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  • Lenore Lambert

Will more money make you happier?

This post might just blow your mind!


How much of your time, energy, and headspace do you spend pursuing money?

Ponder the following questions:


  1. How many hours per week do you spend earning money?

  2. How many hours per week do you spend thinking about work when you’re not at work?

  3. How many of those hours are you physically with people, but not fully mentally there?

  4. How many days per week do you attend to your life outside of work in a state of emotional tiredness or irritability, because work used up your emotional reserves?

  5. How often do you experience stress from thoughts about earning more money?

  6. How often do you miss out on enjoyable experiences with other people in your life, because you don’t want to spend money?

  7. How often do you feel envy towards people who have more money than you do?

  8. To what extent is your definition of ‘success’ in life centred on money?


As you know, I’ve been busy creating the Flourishing Life Blueprint personal growth program. As part of that, I’ve created a session on the common mirages we chase thinking they’re going to make us happy. A big-ticket item on that list is…you guessed it….money!


Back in 2010, the late Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and his research team, found that money and happiness were linked up until we earn $75,000 per year but after that, the link disappeared. (To be precise, it was a range of $60k - $90k, but for ease they reported it as the midpoint of $75k). This research has been quoted widely in the media ever since.


In 2021 however, other researchers revealed that the relationship between money and happiness continued past that point. This was an excellent study with over 33,000 participants - employed people of working age.


So a couple of years ago, these two camps got together and did a new analysis on the big dataset to figure out who was right, and why the two studies had produced different results.


They found that in fact both conclusions were correct!


The two original studies had used different methods. It turned out that Kahneman’s crew was measuring unhappiness rather than happiness. The new analysis, which measured how often people experienced both pleasant AND unpleasant emotions in a day, replicated their findings.


They found that for all of us, happiness increases with money up to a combined household income (before tax) of $100k – similar to the 2010 result if we adjust for inflation.


However, past the $100k point, this analysis revealed a different link between money and happiness depending on how unhappy or happy you are.


For the unhappiest 20% of people the relationship between money and happiness starts to weaken after $60k, and after it reaches $100k the link disappears all together. For these people, earning more than $100k produced no more happiness, and no more relief from unhappiness than before. The researchers commented:


"This income threshold may represent the point beyond which the miseries that remain are not alleviated by high income."


For the rest of the population, the link between income and happiness continued past $100k, and in fact for the happiest 30% of people, the relationship between income strengthened after $100k.


For the first 20 years of my life, I don't think I knew a wealthy person. However, my adult life has been very different.  I spent several years of my career working in one of Australia’s big law firms, my husband has worked in investment banking and management consulting, and I also did a bunch of consulting work on family values for one of Australia’s wealthiest families.


From all the wealthy people I rubbed shoulders with over that time, I didn’t observe wealthy people to be any more happy than less wealthy people. So I was intrigued to understand this result more clearly.


You can’t always rely on journalists to understand and report on statistics accurately, so I decided to dig up the actual research paper to see how strong this link is between money and happiness.


What I discovered not only made much more sense - it blew me away!

While the ongoing relationship between money and happiness was statistically significant (meaning it’s very unlikely to have occurred by chance) the STRENGTH of the relationship was paltry!


Rather than bore you to death with stats, I’m going to share with you a little snippet of a session from the Flourishing Life Blueprint program I’m creating that explains it. You’ve GOT to watch this!

Now, let’s go back to your answers to the questions at the start of this post. And let’s see those answers next to the information I’ve just shared with you about the incredibly weak link between money and happiness.


I ask you: is the prize worth the sacrifice?


We already know what it takes to flourish as human beings and getting rich is not on that list! Having enough money to get by without worrying about it is on the list (material security), but I’d hazard a guess most of us could tick that box already.


A few weeks ago, when you did your Self-assessment on the Nine Elements of Human Flourishing, what were your scores on Connection, Belonging and Contribution? If they weren’t high, and your answers to the questions above showed a lot of your time, headspace and emotional energy being devoted to acquiring more money, you might want to think about changing the way you spend your time – and care.


….well, if you want flourish fully as a human being that is.


What a disruptive insight hey?


So, whom do you know and care about, who might be wasting their precious life chasing the mirage of money? Would you show your care for them and send them this post to see if you can nudge them away from the mirage of money-induced happiness, towards what will actually help them flourish as human beings?


Oh, and if you enjoy my posts and Youtube vids, please would you Like, Subscribe, Share..... all that jazz....anywhere you will help others find this stuff too.


Until next time.




(You can download the research paper here if you’d like the detail.)

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