It's an old saying that has been proven true by recent research: money cant buy happiness. It might seem that happiness comes from winning lotto or making a billion dollars, but a focus on life's less financial goals has shown to be better at providing happiness than money.
Researcher Richard Easterlin, an economist at the University of California, notes that according to the "psychological view of happiness", each individual is born with their own setpoint for happiness that's determined by personality and genetics. Life events, such as marriage, loss of a job, and serious injury or disease, can temporarily raise or lower a person's level of happiness above or below this predetermined level, but they will eventually return to the original level.
The economic "more is better view of happiness" argues that life circumstances and the growth of income have lasting effects on happiness. People assume that more income, comfort, and material goods will make them happier, but don’t realise that adaptation and social comparison will come into play and raise their aspirations to about the same extent as their actual gains, which leaves them feeling no happier than before.
Easterlin comments that happiness found through family life and personal health is affected much less by heightened expectations and social comparison than happiness sought through financial gains.
"As a result, most individuals spend a disproportionate amount of their lives working to make money, and sacrifice family life and health," writes Easterlin. "Hence, a reallocation of time in favor of family life and health would, on average, increase individual happiness," Easterlin concludes.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aug. 25, 2003
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