like buying our dream house or car) are often outweighed by the negative effects of maintaining that income (like working more or having a more stressful job that develops a need for ever more which can lead to an unfulfilled side), inside ourselves. It is money that determines our social level but, indeed, not our real wealth!
Doing Can Make Us Happier Than Owning!
Most people think “hardware” brings more happiness than “experiences.” Physical objects (like the latest iPhone, a purse, or a car) actually last longer than a concert, dinner out, cooking class, or vacation. Certainly, buying things makes us happy and brings us the pleasure of owning, but that is in the short term.
In the long run, we get used to the new. And even if they could excite us and make us happy at the beginning, the objects become normal, quickly obsolete, and discolored little by little. Even when you’re driving this dream car, you’ll still be talking about your last beach vacation with friends and family. You might even laugh at the mechanical problems with your vehicle that forced you to spend the night in a seedy hotel. Our good times spent have priceless value because happiness cannot be bought and has no price!
Spending on Others Can Bring Happiness!
Many people believe that spending money on themselves will make them happier than spending on others. However, when researchers measure happiness before and after people spend, they find a higher rate of happiness when they spend on others or donate to charity than when they spend on themselves. And this is regardless of the value of the gift or donation. You must also agree to give in order to be able to receive. One of the explanations for this phenomenon is that giving to others makes us feel better and allows us to circulate money energy by using it wisely!! We can then be happy to please with money.
What Do Studies Say About Our Relationship with Money And Happiness?
Does money bring happiness? Here is a delicate question that has very different answers according to the people questioned. According to the Visual Capitalist site, which tried to answer this question from a data perspective, there is a potential answer: money buys some happiness, but only to a certain extent.
Here is a simple exercise: imagine two people; one is a millionaire, and the other has an average income. Who do you think would be happiest if her fortune was instantly doubled?
The millionaire would undoubtedly be happy to have more in his bank account, but materially his life would not really be upset (after all, we are talking about a millionaire). On the other hand, the person with an average income could have more in their bank account and use these new resources to have fun and offer better opportunities to their family, repay a debt, or better balance their daily life between work and private life.
These resources would mean real change for a person, eventually increasing their life satisfaction and well-being. And like this hypothesis, the data tells the same thing when looking at the different countries.
Are the Wealthiest Countries the Happiest?
The Visual Capitalist site has studied the relationship between GDP per capita and reported levels of happiness in each country, using in particular data available from the World Bank and the World Happiness Report 2022.
From the numbers, the relationship between money and happiness is initially strong for countries. Later, when the material elements of Maslow’s pyramid have been acquired, the relationship becomes more difficult to predict.
In general, this means that when the fortune of a country increases from $10,000 to $20,000 per person, the happiness trend line will move upwards. If it doubles again from $30,000 to $60,000, that relationship still holds, but with a lot more gaps.
Therefore, in Latin America, people are more satisfied in relation between money and happiness might suggest. Costa Rica is predominantly representative, with a GDP per capita of $15,600 and a score of 7.14 on the Cantril scale (measuring happiness). Whether it’s the country’s beauty or culture, the people of Costa Rica have a higher rate of happiness than the USA, Belgium, or Germany. These countries nevertheless have higher levels of wealth.
In the Middle East, the situation is reversed. Countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and UAE are all on the other side of the trendline. Even within the regions, there is also a great deal of diversity. In the Middle East, the wealth-happiness range does not apply as it does in other parts of the world.
So, in Qatar, the wealthiest country in the world with a GDP per capita of $84424.64, things are stranger. Qatar scores 6.37 on the Cantril scale, making it a big exception, even in the particular context of the Middle East. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman are all poorer than Qatar in terms of GDP per capita and yet are happier places. Oman scores 6.85 on the satisfaction scale, with less than a third of Qatar’s per capita wealth.
There are other oddities in the list: Uzbekistan, Thailand, and Pakistan are all significantly happier than the trendline (or their location) might suggest. However, places like Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore, and Luxembourg are less fortunate than their wealth means.
In summary, there is no rule for the country. Whatever the GDP, real wealth goes through the heart’s wealth and not the bank account. Everything happens inside us and not on the outside. Happiness does not depend on money. It depends on how we open ourselves up to other riches such as love, friendship, sharing, tolerance, taking care of one’s health, interest in others, etc.
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