Why Money Won't Bring You Happiness

My recent return to social media has brought me face to face with news from an outside world that I had forgotten. I endure a daily onslaught of people talking about what is apparently the most important topics on the American mind - making money, sex, beauty, and politics.

There are also a whole lot of people who haven't yet learned why money won't bring you happiness.

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What the Science Says

In an article called "Beyond Money: Toward an Economy of Well-Being", psychologists Ed Diener and Martin E. Seligman report that the Maasai, Inuit of northern Greenland, and the wealthiest Americans are scored the same despite the Maasai and Inuit being among the world's poorest people.

This is echoed in the World Values Survey published by New Scientist magazine which found that Nigerians are the happiest people on earth, despite 60% of them living below the poverty line.

Rounding out the top five are Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, Mexicans, and Salvadorans. In terms of the world's wealth, they rank at 163rd, 63rd, 64th, and 101st, respectively. 

So What Gives? 

Once our basic needs are fulfilled, money has very little to do with a sense of fulfillment. The well-being of individuals has more to do with social relationships, healthy workplaces, and positive mental health. While the well-being of societies has to do with social capital, democratic governance, and human rights.

What Does This Mean for Us?

It could mean that individuals might create more meaningful lives if we upgrade our social intelligence, make friends with our neighbors, invest in our families, and cultivate our romantic relationships.

It could suggest that our companies and governments spend as much time looking out for the workers as much as they do the profit margins. After all, there is so much evidence happy workers create healthy, thriving businesses.

It's your life. Knowing that money only makes the top American earners as happy as the Maasi and Puerto Ricans who have so little money, how do want to spend it?


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