Can Money Ever Buy You Happiness?By Lesley Lyle
Many people believe that having money would put an end to all their problems—and for those who struggle to make ends meet, it’s easy to understand why. More money could mean being able to afford quality healthcare, food, a decent place to live in a nice area, and perhaps the ability to leave an unsatisfactory job. Sure, money could make a difference to many aspects of your life, but could it really improve your happiness? Here’s what science has to say.
Will a Higher Income Make You Happier?
Not necessarily. A study of more than 12,000 people from various social and economic groups found no correlation between income and happiness. Those who were affluent didn’t experience as much sadness as those who were poorer—nor was there evidence to show that they were any happier. Many people believe that money will make them happy because their unhappiness is rooted in financial problems. Yet positive psychology explains that happiness is not the same as the absence of unhappiness, just as health is not the same as the absence of disease.
Happiness is a process that is created through one's habits and behaviors, which many have discovered can’t be bought with money. What’s more, this study showed that some of the people who earned higher incomes and were able to afford more possessions and experiences actually seemed to enjoy and savor them less! Earning more may make you less sad in general, but could also reduce your current happiness by reducing your ability to enjoy some of the things you do now.
The Truth About the Lotto
Instead of earning more money, would acquiring instant wealth, such as winning the lottery, increase your happiness? A study of over 500 lottery winners from 12 states in the U.S. showed that most were well adjusted, secure, and generally happy after winning sums from $50,000 to millions of dollars. Many continued to work even though they could afford not to, and gave large amounts of their winnings away to their children and churches. The most common expenditures were buying a house, purchasing a new car, and traveling, but there was no evidence that they were happier than before.
Another study compared the happiness of lottery winners, a group of paralyzed accident victims, and a control group. Participants were asked to rate the amount of pleasure they got from everyday activities such as talking with friends, watching television, and enjoying a joke.The results showed that in relation to the questions, the accident victims’ level of happiness was higher than expected.