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We all know how the old adage goes: money can’t buy happiness. And yet, most of us believe that money is the key to happiness, right? That’s because when you have more money, you have more choices when it comes to how you want to live your life.
But if you still think linking money to happiness is nothing but materialistic BS, then let us tell you: there is legit science behind it.
A recent study, published in the journal of Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, finds that money does influence happiness.
The study debated the question: what’s the relationship between money and well-being? Says Matthew Killingsworth, a senior fellow at Pann’s Wharton school who is studying human happiness: ‘It’s one of the most studied questions in my field. I’m very curious about it. Other scientists are curious about it. Laypeople are curious about it. It’s something everyone is navigating all the time’.
Killingsworth gathered 1.7 million data points from over 33,000 participants who provided details of their feelings during their daily lives. He used two ways to measure well-being, factoring in the role of wealth.
Killingsworth used a technique called experience sampling. He created an app called ‘track your happiness’, which measures experiences and well-being through random check-ins with people. The app asked them a few questions like: “how do you feel right now?” and “overall how satisfied are you with your life?”
Another method to measure life satisfaction included 12 specific feelings, divided into five positive feelings (confident, good, inspire, interested, and proud) and seven negative feelings (afraid, angry, bad, bored, sad, stressed, and upset).
Using these parameters, Killingsworth then calculated the average score of each person and analyzed that relate to people’s income. He suggests that higher earners are happier, in part, because of an increased sense of control over life. Across decisions big and small, having more money gives a person more choice and a greater sense of autonomy.
That said, it might be best not to define success in monetary terms. “Although money might be good for happiness, I found that people who equated money and success were less happy than those who didn’t. I also found that people who earned more money worked longer hours and felt more pressed for time.”
“If anything, people probably overemphasize money when they think about how well their life is going,” says Killingsworth. “Yes, this is a factor that might matter in a way that we didn’t fully realize before, but it’s just one of many that people can control, and ultimately, it’s not one I’m terribly concerned people are undervaluing.” Rather, he says he hopes this research can help move forward the conversation in an attempt to find what he calls the “equation for human happiness.”