Skip to main content

Now It's A Fact: Money Doesn't Buy Happiness - Forbes

Those who study the link between cash and contentment come up with much the same answer -- and a few surprises about why income matters at all. - By Matthew Herper, Forbes.

It's official: Money can't buy happiness.

Sure, if a person is handed $10, the pleasure centers of his brain light up as if he were given food, sex or drugs. But that initial rush does not translate into long-term pleasure for most people. Surveys have found virtually the same level of happiness between the very rich individuals on the Forbes 400 and the Maasai herdsman of East Africa. Lottery winners return to their previous level of happiness after five years. Increases in income just don't seem to make people happier -- and most negative life experiences likewise have only a small impact on long-term satisfaction.

The relationship between money and happiness is pretty darned small,
says Peter Ubel, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.

That's not to say that increased income doesn't matter at all. There is a very small correlation between wealth and happiness -- accounting for about 1% of the happiness reported by people answering surveys. And for some groups, that relationship may be considerably bigger. People who are poor seem to get much happier when their monetary prospects improve, as do the very sick. In these cases, Ubel speculates, people may be protected from negative circumstances by the extra cash. Another possibility is that the money brings an increase in status, which may have a greater impact on happiness.

Reality differs greatly from fantasy

Why doesn't wealth bring a constant sense of joy?

Part of the reason is that people aren't very good at figuring out what to do with the money,
says George Loewenstein, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University. People generally overestimate the amount of long-term pleasure they'll get from a given object.

Sometimes, Loewenstein notes, the way people spend their money can actually make them less happy. For example, people derive a great deal of pleasure from interacting with others. If the first thing lottery winners do is quit their job and move to a palatial but isolated estate where they don't see any neighbors, they could find themselves isolated and depressed.

Other trophies simply don't bring the payoff one expects. Says Loewenstein,
If you're a single male driving around in the Ferrari with nobody next to you, it's a glaring omission.
The central problem is that the human brain becomes conditioned to positive experiences. Getting a chunk of unexpected money registers as a good thing, but as time passes, the response wears off. An expected paycheck doesn't bring any buzz at all -- and doesn't contribute to overall happiness. You can get used to anything, be it hanging by your toenails or making millions of dollars a day. Mood may be set more by heredity than by anything else: Studies of twins have shown that at least half a person's level of happiness may be determined by some of the genes that play a role in determining personality.

No highs without lows

But this raises another question. How important is happiness, anyway? People with chronic illnesses describe themselves as happy, but they would still pay large sums for better health. And although healthy individuals are not much happier than quadriplegics, they would pay large sums of money to keep the use of their limbs. Some of life's most satisfying experiences don't bring happiness. For instance, having children actually makes people less happy over the short term -- but that doesn't necessarily mean we should stop procreating.
I think it's possible to way overestimate the importance of happiness,
says Loewenstein.
Part of the meaning of life is to have highs and lows. A life that was constantly happy was not a good life.

However, there may be at least one important relationship between money and happiness, according to Ed Diener, the University of Illinois researcher who surveyed the Forbes 400 and the Maasai. Diener has also written that happy people tend to have higher incomes later on in their lives. So, while money may not help make people happy, being happy may help them make money.


Popular posts from this blog

An Urban Legend

Reading online threads, blogs, testimonials, analysis and historical accounts about the fate of Fray Diego de Herrera and the crew of galleon Espiritu Santo leads me to conclude it as an urban legend. The characters are factual but the story was distorted, exaggerated and sensationalized. Here is another version about the fate of Fray Diego de Herrera written by Fray Juan de Medina, O.S.A. in 1630 but printed in Manila in 1983. Please read... "In these early years a disaster befalls the Augustinians, and somewhat dashes their hopes. This is the death of Diego de Herrera with ten priests who are coming, six from Spain and four from Mexico, to augment the missionary efforts. Of the thirty-six priests obtained by Herrera on his mission to Spain, but six set sail for the Philippines. The four from Mexico who join them are: Francisco Martinez, of the chair of writing in the University of Mexico, an excellent Greek and Latin student, who had been prior of the Augustinian convent in …

Philippine Mining Act of 1995

With the recent issue of magnetite ore mining overwhemingly opposed by residents in the town of Bagamanoc and recently moved the mining site off the coast of Panganiban (Payo), I am compelled to post this Mining Act to serve as reference. "Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (“Act”) is the governing law that regulates mineral resources development in the country. One of the primary objectives of this act is to revitalize the ailing Philippine mining industry by providing fiscal reforms and incentives and maintaining a viable inventory of mineral reserves to sustain the industry through the infusion of fresh capital through direct investments to finance mineral exploration and/or development activities. The original implementing rules and regulations of the Act was prepared in 1995, and was revised in 1996 under DENR Administrative Order 96 – 40, the revised implementing rules and regulations (RIRR). Collectively, the Act and its RIRR take into considerat…

Pantomina Lyrics And Music

Pantomina is Spanish for pantomime, movements imitating the courtship movements of the rooster and the hen. Ang mga babaye
Kung mayo pa nin agom
Maugay nin aga maugay nin hapon
Alagad kung sinda igua na nin agom
Maugay Octobre, Disyembreng sunudon. Ica palan, Nenang ang pinagsasabi
Magayon na burac sa lugar na ini
Magayon ang tindog malinig ang pisngi
Arin pa daw ang puso ang dai mawili. Can ica sadit pa sadit pa man aco
Si satuyang cawat magkudot-kudotan
Kinudot mo aco kinudot ta ca man
Sabi mo sa saco luhayluhaya man. Ang mga lalake
Hudyan sisaboot
Ang pinagsasabing ngarang pagcamoot
Kundi ang babayeng iyo minahilod
Akong minahiling can mga pangguyod.