Aug 3, 2010

Bucko's Bucks - Can Money Make You Happy?

Money is surprisingly bad at making us happy. Once we escape the trap of poverty, levels of wealth have an extremely modest impact on levels of happiness, especially in developed countries.

Needless to say, this contradicts one of the central assumptions of modern society, which is that more money equals more pleasure. That’s why we work hard, fret about the stock market and save up for that expensive dinner/watch/phone/car/condo. We’ve been led to believe that dollars are delight in a fungible form.

But the statistical disconnect between money and happiness raises a fascinating question: Why doesn’t money make us happy?
A man who is given a drink of water after being lost in the Mojave Desert may at that moment rate his happiness as eight. A year later, the same drink might induce him to feel no better than a two.  This phenomena is called experience-stretching.

What does experience-stretching have to do with money and happiness? Because money allows us to enjoy the best things in life – we can stay at expensive hotels and eat exquisite sushi and buy the nicest gadgets – we actually decrease our ability to enjoy the mundane joys of everyday life (sunny days, cold beers, and chocolate bars).  And since most of our joys are mundane – we can’t sleep at the Ritz every night – our ability to splurge actually backfires. We try to treat ourselves, but we end up spoiling ourselves.

I say that happiness must come from within, and I can say that I am a happy person.  I absolutely can live with what I see in the mirror.  How about you?



  1. If money can buy happiness, how come there are people at or below the pverty level who are happy?
    I fall into the category of doesn't make you happy. It makes you more welthy, but if you aren't happy to begin with, it won't do the trick.

  2. I'm think I'm a happy person because I try to keep things in perspective. Balance is one of the keys to being happy, whether you've got money or not.

  3. Happiness comes from deep within... money can't buy it. Simple pleasures, like sitting in a car, by a lake and watching the herons is all the entertainment I need.

  4. I think that it is the PURSUIT of money, especially in abscence of other qualities, characteristics or pleasures, that leads money to make one unhappy.

    Finding your level and then being pleased with where you are at, is a key to being happy. It is amazing that people who have material wealth are ones most likely to be 'unhappy' than many who are less wealthy.

  5. I agree with Big Mark. It is the pursuit of money that makes one unhappy. Although my stock broker loves his job and enjoys making money for himself and other people. For him it is a fabulous game. I also love a great expensive meal at a restaurant. I am amazed at the art form it has become. Chefs work very hard at making the very best dishes. I appreciate good food. As well as great expensive handbags. But the food, the money all that stuff that comes with extra cash is no good if you aren't already happy. It is the company and your own serenity that can allow you to really enjoy the bounty. And I think we DON"T need all that much money to enjoy the bounty of clean water, clean air, food, a place to sleep, and medicine when we are ill.And perhaps most importantly, skill at using our own talents.

    The other great thing about money is that we can give it away. Now that feels good.

    Money is power. No different than body strength, youth, intelligence, fire etc.

  6. Being happy with who you are, who you are with, and where you are in life, bring happiness. Money is just window dressing.

  7. More money CAN make you happier to a certain point, but after you reach that point, more money isn't going to increase your happiness.


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)