Too often, it seems as if money and financial success are the main reason we get out of bed each day.
For many people, the quality of their job is measured by the size of the pay cheque, which makes sense when you consider the sky-high price of Australian housing market and the cost of living.
But new research debunks the idea that an ever-increasing income will make you happier and happier.
According to the 2015 HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) survey, the happiest Australians live in towns of 1000 people or less – far from bright lights, big cities and highly paid jobs.
One of the main lessons in the research is that the pursuit of happiness should involve avoiding comparisons and focusing instead on health and relationships.
Professor Mark Wooden, who runs the HILDA project, says money brings less happiness than you might think.
“Health, relationships and having a job all have a far greater effect,” said Professor Wooden. “Compared to those, money pales in comparison.”
While money does have an effect on happiness for lower income households, the relationship is non-linear, meaning it diminishes as we make more money.
That’s the real headline here. More money does not equate to more happiness.
And for a Catch 22, Professor Wooden said money most positively affects those who don’t care about it.
Comparisons are Odious
The issue of comparing ourselves is not new. US President Teddy Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Shakespeare called comparisons “odorous” in Much Ado About Nothing.
While the HILDA survey doesn’t speculate as to why people in tiny towns are happier, it could be because they are not participating in the rat race and some of the more ‘odorous’ comparisons that come with city life.
While a pay increase may make us happy in the short term, once that money has been spent there is always something newer, shinier, bigger or newer for us to covet.
Focus on this instead
Put simply, the pursuit of happiness is all about choices.
“Income is a liberator, it increases choices,” said Professor Wooden.
“But it doesn’t necessarily lead you to being happier because people still make bad choices.”
Prioritise those things proven to affect our happiness most: health, relationships, working a job you enjoy.
While the recipe for perfect happiness might remain elusive, those life-affirming things will never go out of fashion.
This content was proudly sponsored by CBUS: an Industry Super Fund.
The information in this article is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own personal situation and requirements before making any financial decisions.
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