Thursday, February 07, 2008

Money Can't Buy Happiness

Recently, many studies have been published regarding the effects of happiness on health. Of course, every time they tell us something is good for us, another study comes along and disproves it. (Except chocolate, that's still ok.)

What could be unhealthy about happiness? According to this article which deals with the research of Dr. Ed Diener of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , its not good to be too happy. (Dr. Diener is a Researcher on Subjective Well-Being.) If you're too happy, you won't be wealthy. And if you're not wealthy, it follows that you won't be as healthy.

Moderately happy people are wealthier -- and maybe healthier -- than extremely happy individuals

While people who are happy are certainly more healthy and successful than those who are angry and depressed ... people who are moderately happy may achieve more than those who are extremely happy. They might also live longer. (emphasis mine)

One study, the World Values Survey, which included nearly 120,000 people from 96 countries, found that those who were moderately happy, rating their life satisfaction at 8 or 9 out of 10, made more money than those who rated their satisfaction level at 10. However, 10s and 9s were more likely to have stable intimate relationships.
People who make more money and achieve more are better off psychologly than people who have stable intimate relationships.

Another study found that the happiest college students were also the most social, but they had lower grade-point averages than their slightly less happy peers.
And a high GPA is also necessary for psychological well-being.

In four studies that looked at individuals' well-being several years after their happiness level was initially assessed, the happiest people wound up with less education and lower incomes than the moderately happy individuals.

They have less education and lower incomes ... terrible! All because they're happy. If they wouldn't be so happy, they would be better educated and wealthier.

Even worse for the happy set:

While the current study didn't look at happiness and health, Diener noted in an interview, other research has shown that the happiest people may not live as long as moderately happy individuals. (emphasis mine)
Then he explains why it's physically unhealthy to be happy. Not that its been proven, but hypothetically...

Extremely happy people may be less likely to follow-up on health concerns, he suggested. It's also possible, he said, that being in an "aroused," extremely happy state can take a toll on one's cardiovascular system...

The worst part about being extremely happy is being satisfied with one's life.

As far as achievement goes, Diener said, extremely happy people may be more satisfied with their lot in life and less likely to make efforts to change it by getting more education or finding a new job.

(I'm guessing Ed Diener has a very high level of psychological well-being - he's probably a grouch.)

So don't worry if money can't buy happiness. Save your money - it's better to have it and not be so happy.