Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More on the happiness-wealth correlation

Money isn't that important to being happy, despite my previous post on how to "buy" happiness.
No matter how hard you try, it won't be possible to use money to be happy unless you love what you do, and have close friends and family. Those are the very basics, just as a minimum amount of money is required for basic necessities.
There seems to be a lot of discussion regarding the money-wealth correlation. The Happiness Project talks about a recent study concluding that comparative wealth is more important for happiness than absolute wealth. The comments led me to a Yahoo! Finance column on Money & Happiness.

Why do people always wonder about happiness and wealth? I think it begins with the unthinking, righteous people who feel that they must instantly protest that money doesn't make a person happy. After all, people who want money are greedy, and greedy people are sinful and selfish and mean.

The study quoted in the Happiness Project concluded that people would rather earn $50,000 while other people made $25,000, than earn $100,000 while others made $250,000. This study does make me uncomfortable, it brings up too many beating-the-Joneses connotations. I really don't like using money to show off or impress others: there's too much schadenfreude involved.

Maybe that's why the self-righteous immediately protest against those who want to earn more: they just don't want to watch the neighbours driving a flashier car.