FAIRBANKS — Does money result in happiness? Of course not. But just give me a few million and I’ll be happy to report back to you if it works. Though we might doubt that money and happiness go hand in hand, recent research has given us some information to consider on this idea.
In a recent study from University of Michigan, researchers found that there is a relationship between money and happiness. The researchers found that the wealthier people are, the more satisfied they are with their lives. But there seems to be a point where the happiness levels off.
People who don’t have enough money to meet their basic needs are under stress and often report they are unhappy. As incomes go up, people begin to report a higher level of happiness — until incomes reach a level of $75,000. After that, more money doesn’t mean more happiness. So, moving yourself up the economic ladder a few rungs will increase your happiness, but there is a point of diminishing return.
Recent research done at San Francisco State University tells us that perhaps happiness can be purchased. What effect does your purchase have on your happiness? It all depends on your mind-set and your values.
To beat down the shopping and spending bug, we are often told to think long and hard about what we are buying. Make sure the purchases you make are things that you need and want. But does that purchase bring you happiness?
When we talk about the things we spend money on that make us happy, often the advice is to spend your money on life experiences rather than material goods. When you purchase an experience, it is assumed that you will be happier. A trip around the world, a visit to a famous museum or a visit to a landmark may bring you a great deal of happiness. Or it may leave you with buyer’s regret. What determines whether buying an experience makes you happy or not is whether it fits within your values.
Think about how you usually spend money. Do you enjoy a trip to the baseball park? How about taking your family on vacation? Or, do you enjoy the thrill of beating everyone else to a great deal on an expensive pair of shoes?
The fact is that when we purchase what we value, it makes us happy. If you are a baseball fan, spending money on the experience of taking your family to the park honors your values. It follows that you would be happy with the purchase of the life experience. It fits within your value system.
If you are a person that shops for items, purchasing a trip for the family doesn’t match your value system. A trip to the ball park, though it might be enjoyable, is just another purchase. You are far more likely to be happy if you purchase an item, something that you value.
So when it comes to happiness and money, remember that more money earned doesn’t always result in more happiness, and purchasing anything will bring you happiness only when it is something you value.