Are you happy? I usually am, but for me, the past several months has been a rollercoaster of emotional swings, and I doubt that I’m alone. Our world is topsy-turvy, and we don’t know when, or even if, we will return to normal. So, we plug on. I was out of sorts on Tuesday with absolutely no idea of why. Wednesday I was back to my normal, happy self. Go figure.
An article was published on Yahoo! Finance on March 3, 2020, and on MSN.com around the same time. It was written by Alexandria Bova for Gobankingrates.com. The article was about the amount of money it takes to be happy in each state based on a 2018 study by Purdue University about money and happiness.
According to the article, the amount of money required in North America for life satisfaction is $105,000 per year. In Mississippi, the number to be happy was found to be $88,935 annually. The amount for emotional well-being was stated at $50,000.
The article bothered me.
Yes, there are undeniably links between money and happiness. If you are stressed out because you can’t make ends meet and don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you’ll find it difficult to focus on happiness. But to publish an article that suggests there are levels of income that equal happiness is bothersome.
When I got my first, grown-up job, I was making much less than the happiness amount of $88,935, and considerably less than the emotional well-being amount of $50,000. I was relatively happy. Any unhappiness I had at that time had little, if anything to do with the amount of money I made, and more to do with feelings I had about my immature self. I was proud to be able to pay my rent, buy my food, and manage a little extra for recreation. I loved my co-workers and felt like I had significant opportunity for growth and professional development.
We would be pretending if we said that what money can buy doesn’t ever make us happy. It does. But money is not the only thing that determines our level of happiness. We’re also happy when we feel like we are helping others, and by knowing we are contributing to making a positive difference for people, and when we are laughing with family and friends.
In the Purdue study, I don’t know how many people were surveyed or what questions they were asked, but are those dollar amounts truly what the majority of people believe would make them happy?
If yes, to me, that is sad.
To me, at the point where are basic needs are met, happiness is all in our own minds.
We create it by being grateful for what we have, and through being kind to others, and through being generous with our talents. If we are connecting happiness, beyond the fulfillment of our basic needs, to money, we are putting way too much value on physical things and are likely relentlessly comparing ourselves with others.
Happiness comes from inside and can be found through gratefulness, appreciation, kindness, and grace, all things a pandemic cannot touch.
Christina Pierce is publisher of The Pine Belt News and Signature Magazine.