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Can Money Actually Buy Happiness?

Does mental welfare directly correspond with an individual's income?

Most of us are familiar with the saying 'money can’t buy happiness' but how true is this outlook on life? It’s been proven that there is a direct correlation between mental welfare and the income a person has available to them. For example, it is more common for a person with a sustainable income to be more satisfied with their life than someone who struggles to put food on the table.

How can a sustainable income improve mental welfare?

For a person that has grown up with a serious shortage of income, money may be the solution to all of their mental health issues. For example, a person’s mental instability may source from their inability to generate a steady and sustainable source of income. Once this individual has found work in an industry they are fond of, and can therefore lead a less financially stressed life, there would likely be immediate improvements in their mental state.

Similarly, a person who is in crippling debt may suffer from severe mental health issues through worrying about how they will pay it off. In this case, a larger income would the key in creating a source of happiness for them. In regard to the saying that was referenced earlier “money can’t buy Happiness”, it’s clear that in some cases, money could in fact buy an individual’s happiness. A recent study conducted by Mathew Killingsworth concluded that:

“Higher earners are generally happier in part due to the increased control over their life”

While this doesn’t mean you have to be a “high earner” to be happy, it does contribute towards bettering an individual’s welfare. An example of how having control over your life can result in more mental stability can be seen during the pandemic. A person who works in a low skill requirement job, at an organisation that was forced to close during the pandemic, may be forced to take the first available job to stay afloat.

However, someone with more financial stability and more specialist skills could be more selective in which jobs they look for. In this situation, the person that had to take the first available job may end up working a role they hate, contributing negatively towards their mental welfare through not enjoying their day-to-day job. On the other hand, the individual who has some sort of financial security is able to wait until they find a job that is desirable to them, which would have a positive effect on their mental welfare.

Previously, it had been proven through studies that after an individual made £75,000 a year, no amount of money made after this point influenced their mental welfare. However, the new research previously specified, contradicts this older wisdom. In fact, now a days, the difference in happiness between someone that makes £25,000 a year and someone who makes £50,000 a year is the same as the difference between someone who makes £100,000 and someone who makes £200,000.

How does having too much money affect mental welfare?

Everybody dreams of being a millionaire, having complete and utter financial freedom, the ability to buy whatever you want whenever you want, but is this as good as it seems on the surface? In a lot of situations, after working tirelessly to make enough money to achieve a goal you have set for yourself feels far better than just purchasing something because you have an extreme surplus of money. For example, a millionaire may buy their third or fourth house and not care much about it, whilst a modest 9-5 worker would feel an extreme sense of accomplishment buying their first flat. Sometimes working towards achieving a goal can be a source of happiness and benefit your mental welfare. This is because it gives a person a sense of purpose or a target to reach which encourages them to continue working hard without seeing their mental state deteriorate. Some goals that may be set could be, purchasing a house, buying a car or being financially safe enough to start a family.

What can we conclude?

Income and mental welfare are both on a parallel path to a certain point. When income is increased, the level of happiness a person feels increases as well, equally when income is lessened, mental welfare can worsen. In some situations, these parallels can cross over and having all the money in the world can lead to an individual feeling untethered with no ultimate objective. However, each person is unique and individual, each situation differs to the previous, so we shouldn’t let our incomes influence our mental welfare where it can be avoided.

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