Can money buy happiness? The short answer is yes and no. Although it’s clear that not having enough money to pay for our basic needs; food, warmth and shelter impacts on happiness levels. Once we have enough money to cover our basic welfare, then more money doesn’t necessarily equal greater happiness. Studies have proven that there is very little difference between the happiness of people who earn £50,000 a year compared to earning £100,000,000 a year. Instead of money buying happiness, it is how we live our lives and spend the money that we have that makes the real difference.
Once our basic needs are covered then how we spend the money we earn matters and in the 2011 study “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right” recommended;
- Spend money on “experiences” rather than goods.
- Donate money to others, including charities, rather than spending it solely on yourself.
- Spend small amounts of money on small, more frequent temporary pleasures than less often on larger ones.
- Rather than buying products that provide the “best deal,” make purchases based on what will facilitate well-being.
Psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of The How of Happiness claims that about 50% of our happiness level is a result of genetics, a further 10% is as a result of our life circumstances ie where we live and our income, which leaves around 40% of our happiness level which we can influence by our personal choices.
Although we all have a personal responsibility for our own life choices, shouldn’t country leaders also do more to facilitate a happier society? Gross national product (GNP) has long been used as a measure of successful government policy but the alternative concept of Gross National Happiness was introduced by The King of Bhutan back in the 1970s. This approach values collective happiness as the goal and emphasises harmony with nature and traditional values. Economic policy decisions are balanced with the need for environmental sustainability. Happiness is clearly subjective and therefore difficult to measure, but doesn’t measuring wealth encourage an economic divide within cultures and a more unhappy, poorer quality of life for some? The alternative being a more compassionate approach to policy making, helping to facilitate national wellbeing.
With levels of anxiety and depression rising in the UK (Office of National Statistics, 2016) then shouldn’t mental wellbeing being be both a personal and national priority? Isn’t is time as a nation we valued happiness not money?
Love & light, The Happy Bee x