I was speaking to someone recently who told me that they had a very stressful job. What made matters worse was that he felt pressurised to work harder and he was busy enough as it was. I asked him if he ever considered leaving it. He replied that the money was too good (nearly €150k annually). We all have choices. I personally would prefer less money and less stress myself!

I often meet people who regret not getting to know their children as they were growing up. They were working hard for more money. They were rarely at home during the key formative years of the childrens’ development. People often borrow and entrap themselves in a unhappy lifestyle where they work as slaves to bank debts.

Research indicates that increased wealth does not correlate to increased happiness. In fact, everything that we buy we will eventually adapt to and want to change again. Being wealthy ensures faster healthcare (and that’s a serious injustice in our society) but money also can complicate your life and create stress that negatively affects health. Many wealthy people are deeply unhappy and unfulfilled.

Psychological research indicates that once you have enough money – that’s all you need. A roof over your head, food in the fridge, heat in the radiator and some simple pleasures is all that it takes to feel fulfilled and content. Of course we need social connections as well. That’s a given.

However, research shows that people score higher for happiness when spending on others. Studies also show that spending on experiences ( like holidays, concerts etc) leads to more happiness than buying material goods. It’s just not as simple as money making the world go around.

The question often asked is how much money do we need to be happy? Psychological research indicates that there is a measurable connection between income and happiness. These studies show that people with a comfortable living standard are happier than people living in poverty. However, research also shows that additional income does not ‘buy’ any additional happiness once we reach a comfortable standard of affording the daily essentials. If we are struggling with our finances anxiety certainly eats away at our happiness. But once we have enough money for ‘living’ thousands more cash would not make a significant difference to our happiness levels.

No matter what we buy or win we remain the same vulnerable person with the same genetic imprint, same life history, same inhibitions and fears.

Often our ideas about the relationship between money and happiness are misguided. In research conducted at the University of British Columbia with a national sample of Americans, people thought that their life satisfaction would double if their incomes doubled. However, the data showed that people who earned twice as much as the baseline were just 9 percent more satisfied. Indeed, the same researchers showed that it turns out that what we do with our money plays a far more important role than how much money we make.

(C) Shane Martin C.Psychol.Ps.S.I.