What’s the key to true happiness? Is it money, is it love? Sex? Parties? Kids? Well, all of these can boost your happiness, but according to at least one study, what really keeps most of us going is money. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about other topics; it just means having enough money makes everything easier. Before you accuse us of making the overstatement of the century, take a look at what science has to say about just how much money you need.
Two professors from Princeton found people are generally at their happiest when their incomes are around $75,000, but people who earn more aren’t usually happier for it. This is because $75,000 marks a level of financial comfort that allows people to tackle hardships like severe illness or loss of a loved one without distraction, while poverty makes everything harder. It’s that buffer, that one lacking stressor, that can make or break how a person reacts to a given situation. Cash in on the facts in this expose.
How Much Money Do You Need to Be Happy? Here’s the Answer!
The Happiness Number
There is an optimal income for happiness, and according to two professors at Princeton University, it’s about $75,000. Professors Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman published a paper after analyzing 1000 Gallup poll surveys on income and happiness. They found that, while nearly 85 percent surveyed claimed to be happy with their lives, many of those happy people also reported varying degrees of sadness and worry. Participants making closest to $75,000 a year reported those feelings the least, while those the furthest below that number reported them the most.
What’s most interesting is not the degree of happiness reported, but the way money appeared to affect the people’s perceptions of certain life events, such as severe illness or a death in the family. According to the Princeton findings, people who earn $75,000 each year tend to feel the effects of various hardships less profoundly than those living less comfortably. This isn’t to say the rich don’t suffer the same feelings of grief and loss as the poor, only that they have more resources and security to get them through difficult times.
Above and Beyond?
You might expect people making $100,000 a year (or more) to have reported even greater relative happiness, but they didn’t. They did feel more content in their positions in life, but they weathered hardships no better than the $75,000 a year group. This is because money in itself isn’t what makes most people happy, but rather its ability to make life more comfortable. And while having ample money can take some of the sting out of terrible events, poverty often only adds salt to the wound.
Broke and Happy
Then why are some rich people miserable and some poverty-stricken people downright jovial? Well, personal temperament also goes a long way. The comfort of money (or lack thereof) can affect people differently, so there will always be outliers. The Princeton study offers a look at the general averages.
Money might not be the single key to happiness, but it does seem to help. How do your income and happiness levels compare? If you fall below that magic number, consider how you might increase it. Maybe it’s time to ask for a raise, rewrite your resume or take some online classes. You could be happier for it.