Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

What Do You Need to Be Happy?

When a University of Michigan survey asked people what they believe would improve their quality of life and make them happy, the answer given most often was “more money.”

In the book “The Day America Told the Truth,” James Patterson and Peter Kim asked, “If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?” The No. 1 response, at 64 percent, was “greater wealth.”

More recently, a University of Southern California study found that greater wealth didn’t translate into greater happiness for many of the 1,500 participants surveyed annually over three decades. USC economist Richard Easterlin said, “Many people are under the illusion that the more money we make, the happier we’ll be,” but, according to the study, that isn’t true.

We know from other well-respected studies that fewer Americans are “very happy” today than in the 1950s despite having far more money, bigger homes and more stuff. According to Statista, there were 3,000 shopping malls in this country in 1950, and by 2010 there were 107,773. We have more money, and we have more stuff, but clearly, greater affluence has not translated to greater happiness.

Are there any circumstances under which more money will bring happiness? The truth is that if you are living in poverty, having more money will make a positive difference in your quality of life, and, yes, you will be happier. But once your basic material needs are met, many experts agree that having more money might be nice but is not likely to make you a lot happier, if at all.

The problem is that most of us just don’t know what we really believe about money. We can’t live with it, but we can’t live without it either. We think that more of it will fix all of our problems even though we prove month after month that we aren’t very good at managing what we already have.

A recent gathering around the water cooler at Cheapskate Central (aka my office) stirred up some provoking conversation. One person suggested that we have a confusion of terms. When people say they want happiness, what they’re really looking for is contentment — that feeling of satisfaction that does not go away once the carpet is a few months old, the car has lost its newness or the holidays are over. He went on to suggest that happiness is the result of a “happening,” and when the event is over, the happiness goes away, too. The contentment we seek comes with satisfaction and fulfillment that are not tied to specific events but rather based upon things that do not change like warm family relationships, connecting to God and expressions of sincere gratitude.

I think our water cooler philosopher is really on to something. If nothing else, he certainly made all of us think.

So where do you weigh in on this subject? In your heart, do you believe that more money would make you happier? How much would it take to make you really happy? Or have you discovered a source of true contentment and found it is not tied to money?

Support Conservative Daily News with a small donation via Paypal or credit card that will go towards supporting the news and commentary you've come to appreciate.

Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Related Articles

Back to top button