Hey. Guess what. Science finally snooped around and tried to figure out if money actually equals happiness. And guess what – it doesn’t. Mostly. Sort of. Let me break it down for you.
- There Is A Money VS Happiness Drop Off
So, just straight up having money can make you happier – but only to a certain point. According to Time Magazine, the happiness to money ratio drops off at a yearly income of $50,000. After you hit the $50,000 mark, it doesn’t matter how much higher your income goes, your happiness based on money won’t rise with it.
- Things Don’t Increase Your Base-Level Happiness
Everybody is born with a certain disposition. To put it in terms of Winnie the Pooh because I am an utter child, some people are Tigger and some are Eeyore. That changes slightly over your life – things like quality of relationships, income (up to the $50,000 mark,) work satisfaction and a plethora of other factors.
But the fact remains that you have a base happiness level, and whatever good or bad events confront you throughout life, Tiggers will always be Tiggers and Eeyores will always be Eeyores.
Often people assume they can change their base happiness level with money – by buying a pool or a car or an entire zoo. But things cannot increase your base happiness level. Your new car is great, until a couple months later when it’s just your car. Your pool is the best thing that has ever happened to you, until you’re stuck cleaning it all the time and don’t even use it that often.
A beautiful new house won’t make you any happier than the one you just left, because sooner or later it’s not a shiny new house anymore. It’s just your house.
However, you can use money to increase your base level happiness if you know how…
- Having A Lot of Experiences Raises Your Base Happiness
If you have excess money and you need to spend it somewhere, hold off on that car and go on an adventure with someone you love. Or on your own. Or go out with friends, or go to a concert.
Experiences will increase how happy you are at any given time. That’s a little counter-intuitive, I know, because if you buy that new car you’ll have it for years but your vacation would be over in a couple weeks or that concert will end in an hour.
But that’s not how our brains process things. When you buy a car, after a while it loses it’s luster and just becomes your car. The thrill of a car only lasts a few months. A vacation or a great concert, or time spent with friends – those last your whole life. By that I mean, you can keep those memories forever. Memories get better over time – your brain edits out the bad parts and keeps the bits that made you happy. And you can tell stories, which brings more happiness by contributing to social situations. Each time you replay the memory of things you did, they become more embellished and amazing, whereas everytime you look at your car, it’s less and less exciting.
As cheesey as it sounds, you’re overall life satisfaction will increase due to time spent with people, doing things that you can look back on, rather than buying that sweet lava lamp you’ve been eyeing.
- Give Your Money Away
I am dead serious. You worked really, really hard to get the salary you have, and now I’m asking you to give it away? That’s right. First of all, as we’ve established, anything above $50,000 isn’t much use to you anyway, and secondly, altruism is one of the fastest and easiest way to boost up your level of happiness. Some people have even argued that the dopamine (pleasure chemical) spike in our brain when we perform a selfless act is comparable to that of a hit of cocaine.
Again, if you donate to charity instead of getting that cool new car, you’ll feel better about yourself and your worth as a person. Giving money away to help others is truly the best way you can possibly spend it if you have some extra.