Back in 2010, the University of Princeton published a study on how people making $ 75 000 per year were reportedly happier than those earning less than this amount. A lot of media outlets and people immediately jumped to the conclusion that money buys happiness.
Well, I kind of disagree with this statement…no point in writing a post otherwise!
you can’t buy happiness at the supermarket
Happiness is not a tangible product. It is not something you can see or touch. There are lots of variables when it comes to happiness.
If you ask 10 people what their definition of happiness is, I bet you will receive 10 different answers.
Before haters jump all over me, let me tell you about my personal story a little bit.
I actually grew-up poor. My parents were considered as low-income class. They didn’t have any money besides to pay for their bills, and even that was difficult at times. My parents were also terrible with managing the little they had.
They had no long-term vision or planning skills. Saving was a foreign concept to them. Growing-up I certainly did not wear designer clothes or vacationed in exotic, far-away places, unlike some of my friends and classmates.
YES, the lack of money can be a source of stress…
So yes, the lack of money was stressful and bothersome in my family. But it is actually not what made me unhappy at times. For the most part, I would say I was happy growing-up. What actually made me unhappy had absolutely nothing to do with money. I will stop there with my childhood memories. There are many things I do not wish to share online.
…but having money does not automatically equate happiness either
Fast forward a few decades later, I reached that $75K mark. I didn’t necessarily feel happier to a greater extent, although it sure was nice to be able to save for retirement, pay for my bills and vacation in exotic, far-away places.
Except that, for me to be fully happy, I needed something else. Something that has nothing to do with money, and that money actually cannot buy.
Recently, I decided to switch to part-time work. Working full-time was simply no longer sustainable for me. Doing so means a huge pay-cut and possible depletion of my savings. Guess what? I am happier now than when I was earning a full income.
attempting to define happiness
As mentioned above, everyone’s definition of happiness is different. I personally like the definition offered by Happiness International:
“Happiness is when your life fulfills your needs“.
Money is not the only need we have; not all our needs require money either.
It is probably more accurate to say that money can contribute to happiness to a certain extent. The Princeton study that started this post also revealed that people earning more than $75 000 per year did not report increased levels of happiness…..