Happiness is Not $100,000

The Atlantic reports that a study done in 2010 found that while money can buy happiness if it’s lifting you out of worrying about bills into not worrying (which they defined as $75,000 or about $92,000 in today’s money) after that, it doesn’t make much difference to general contentment; another more recent study showed that more money after $100,000 doesn’t do much for your happiness. I’ve found this to be generally true depending on where I live; years ago as a single mother with lousy child support, every damn bill was a stress and I routinely priced out my grocery list before I went to the store and several times took a second job. And then my books began to make money and suddenly, paying bills wasn’t agony, I just wrote the checks. I went to the grocery with a list, but I could impulse things. I had a savings account for sudden disasters. I stopped doing a running calculus of how to manage money (although some things still stick: Every time the power goes off, I think, “Did I pay that bill?”). I wasn’t rich, but I was secure, and according to that study, secure was better than rich.

So how do you get happy after you hit security? According to that study, people. Connecting with people, having experiences with people, doing things for people. Share a meal or a vacation with people you love, pay people to do work you don’t want to do (thus freeing yourself and helping them achieve security), give to a charity you trust so you know you’re helping people. It’s people, not money; money just makes it easier to be with people.

Or, you know, start a blog so you can talk with smart, funny, kind people every week. Argh makes me happy; thank you all for showing up.

What made you happy this week?