Happy people enjoy life more, practice positive habits and even have stronger immune systems. Everybody wants to be happy, and many people feel that if they got one more bonus or one more promotion, they would be much happier.
This isn’t necessarily true. Happiness research over the past decade has demonstrated that money DOES provide happiness. However, as we get used to a higher level of material wealth, it turns out to be a transitory happiness. Sure, you’re happy with the new flat-screen you got, but eventually it wears off and you’re left wanting more.
Experience purchases can leave much to be desired as well. Many people believe that if you spend money on life experiences, it will add to happiness. This doesn’t work for everyone, because the life experiences have to mesh with the buyer’s identity. If you’re a huge football fan, spending money on season tickets for your favorite team will probably make you happier. Spending money on art gallery tickets (an experience others regard as universally edifying) won’t do much for you.
As for that “one more promotion” theory, if you’re making more than $75,000, you may be chasing a false rabbit. A 2010 study by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that at the national level, making more than $75,000 per year won’t significantly improve your happiness. This is based on your income/cost of living ratio and past this level, your emotional well-being doesn’t improve much with added income.
So what determines your happiness? According to American Psychologist, there are three attributes. Vanguard founder, John Bogle, talks about them in his book, Enough, emphasizing that money is not the answer to a fulfilling life. Without further ado, here they are:
Autonomy. This is the extent to which we have the ability to control our lives. If you feel that someone else controls your life, you won’t be very happy. You need to be able to do your own thing and feel responsible for your life’s outcomes. You are the captain of your own ship!
Maintaining connectedness with other human beings. This is through love of your family, friends and colleagues. Be open to everyone you meet in life – you never know when you’ll need them! The human element of life cannot be emphasized enough, because it is the foundation of expression and engagement of life’s experiences. You can have fun by yourself, but fulfillment comes from a life shared with other people.
Exercising competence. People want to do well for their community and fellow man. When you use your natural and self-motivated talents, you feel more fulfilled. Nobody wants to feel as if talent is wasted, so developing a lifestyle that allows adequate expression of these talents is crucial. If you are self-motivated to learn more and more about the finance industry, why not work in it? If you are a great baseball player, become a coach! Use your talents.
With these three attributes, you will be well on your way to a happier life. And isn’t that the goal?