why is it only yet another misunderstood tool
by Ashley Hamer, curiosity.com
March 18, 2017
We all know the tired cliché: “Money can’t buy you happiness.” But when you compare a Hollywood billionaire to someone who just got evicted from their apartment, the phrase starts to lose its meaning. Clearly, there’s a certain amount of money that can mean the difference between happiness and misery. But what amount is that? In 2010, researchers decided to find out, and their answer was pretty interesting.
Day to Day vs. Big Picture
For their study, which was published in the journal PNAS, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deacon differentiated between two types of happiness. The first they called emotional well-being, defined as a person’s day-to-day emotional experience — “the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant,” as the researchers put it. The second they called life evaluation, defined as the self-perception of one’s life as a whole.
To gauge people’s feelings on these two metrics, They analyzed 450,000 responses to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which is a daily survey of U.S. residents conducted by the Gallup Organization. The survey asked questions about things like how they were feeling yesterday and how they see life as a whole, in addition to basic demographic information such as gender, age, and income. Questions about emotional experiences were things like “Did you feel stress during a lot of the day yesterday?” and “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?” Life assessment, meanwhile, required people to imagine a ladder with numbered rungs — rung 0 at the bottom, representing the worst possible life, and rung 10 at the top, representing the best. The survey then asked, “On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”
Pennies From Heaven
Here’s what they found: When it comes to emotional well-being, money certainly does buy happiness — but only to a point. The more money you make, the more your day-to-day happiness improves until you hit around $75,000 per year. After that, the improvement levels off. That means someone who makes $150,000 per year isn’t likely to have a significantly happier day than someone making $75k. But when it comes to life evaluation? That’s a whole different ballgame. No matter their income bracket, people who make more money have a more favorable evaluation of their own life as a whole. The study concluded that “high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.”
Why is this? Kahneman and Deacon have some ideas. “Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone,” they write. It could be that once you have enough to weather the storms that head your way, it doesn’t matter how much extra you make — your day-to-day life is pretty much stable. But, the researchers note, it’s generally recognized that overall life evaluation is tied to your level of education, which in turn is tied to your income. In that way, the fact that money can buy you a positive assessment of your life makes sense. Maybe it’s time we all asked for a raise.
in other words: yes money definitely buys happiness for the vast majority of people! but higher than 75k income, in this american average study, it only buys satisfaction. and, so, there’s clearly more to happiness than just money. because those few fortunate ones who went over 75k could statistically prove it to us, even though it’s still very satisfying to keep earning more.
now… i can safely say that for a single person (yes, of all ages, an average for the whole life), that number could actually be around 14k. at most. at the very most/worst! and the only reason i came up with this number is because i myself lived very happily with less than 10k, but i would say there’s margin for improvement in my case. not sure how much exactly, though. what does this tell you?
to me, it means that the developed world culture is probably ill both in only being able to find happiness after that huge amount of money, and in still finding satisfaction with more accumulation. more and more power! that’s exactly what could be changed for a more balanced world… or would it be a more just world? in the later case, i would drop this whole paragraph idea from my religion.
reality isn’t made to be filled with justice. and it’s actually already perfectly balanced! it’s all always a matter of finding internal harmony. always.
take what’s good for you and move on. although, first, be absolute sure that it is good for you and don’t fool yourself!
because we can easily fall into the trap of selfishly rejoicing from looking around and seeing people in apparently much worse situation than ours and think “wow, my life isn’t so bad after all”. very dangerous exercise. it leads to a lack of empathy that forgets how much better we can feel and become once we actually help each other and simply stop being sorry for ourselves, no matter what!
capitalism is the accumulation of money. and there’s a balance to it. my number to the world today is “14k income, at most”. dig into tamera, live a humble life style, and try to understand why. i’d bet you’ll be much happier, if i had any capital for such things… 😁😆 yet, here i am, being my time, hoping these words will reach you in good time and be of some use. granted, it’s not just for you… i take pleasure just in writing this. helps me organising the ideas in my head. but, still… i could do it privately. or share only with friends. and not risk looking stupid in public. it’s not such a low bet.
instead of fearing the always imminent possibility of descapitalisation (or losing capital), embrace it with joy. spending money consciously can bring this easing emotion. take it as if it will happen sooner or later and use this beautiful resource given to you by your amazing luck of being born in the right place to give back and forgive this financial and cultural war that started so long ago nobody even knows anymore why we are fighting so much.
and if you ever succeed in balancing this all out, please let us know how!