Money Buys You Happiness Until Work Gets in the Way
Make no mistake: money can buy you happiness. The problem is that many high-salaried Americans overwork themselves to the point where no amount of cash could improve your mood.
There's an interesting piece in the New York Times today about whether America's wealthiest citizens are really its happiest. The article's author, J. Peder Zane, evokes classic characters from America's storytelling oeuvre -- Jay Gatsby, Charles Foster Kane, Tony Soprano -- in describing the rigidly American belief that "the golden road is paved with misery." But is it true that people become less happy with the more they make?
The answer is simultaneously yes and no. Here's how Zane explains:
"Make no mistake, it is better to be rich than poor — psychologically as well as materially. Levels of depression, anxiety and stress diminish as incomes rise. What has puzzled researchers is that the psychological benefits of wealth seem to stop accruing once people reach an income of about $75,000 a year."
So money helps to a certain point. In investigating why that is, Zane queried several researchers in the fields of sociology and business. The "main culprit," according to his sources, is the demand for extra work:
"Twenty-five percent of all salaried workers said they worked at least 60 hours per week, according to a Gallup poll from August. Fifty percent said they worked at least 50 hours a week, compared with 26 percent of hourly workers. These numbers may be lower than reality as the rise of technology, especially cellphones, email and social media, means many people are never really off the clock."
It's important to remember that up until about the mid-20th century, a considerable chunk of the world's wealth was inherited. Thus, the leisurely attitudes we associate with great wealth (think Downton Abbey) were reserved for folks who didn't work. These people had the time to lead leisurely lives.
It wasn't until the 1960s that a more rigid meritocracy took shape and the pathway to wealth was rebuilt upon education and advancement. And in order to constantly pursue "advancement," the wealthy tend to always be working, or, as Zane writes, they fill their leisure time with obligations. Thus, stress and anxiety result.
Zane's article (linked again below) features tips for those who wish to maintain wealth without slipping into an unending work routine. He also interviews experts who explain that pursuing status is a Sisyphean endeavor that rarely leads to satisfaction. So in conclusion, money can buy you happiness as long as you remember not to purposefully keep yourself unhappy.
Whether money can buy you love, we'll just let the Fab Four answer that.
Read more at the New York Times
Image credit: Dooder / Shutterstock
In the following clip, the Pew Research Center's Andrew Kohut tells you not to believe the hype -- rich people are indeed happier:
These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.
We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.
Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
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