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Be happy, but not too happy!

Don’t be too happy if you want to be rich

by Roman on October 19, 2009

Research shows that income rises with happiness, but being too happy can be bad for you.

University of Illinois psychology professor Ed Diener is the author of numerous studies that show the relationships between happiness and money.

Money can’t buy happiness

Ed Diener’s various studies have shown that money can’t buy happiness, but happy people tend to make more money. His studies show that happiness is not the consequence of having more money – just the opposite is true – having more money is the consequence of being happy.

Too much happiness can be a bad thing

In his latest study professor Diener and his team studied the income levels of people who had previously rated their happiness with a score from 1 to 10.

The results were somewhat surprising.

The amount of money a person made grew with their happiness but not all the way to the top level. The 10s (happiest people) made significantly less money than people who rated their happiness with an 8 or 9. The people whose “happy levels” were a bit less than 10 were also more likely to attend college and save money!

Happy people are strivers

Diener’s conclusion was that people who are happy but understand that it is possible to be even more satisfied with their life are strivers (people who rated their happiness with 8 or 9). These people understand that whatever their current situation, it is possible to be better off.

This insight seems to make people tick. They know that there is something to strive for.

Don’t be too happy

The top happy people who rated their happiness level with a 10 were money wise a lot worse off than the people who rated their happiness with an 8 or 9.

The explanation to this is also quite logical.

Tremendously happy people are always happy – whatever happens. If you work in McDonalds and you are happy with it, why look for a better job? If you get fired but you are still happy, why look for a job at all?

Overly happy people make bad decisions

According to a study done in Duke University the people who rate their happiness level with the maximum grade tend to overestimate their lifespan by more than 20 years. They also found that extreme optimists can have problems with controlling their urges – but they are happy with it. 🙂

It was found that extreme optimists tended to overspend and accumulate debt. They were happy to take a loan, because they were mistakenly positive that they could pay it back.

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MoneyEnergy June 4, 2008 at 10:33 am

This sounds like a great study, I’d like to read more of it. It’s like another great quote I read once, something like:

“Only the person who is unsatisfied has any hope.”

Meaning that you need to feel discomfort in order to grow and improve.

OnuJack June 8, 2008 at 1:16 pm

So the most happy people are the one’s who are happy whatever happens and the ones next to the most happy ones are the people who are still not 100% happy and strive for being a 100% happy – Since the most happy people are not making as much money as the next people on the list it means that their happiness is resulted by something else than striving. I wonder if these strivers will ever be 100% happy as long as they strive and want to improve all the time.

Another thought is that since these optimists tend to overspend might indicate that their 100% happiness is a result of consuming all the time…

What difference does it make to have a bad loan if you are 100% happy anyway – in this sense bad decisions is very subjective… Probably a 100% happy person would not say it was a bad choice :p

Of course these are all speculations – would like to read some of the research myself to find out what and how was it exactly measured and interpreted.

Profoundtigger July 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm

While money cannot buy happiness, it can in fact, make life more easier.

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