Money Can’t Buy Happiness – Or Can It?

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People would normally think that money would magically make you happy. While that’s true to a certain extent, if you’re unhappy when you’re poor, it’s more than likely that you’re also going to be unhappy if you ever do get rich.

As somebody who has been poor at some time and has also been financially comfortable at other times, I know that with more money come more problems, responsibility and stress that can actually take away your happiness.

In 2010, Princeton University did a study that measured if money is really correlated with happiness. The study found out that happiness does actually increase with money, but only up to a certain exact dollar amount per year.

As much as it is interesting to analyze what that exact magical number is that makes you happy as is, it is first important to understand the difference between what people think will make them happy and what actually makes them happy. These two factors are surprisingly very different from each other, and most people don’t really know that.

According to James Wallman, there are 7 main types or causes of happiness. He wrote about these in his book, Time and How to Spend It: The 7 Rules for Richer, Happier Days.


1. Story

Everyone loves a good story, such as Harry Potter or Infinity War. The most admired stories are often where a hero goes through some kind of a struggle, then overcomes that obstacle and comes out victorious in the end. This is the same in people’s lives. That’s why storytelling over the years has been such a popular pastime, whether it is through books, Netflix, or the Internet and blogs. Human beings simply love stories, which is why stories bring about happiness and transformation.


2. Transformation

Everyone loves when somebody transforms from something that was less to something that is more. It could be a transformation regarding weight loss, social network, financial status, general health, or anything else that forms a major part of our lives. If you can transform your less productive habits into more productive routines, you will see that over time you will not only become a lot more successful, but you will also be happy along the way.


3. Outside and Offline

This is a pretty obvious one. Outside and offline basically means getting rid of your cellphone for a while. People have become so addicted to social media, to their phones, to text messages, and to all the different kinds of instant notifications that they don’t take out time to go out and see the world or nature anymore. When was the last time you went on a hike, or anywhere without your mobile phone? That is indeed one of the best ways to happiness, according to James Wallman – to go completely offline.

This does not mean though that you ignore all your responsibilities, or suddenly get unwired from your business or your job. It just means that you can plan ahead for a vacation once in a while, by asking for a leave from your boss, or hiring more staff to cover for you while you’re gone if you’re running a company. It’s actually easier to be constantly connected to your cellphone 24/7 than to really go offline once every few months. But if you can do that, it would create much more happiness for you, as you will be able to be present in the moment with your family and friends during the vacation.


4. Relationships

Human beings are social creatures by nature. Hence, one of the best ways to become happier as a person is to have a relationship with your friends, colleagues, partners, spouse or family in general. There are so many different sayings and idioms that have been made over the years to emphasize this. Forming true relationships with your loved ones is probably the truest way to find fulfillment in life.


5. Intensity

Intensity here refers to really going all out on your goals. My personal experience with my business or with things that I have wanted to do as a person is that I always like to go in with full intensity. I don’t like to tiptoe into things, as that doesn’t give me much motivation or happiness. For instance, I had been contributing as a ghostwriter to many publications for a couple of years, and my clients were paying me for my writings in exchange for ownership of the articles. Even though that was some good money I made with my ‘guest posts’, I started craving for author attribution. I started wanting to have my name out there on my articles. So I decided to start my own publication site. I knew that this would be a time-consuming job with little or no income for the first few months, but I went into it full steam. Since this work was making me happy, I was able to publish more and more articles, and was able to drive some traffic to my blog within the very first month.

Not trying to sell anything here, but if you’d like to have a look at my blog, you can view it here.

In short, being intense about whatever you do has a way of making you happy. When you put in your full energy into something, your goal will be clear in your head, boosting up your spirit to try to achieve it every single day.


6. Extraordinary

This is also a good one to me. Everyone likes to be extraordinary. Nobody wishes to be average or just ordinary. So if you can be extraordinary at something, it will give you a feeling of being important. It will make you feel that you are not just part of the status quo, which in turn make you happier about yourself.


7. Status and Significance

People love to feel like they have a high status. Everybody likes to feel significant. Feeling lonely, unworthy, insignificant or unloved is amongst the worst feelings you can ever have.

One way to achieve status and significance is through money. But surprisingly enough, money itself is not on the list of the 7 things that truly make people happy.

Why is that?

According to numerous studies, money is simply not enough to make us happy. Money in itself does not bring us happiness. But what money allows us to do in terms of freedom of time, freedom of experiences, or not having to worry about bills to pay, is what makes us happy. Money is very boring on its own, but the way we get to use it or the experiences we are able to have due it can make us happy.


So to reveal the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this post, let’s recap that there is a magical figure or amount of money that can make you happy. That figure, according to the study conducted by Princeton University, is $75,000 a year. This means if you make $76,000 in a year, you will not get any happier than you would be if you made $75,000 in that year. You might even get sadder due to the added obligations and stress that extra money would bring in your life.

Thus if you’re an entrepreneur and you wish to become the next billionaire, maybe you need to sit back and think whether or not that would really give you happiness beyond a certain point. On average, the answer to that question is no.

Sana Uqaili

Sana Uqaili is a professional content creator and a strategic marketing adviser, who started off as a freelance copywriter and pass time blogger, and ended up offering her services as a full-fledged business in early 2019. Her ghostwriting contributions and digital marketing tactics have enhanced the Google rankings of various publications and corporate websites. Her passion for writing peaked in late 2019, when she started this site called Opinined. In 2020, she also started podcasting from her home during quarantine, and was able to gain great traction on her podcast channel during the global lockdown.

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