We spend half of our waking lives at a job. So, deciding how to spend this half of our lives easily becomes one the most important decisions we’ll ever make in our adult life.
And if you’re ever scoured the internet for advice on this life-altering, headache-inducing decision, you’ll most probably have come across this – don’t think about the money, think about the job because after all – money doesn’t buy happiness.
We’re here to tell you that this is a lie. Hear us out:
Money Does Buy Happiness
One of the most influential studies on this surveyed the participants daily emotions in order to gauge their day-to-day happiness. They broke down happiness into three categories for the participants: feeling positive, not feeling blue, and feeling stress free.
And they found for all three measures that the more people earn more money, the happier they are.
It makes a lot of sense, really: the more money you have, the less you’re going to be weighed down by the stress of ‘making ends meet’ on a daily basis. People with higher incomes do tend to be generally happier than those one pay cheque away from disaster. But – these researchers also found out that this day-to-day happiness is capped: the more you earn, the happier you are… until you earn $75K a year. If you earn $75K a year or more, your happiness is no longer related to your money.
Maybe this is where the whole “money can’t buy you love” idea comes in? Cause, you know, you don’t have to worry about money buying you food and shelter anymore – so now you can worry about other things? (Check out this pyramid for a theory about how happiness and needs are built)
But here’s the caveat to all this: these researchers also measured overall life satisfaction. This time however, there was no $75K cap for happiness: the more money you make, the more satisfied you are with your life – all the way up the income ladder.
Looking at it another way: one economics study found that negative emotions decrease at a constant rate until the income approaches the $75K-$80K rate. And a different study found that richer countries – and you know what’s coming – are happier countries.
Earn More Money, Be Happy
Why is it that your day-to-day happiness is caped at $75K but there’s no ceiling for broader life satisfaction?
Well, it has to do with the fact that these are two different types of happiness: day-to-day happiness is the happiness you get when you’re experiencing your life, and broader life satisfaction is the happiness you get when you’re reflecting on your life.
To elaborate, imagine you’re watching a movie – and you’re really loving it. This is the happiness when you’re experiencing life. But then the directors mess up the ending, and you feel like it ruined the whole movie experience. This is the reflecting part of you.
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The difference between these two types of happiness have to do with peak experiences. A peak experience is any event that brings intense emotion – whether it’s positive or negative. So, when you look back at your life these moments of intense emotion stick out. These are the moments we use to evaluate our life. Not the day-to-day stuff.
Now, money most definitely isn’t the only predictor of happiness, but when you reflect back on your life, chances are that many of your peak experiences will be tied in with your level of income. Whether it’s when you get a raise in your job, or when your income grants you access to new and amazing experiences – say, flying first class to an exotic location – these moments are what trigger satisfaction and contentment when looking back at your life.
So, as it turns out the ‘green stuff’ does buy happiness – and maybe it shouldn’t be dismissed when you decide how you want to spend your working life.
P.S. If you’re looking to figure out how to negotiate your salary and earn more money, we’ve got an article for you here.
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