Does wealth bring happiness?
Researchers have dived deeper into attempting to answer questions on the relationship between wealth and happiness, especially in the current consumerist society. From our observation of daily life and our intuition, we can see that money does bring us more health care guarantees and higher living quality. The society displays a natural connection between wealth and happiness. But is wealth the leading cause of our happiness? From many studies, the relationship between wealth and happiness is not like what we initially thought. Wealth provides double effects on our feeling of happiness. And if we want wealth to play more effectively in our happy life, we should know how to use wealth in the right way.
There is a tremendous positive correlation between the country’s wealth and national life satisfaction from the national wealth view. In Dunn’s research, we can tell that developed countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, rank relatively higher on the happiness index than developing countries with less developed economies, such as India and Laos. (Dunn 116). In developing countries, the correlation between wealth and happiness is significantly higher, but not do the same as in developed countries. In the 2008 study, Stevenson shows the same idea. He used a mathematical model to suggest that the correlation between wealth and people’s total income is not remarkable(Stevenson w14282). Once people get rid of poverty, the correlation coefficient between income and happiness decreases. In his research, Duncan also showed that wealth and happiness did have a specific relationship within a certain range, but not just a positive way. (Duncan 267). We have enough wealth to exchange for the living supplies we need and to satisfy our wishes. However, when we meet the basic needs, our wealth and happiness are not so substantial. For our joy, the marginal effect of money is decreasing. When we escape from extreme poverty and gradually realize a well-off life, the happiness that wealth brings us is the highest. But once we adapt to the well-off living conditions, the happiness that wealth brings to us will not be so intense. In the later more commercial society, other scholars also made unanimous views.
With the development of the economy and the improvement of people’s living standards, it is a prevalent thing that people’s basic life needs are met. In this situation, people’s income and happiness may even become negatively correlated. Although personal income has been growing continuously for more than 40 years in the United States, the proportion of delighted people has not increased much. ( Myers 56). Quoidbach showed in his research that money impairs people’s ability to savor everyday positive emotions and experiences(Quoidbach 760). This is a bit counter-common sense, but it did make sense. He asked two groups of participants to taste chocolate together, and the more affluent participants had a lower sense of happiness than the less wealthy participants. Moreover, the riches spent less time to taste chocolate. More wealth makes things in life easier to obtain. The lower a person’s difficulty in getting what he wants, the correspondingly lower happiness and satisfaction. These things will not be cherished, but it is difficult for the poor to get something, and when they get them, they will feel happier and have more time to experience these great things. When the things we need so much are integrated into our life very naturally, and we can’t feel how much we need it, we will naturally not realize that we should cherish it. For instance, we need air, but we don’t notice it in our daily lives. Wealth makes it easier for people to acquire material things, so the money may undercut people’s ability to reap enjoyment from life’s small pleasures.
But does the problem lie in the way we spend money? If we master the correct way to spend money, will we be happier as a result? The answer speaks for itself. In our homework last week, we all watched a TED talk——If we spend money in the right way, like helping others and caring about our families and friends, we can maximize the utility of money and get more happiness. Dunn suggested that people who spend money in different ways will bring an extra level of satisfaction. (Dunn 117). Instead of just spending money on our material enjoyment, spending money on helping others, or buying more tiny happy experiences can make us feel more satisfied. Lyubomirsky did further research to show that the activities we engage in our daily life have a far more significant impact on happiness than wealth itself. (Lyubomirsky 23) In other words, compare to wealth itself, what we do is matter to our satisfaction. Wealth is only how we obtain happiness, not the purpose in itself. Therefore, how to maximize the use of wealth to make us bring more happiness is a matter of learning and practicing.
Going back to our original discussion, is wealth equal to happiness? I think the answer is self-evident by all the notes I mentioned above. Through the acquisition of wealth, we can meet our basic life needs. This saves us from suffering. If we want to be truly happy, we should also have the ability to feel happiness and not take things in life for granted. Try hard to feel joy in life. If we want to make wealth play a more significant role, we should use wealth to help others get a sense of satisfaction. Through reading literature and writing, I have a deeper and more thorough understanding of wealth, which will greatly help my future life and study. Wealth is not equal to happiness, but we can use wealth through our practice in exchange for more happiness.