In 2010, researchers at Princeton University released findings from a two-year study that looked into the correlation between happiness and wealth. In hopes of answering the age old question ‘Can money buy happiness?’ Princeton economist Angus Deaton and Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman analyzed nearly 500,000 Gallup poll surveys responses, about personal well-being, to determine the relationship between salary compensation and levels of life-satisfaction. The duo’s findings suggest that levels of personal well-being are affected by the amount of income that an individual makes each year, but not in ways that you may anticipate.
The researchers based the study on the assumption that there are two different ways that an individual’s happiness could be affected by their income. The first is day-to-day emotional well-being and the second is a sense of contentment about the direction of an individual’s life. The report tells us that while levels of monetary compensation affect the latter type of happiness, it has little effect on day-to-day well-being. Furthermore, because the levels of life satisfaction had little variance for anyone who made over $75,000 a year, the researchers were able to determine that earning anything above this mark wouldn’t result in higher levels of personal well-being.
At the deepest level of ourselves, we all share the exact same desire to find lasting happiness. Unfortunately, many of us falsely presume that chasing enormous paychecks, material wealth, and social status will lead us there. In reality, however, the only way to find true fulfillment is by pursuing it through different means. While money is important for financial security and flexibility, it shouldn’t be your primary objective in life. If you are determined to find true happiness, it is clear that chasing millions isn’t the answer.
The Opinions of Economic Experts:
It was in 1934 when American economist Simon Kuznets built upon the work of past economic experts to develop the modern concept of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The mathematically based theory is used to measure the health of a given country’s economy by adding together the total amount of goods and services produced over a particular period of time. When Kuznets presented his enhanced version of the GDP concept to the United States Congress, he made a point to dispel the notion that the economic welfare of a country, or an individual, would be a good indicator of well-being. He wrote:
Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income.”
More recently, renowned British economist Richard Layard advocated for governments around the world to move away from relying solely on the GDP to measure the well-being of citizens in favor of an alternative scale that measures happiness. Layered is quoted as saying:
There is a paradox at the heart of our lives. Most people want more income and strive for it. Yet as Western societies have got richer, their people have become no happier.”
Since Layard initially campaigned for a new measurement tool, the British government, heeding his advice, began measuring the national well-being of its citizens using a separate scale composed of 41 different variables.
Why Millions Will Never be the Answer:
While economic well-being certainly provides individuals with the benefits of security and flexibility, it shouldn’t be considered an adequate measurement of personal well-being and happiness.
It was in 2012 when the United Nations (UN) began publishing an annual report that looks into the happiness of citizens from different countries, and the measurements used by the UN show how variables besides money play a significant role in personal well-being. The World Happiness Report uses not only GDP to measure happiness, but also life components such as social support, healthy living, freedom, and generosity. To find the fulfillment that you are truly after, you will have to begin prioritizing other life objectives equally to, if not greater than, money and work.
Another major reason why chasing millions isn’t an adequate solution, to help you find the levels of happiness that you are after, revolves around the impermanent nature of reality. The ever-changing quality of life assures us that the wealth and material possessions we accumulate will eventually be taken from us. More importantly, if you examine the truth of impermanence at the everyday level, you will find that the positive emotional, psychological, and physical feelings that you crave, always come and go like the waves of the ocean.
Still today, however, it is all too common to find wealth-starved individuals who tell themselves that they will stop being consumed by work and wealth after reaching a certain financial plateau or buying the newest material toy, only to get there and not feel satisfied. Individuals who prioritize continuous financial growth and material wealth, over more fulfilling objectives, paradoxically keep themselves from reaching the state of well-being that they are actively seeking.
While an adequate amount of money can add value to our lives, it alone cannot be the end all be all. To truly meet your deepest desire for lasting fulfillment, it is certain that chasing millions isn’t the answer.
What Are You Really After:
Each and every person that you know, including yourself, shares the exact same goal of finding unwavering levels of fulfillment. Instead of assuming that money will produce the levels of life satisfaction that you crave, it is imperative to shift your attention away from external acquisition in favor of internal exploration and growth. To find what you are truly after, you will have to move away from life-limiting monetary goals in favor of internal contentment and acceptance. By taking the time to get in touch with your true self, while also reflecting on the impermanent nature of everything, you will begin to understand what things are truly important in life.
Externally speaking, you can further shift your attention away from work and monetary gains in favor of more life-affirming activities. It is certain that at the deepest level of your being, you more greatly desire memorable experiences and meaningful relationships with others. If you want to live with enhanced feelings of personal well-being and happiness, it will be vital to develop and cultivate your most important relationships while also focusing on finding excitement in daily experiences that you will remember forever.
It is important for you to understand that when you focus solely on increasing your social status, improving your financial portfolio, and acquiring newer and better material things, you will only be able to find life satisfaction in short-term increments. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue a career passionately and vigorously, but you should know that you will never be able to find what you truly want by making money your primary objective. There are unquestionably more important elements in your life that you should prioritize over money, and these elements show exactly why chasing millions isn’t the answer.