Turns Out Money Might Actually Buy You Happiness
Of all the things I read on the Interwebs this morning, this headline was my favorite: “Money Matters To Happiness — Perhaps More Than Previously Thought.”
To which my only response was, I really need to get into academia so I too can study the glaringly obvious and be paid for it.
In fact, I’ve known the truth of that headline since somebody gave me a cartoon date book in my twenties that pointed out this very fact. I can’t remember the picture, but I’ve never forgotten the punchline: “Gary knew that money couldn’t buy happiness, but he was also learning that happiness couldn’t buy money.”
Multiple studies, 33,000 participants, and “1.7 million data points” later, Wharton School researcher Matthew Killingsworth has found…
Wait for it…
“Money does influence happiness.”
Personally, I think happiness is more tied to one’s ability to get or afford health insurance (and I KNOW one’s health outcomes are tied to that as well), but I have been annoyed by the very American (code for “person who has been marinating in the national myth that we are NOT a society with a very distinct class structure”) idea that people can certainly be happy and healthy with a lot less money than people in the upper 20% of wealth classes have. What’s the median income for people in that income class (as of 2016)? $187,872.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s right — Ask everyone in that group to write a $100,000 check to a food bank this year. Then see how happy they are.
Let’s salute this study, this earth-shattering finding that money actually does have a huge impact on your mental and physical health, and start to do away with the myth that you should be able to get by on less and be happy doing so. And while we’re at it? Here’s a few other myths we should stop believing:
- That it’s still possible in America to pull yourself up by your bootstraps no matter what your socioeconomic status at birth;
- That raising the federal minimum wage will bankrupt all business and destroy the fabric of the country;
- That if you just do what you love and are good at, the money will follow.
To name just a few.
I hope this is the beginning of a new era in American history. I’m not holding my breath, though, because this is what I know about people like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett: They look pretty happy. I don’t see them or their corporations changing their techniques any time soon, regardless of what the political leadership in this country does.