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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who says "Money Can't Buy Happiness"?

The article below does. While it may be true that there are many things that money can't buy, it is equally true that there are many, many things that money can buy. Life's problems are manageable when one has lots of money. I think that to desire for more money should not be seen as obscene or odd. Money--when acquired legally and morally--is a celebration of one's own genius. It can be a gauge on how one has fared in life.

Overall, I have some reservations to the large scale study that follows:

  1. Were billionaires and millionaires included as respondents?
  2. Were there any super-rich individuals in the survey team?
And what's the importance of including them? Well, these ultra-rich people have a way of thinking that most people--rich and poor--do not have. What may seem logical to the majority of us may be odd to them, and vice versa. That is why they are very rich. These millionaires and billionaires do not think like the majority.

In the end, I think that money should be used as a tool to make our lives more livable. Imagine, you claim that money cannot make you happy, but you cannot visit the burial of a loved one because you do not have money to travel. Money should be treated with respect. Loving it should not be considered as taboo. For there are many many good things that it can do. To have money is good. It is the people who misuse them that is not good. It is the lack of money that make people not do good things.

Can Money Buy Happiness?

Money Boosts Life Satisfaction, but Not Necessarily Positive Feelings, Study Finds
By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

July 1, 2010 -- All over the world, life satisfaction rises with income, but income is not necessarily highly correlated with positive feelings and enjoying yourself, new research indicates.
An analysis of findings from a study of 136,000 people in 132 countries also suggests that there is no single prescription for happiness, which depends on many factors, including local culture and expectations.
The findings from the data, gathered in the first Gallup World Poll, are published in the July issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“The public always wonders: Does money make you happy?” Ed Diener, PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Illinois and a senior scientist with the Gallup Organization, says in a news release. “This study shows that it all depends on how you define happiness, because if you look at life satisfaction, how you evaluate your life as a whole, you see a pretty strong correlation around the world between income and happiness.”
However, he says in a news release, “it’s pretty shocking how small the correlation is with positive feelings and enjoying yourself.”

Money, Happiness, and Satisfaction

The pollsters asked people questions on a wide range of topics, including whether their basic needs were met, what kinds of conveniences they owned, and whether their psychological needs were met.
Participants were also asked about positive and negative emotions experienced the previous day, whether they felt respected, had family and friends they could count on in an emergency, and how free they felt to choose their daily activities.
Diener says positive feelings are much more associated with factors such as whether they feel respected, have autonomy, and if their jobs are fulfilling.
“Everybody has been looking at just life satisfaction and income,” he says. “And while it is true that getting richer will make you more satisfied with your life, it may not have the big impact we thought on enjoying life.”
Among findings:
  • The United States had the highest income but ranked 16th in life satisfaction and 26th on positive feelings.
  • Denmark ranks high across categories. The country ranked No. 1 on life satisfaction, seventh on positive feelings, and fifth  in income.
  • Extremely impoverished countries in Africa generally scored low on various categories, but no nation came in lowest in all types of happiness.
  • Israel ranks high on life satisfaction (11th) but much lower in positive  feelings.
  • South Korea is a relatively wealthy country ranking 24th in income, but ranking 58th in positive feelings.
  • Some nations such as Costa Rica and New Zealand are happier than their income levels would suggest. Costa Rica ranks 41st in income but fourth in positive feelings, while New Zealand ranks 22nd in incomes but first in positive feelings.
  •  Some mid-level countries such as Costa Rica do well and some like South Korea less well “in part because of the quality of social relationships,” Diener says in emailed responses to questions from WebMD.
  • Self-esteem is more important to happiness in the U.S. than in “traditional” cultures.

Poverty Does Not Mean Unhappiness

Diener says Danes are happier mainly for two reasons -- social trust is very high, and corruption is considered low. Also, people in Denmark are more satisfied with “their economic safety net” than people in the U.S., Diener says.
Also, factors that influence feelings of well-being vary from country to country, he says.
Diener says the study “clearly shows” that there is no single prescription for happiness.
Money, he says, no more guarantees happiness than cigarette smoking guarantees cancer, but they increase the chances.
In studies of poor people, researchers find that some are happy, in part because their needs are met.
“We have interviewed happy people in the slums of Calcutta and they can be relatively happy, although dissatisfied with their poverty, because they are rich in family and friends,” he says.
Money makes a bigger difference to happiness among poor people, but it takes a lot more additional money to change the happiness of a person who is well-off, Diener says.

Happiness by Country

Here is a list of rankings of selected nations on types of prosperity, out of 89:
Nation           GDP/Capita     Positive Feelings     
United States       1                          26                             
Denmark              5                           7                                
Netherlands          7                           3                                
Japan                 14                         44                             
Italy                   18                          67                            
Israel                 20                         61                              
New Zealand       22                          1        
South Korea       24                         58  
South Africa      35                         29  
Russia               36                         79
Mexico              39                         17
Costa Rica         41                         4                  
Indonesia          59                         24                
India                 61                         63            
Ghana               68                         68                 
Nepal                76                         50           
Sierra Leone      87                         87    
Tanzania           89                         52


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