According to a recent survey, most people now believe that wealth is more important to happiness than a life free of illness or disability. This highlights how people are becoming more materialistic, placing money above more important aspects of life such as health and social relationships.
The survey, commissioned by The Feel Good Drinks Co., discovered that 41% of Britons would rather be wealthy than healthy, with only 32% preferring good health over financial success.
People measure happiness in very specific ways and they often attribute their feelings of happiness to material possessions and wealth in general. However, there is very little evidence that finds wealth to be a particularly good indicator of wellbeing.
The findings from the survey suggest that people are rather poor judges of what makes them happy. Indeed, money can increase happiness up to a point, but the results tend to be dependent on a number of factors. A 2010 study conducted by Princeton University psychologist Daniel Kahneman found that a rise in annual salary can improve feelings of happiness, but only until yearly earnings reach £50,000. Beyond this amount, happiness is dependent on factors unrelated to wealth.
Interestingly, the majority of those surveyed believe that treating themselves to a bit of retail therapy is the best way to lift their spirits. This might certainly be the case in the short-term, but these feelings don’t last. Once we’ve bought that new smartphone or pair of shoes, their lustre begins to fade and we’re thinking ahead to another shopping trip.
Money, therefore, doesn’t lead to long-term happiness in the same way positive life experiences can. According to psychologists Ryan Howell, many people intuitively believe that experiences are only going to provide them with temporary happiness when they actually offer greater levels of happiness and more lasting value.
Investing time in keeping ourselves healthy and experiencing the fullness of life will reward us with much higher dividends than wealth alone. This means that looking after our health and staying on contact with our friends is of paramount importance if we are to reap the benefits of a long and fruitful life.