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Can $75,000 buy happiness?

[ 7 ] September 21, 2010 |
Anton - happiness

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People have said for years that money can’t buy happiness. Well, I guess the joke’s on us! According to a recent study, actually, $75,000 a year can buy happiness.

At least, that’s what all the news stories are saying. If you read more carefully, though, that’s not really what it said. What it actually said was that people’s happiness increases with their income, but only up to $75,000. Lower than that, and people spend a lot of energy worrying about keeping their needs met. But once people have enough to meet their needs, more may give them a greater feeling of success, but it doesn’t actually make them happier.

I think that’s an important point. Many people spend their whole lives worrying about money, trying to get more, and thinking if they only had more, they’d be happy. But how many people do you know who ever get to that point? Have you ever heard anyone say, “There! I finally have enough money, and now I’m happy!” I sure haven’t.

So, what if you already make $75,000 or more and still aren’t happy? Or what if you’re in a career where you’ll never make that?

As far as money goes, the secret to having enough is to need less than you have. It’s simple, though not easy. It’s also kind of beside the point. Money and possessions aren’t what makes us happy. A few of them can bring a lot of joy (my short list includes my Miata, my spinning wheel, my camera, and my kayak), but happiness requires more than that. I think the most important thing is being in harmony with yourself. I’ve had more money, less money, more stuff, less stuff, fancy house, cheap house… none of it really changed how happy I was. The only two things that have really changed my happiness level are how much free time I have, and how much my life is in keeping with who I truly am.

So if you want to be happy, here’s my advice.

  • Find a way to get more free time. Work on that to-quit list!
  • Figure out what’s most important to you, and focus your energy on that.
  • Seek out ways to bring more joy into your life. Is there a favorite hobby you’ve been neglecting? A loved one you’ve been missing? A beautiful place you could spend some time in quiet contemplation?

Think about what you wish your life was like. If it helps, imagine what you’d do if you won $10 million in the lottery. What would you do? How would you spend your days? What would your life look like? Then find ways to reshape your life to be that way as much as possible. Unless your dream is to sit around eating bonbons all day every day (not that I’m knocking bonbons, but wouldn’t that get boring after awhile?), what you really want to do is probably in reach if you’re creative enough. It’s your life–go for it!

About Cara Stein: I'm a writer and dreamer with a PhD in self-reinvention. (Or was that computer science?) Whether you're stuck, lost, or just looking to enjoy your life more, I want to help because I've been there!

Comments (7)

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  1. great post! It’s so true that we need to find other ways to be happy other than money. Thank you so much for your sweet comment on my blog today! :) xo-kimberly renee

  2. thanks for stopping by my blog too. love the way you have with words and the to-quit list idea really resonated with me today. funny how we never think of that!

  3. Al says:

    Right on… And I do mean that both literally anad figuratively!

    How’s this for a Galileo-inspired view of the correlation — the happiest people are best fit for careers and life stages at whioch one typically makes about $75,000 a year. In lower paying jobs, their excessive happiness is taken as a psychotic separation from reality and therefore a sign of a very unstable and undesirable employee, while at higher pay scales it is taken as a lck of the seriousness and mental focus needed to perform as appropritae to the higher compensation. Therefore, if there is a causal relationship at all, it may be that a happy life leads to a 75 kilobuck income rather than the 75k income leading to a happy life.

    The Galileo connection: earning power revolves around happiness, not the other way around. I.e. Earning power is to Earth and Happiness is to Sun.

    Cheers!
    @

  4. […] posts: The Number One Shortcut to Enjoying Life More Can $75,000 buy happiness? How Unhappiness Works–and How to Beat […]

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