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Money, the Eternal Quest for Happiness and Good Health

"If frugality were established in the state, and if our expenses were laid out to meet needs rather than superfluities of life, there might be fewer wants, and even fewer pleasures, but infinitely more happiness." - Oliver Goldsmith 1728-1774, Anglo-Irish Author, Poet, Playwright

The quest for money, happiness and good health has been pursued for generations and yet the outcome is almost always the same. One finds out the hard way that making money your master does not bring you any closer to finding happiness or attaining good health, in fact it does the opposite. The quest for money is not a bad ideal however making it your master and trying to make as much of it as possible with complete disregard for everything else is a big problem; unfortunately the majority seem to follow this route generation after generation. Money is just a tool and cannot bring about better health or help you find happiness it can however make your live better by enabling you to buy things that once were out of your reach. Most individuals however chase money so hard that when they do finally become wealthy they realize that they have lost most of their health and that they are not even one step closer to finding happiness. Don't mistake our viewpoint here for the one that suggests poverty is key to happiness or that poor people are the happiest; for those individuals I have this to say, "If money can't buy happiness I hate to think what poverty will buy". Our contention is simply that if the pursuit of wealth is put above everything else (in other words money becomes your master or God) then you will never find happiness or keep your health at optimum levels. The reason is simple you will be over allocating resources to this dumb quest while under allocating resources that are vital to your health and to your happiness. Happiness is not something you can find it's a state of mind and its something that finds you and not the other way round. Remember this heaven is a mind in peace and hell is a mind in pieces.

Below you will find several articles illustrating the relationship between money and happiness.

Everyone wants to be happy, right? Wrong, says Ed Diener, a psychologist in the emerging field of "subjective well-being"-- a professor of happiness in all but name--at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He's found that happiness is more than just a warm glow, it's firmly rooted in culture. And guess what? Money really does make you happier--but for maximum gain you have to be poor to begin with. Michael Bond asks Diener how science goes about adding to what philosophers and artists have told us about happiness over the centuries

So the big question is--where do you find the happiest people in the world?

Overall, Scandinavian countries seem to be the happiest. Income is very important to happiness up to a point, and it correlates with democracy, human rights, infrastructure, longevity and other things. But once you allow for that, cultural factors that have little to do with income seem to make a big difference. If you take income out of the equation--if you level the playing field, in other words--the happiest people are Hispanic.

Why?

Hispanic people tend to look at what's going to go right. They ask: "What can I do that's fun, what can I do that's interesting?" Americans are like this, and Britons to an extent. They worry more about what good things they can get rather than the bad things.

The other big question is, obviously, who are the unhappiest

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Can't Buy Happiness

Study Finds Money Last Among Psychological Needs; Self-Esteem In Top Four
By Michael S. James

A study of college students in the February issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published today by the American Psychological Association, concludes that money is at the bottom of a list of would-be psychological needs that bring happiness and fulfillment.

In order to be happy, the study subjects most needed to believe they were autonomous and competent, to have self-esteem and to feel a sense of closeness with others.

"I like salary raises just as much as everybody, but I'm sure you can think of people who've left fulfilling jobs to make more money somewhere else and regretted it," says Kennon M. Sheldon, a psychologist at the University of Missouri-Columbia and co-author of the study.

At the bottom of the study's list of factors that bring happiness and well being were popularity/influence and money/luxury.

" People who value money, beauty and popularity more so than they value intimacy, growth and community contribution really look a lot less mentally healthy and are a lot more unhappy," Sheldon adds. "If you really are [financially] broke and don't have what you need, you really should take care of that. But a lot of us, we keep looking for more and more when we really already have enough and it should be more meaningful .

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Can money buy happiness? UC Berkeley researchers find surprising answers
By Carol Hyman, Media Relations | 16 June 2003

BERKELEY - Few would disagree that, to a certain extent, money brings happiness. But according to researchers at University of California, Berkeley, once enough is earned to meet basic needs, money in relation to happiness is a very personal equation.

In fact, employees who are primarily motivated by the love of their work become less happy the more money they make.

Psychology PhD candidate Ariel Malka and Haas School of Business professor Jennifer Chatman posed the question: Does the effect that money has on happiness differ between individuals? Specifically, depending upon work values, does one's level of income impact his or her feelings about life?

Some random excerpts from this article

"First of all," said Malka, "we found that income had a positive relationship with both well-being and job satisfaction for individuals high in extrinsic orientation. That is, if money is what you value, then money, indeed, will make you happy."

"However," he continued, "we found a more surprising pattern regarding intrinsic orientation. Specifically, for those high in intrinsic orientation, money actually had a negative effect on well-being. In other words, among those who had a relatively strong tendency to value work because they enjoyed it or it fulfilled them, those making more money were actually less happy than those making relatively little money."

"In a capitalistic society, people generally believe that - all other things being equal - being rich is better," Chatman added. "But that is not what we found."

"Earning a lot of money might, to some extent, be a marker of having chosen a job based on what it pays, neglecting factors such as how fulfilling it is," Malka said. "We suspect that neglecting these intrinsic factors would be harmful to a person's happiness. Conceivably, this detrimental effect is especially strong for those who have strong intrinsic work values in the first place."

"Perhaps making a lot of money in your job can actually cause you to question why you are working at the particular job you have, even if you chose the job for intrinsic reasons," Malka said. "There's a substantial psychological literature showing that receiving monetary rewards for doing a fun task can make the task seem less enjoyable. This past research suggests that your sense of how fulfilling and personally rewarding you find a task is very fragile, and money can shake this delicate sense of enjoyment."

"Individuals have a fundamental psychological need to feel as though their actions are freely chosen," the authors wrote. "In other words, we all need to feel that we are not just doing the work for the money, and intrinsically motivated individuals need to feel this even more so," Chatman added.

Past research, he explained, has shown that the effect of income on well-being is actually quite strong among those who make less money, because within these people, differences in income translate into differences in how well basic needs are met.

"However, further up the income ladder, at the levels where basic needs are satisfied, the effect of income on well-being diminishes," he continued. "It is at these higher income levels that we expect higher order psychological needs - such as those represented by intrinsic orientation- to have implications for how income affects happiness."

Full Story

Here are some interesting facts that I found on the Internet the other day.

In 1970, 7% of homes lacked plumbing, 5 million homes had cable TV, people on average received 15.5 paid vacation days a year, 100,000 people used computers, no homes had VHS recorders and the average salary was $6,186.24

In 1990, only 1% lacked complete plumbing, 55 million homes had cable TV, people on average received 22.5 paid vacation days a year, 75.9 million homes used computers, sixty-seven million households used VHS recorders, and the average salary was $21,027.98.

Conclusion

If these statistics are true, then how come the world is much worse right now then it was before. If as a group everyone is making more money, why are more people unhappy, why are more people lost, why are more people dying from stress related deaths and I can keep on going with the why questions. The answer seems obvious, once you have enough money to take care of your basic needs; it starts to slowly lose its value.

The funny thing is that most people have no idea of what they are going to really do when they get all this money they are wishing for. Without a proper goal this money could actually turn to be a huge misery because suddenly everything you ever wanted is now just dollars away and you have very little left to aspire for. One should have other reasons for money other then buying all the material goods they think they were once deprived off; all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy all the money in the world and no plan makes Jack insane.

If you have enough food to eat, a decent roof on your head, then just adding large sums of money to your bank account will not materially improve your well being or bring you additional levels of happiness. Be careful for what you wish for it may actually come true and when you open your eyes you might find out that your nightmare has just begun.

"Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." - Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804-1864, American Novelist, Short Story Writer

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