Happiness for $75,000?

Isaac Mostovicz writes that money still can't buy happiness...

In a recent post I wrote that if people are always seeking something better in their lives, they might not appreciate what luxury they already have. Happiness cannot be purchased — to possess it, one just has to know what luxury means to him or her.

This week the Associated Press reported that academics have determined that money can indeed purchase happiness, to a point. Researchers for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people’s emotional well-being increases along with their income up to about $75,000. Going beyond that figure would do little for their daily mood, according to the report, but make the person feel they have a better life.

I think this research is interesting, but I have to disagree with the idea that you can put a number on how much happiness costs — it’s certainly different for every individual. I have two friends who love to travel and see the world, but whereas one derives pleasure from seeing how cheaply she can do it, the other enjoys high-end travel: business class flights, five star hotels, the works.

Both of these friends associate travel with luxury, but do so at very different price points. Luxury always comes down to the individual. It is, by definition, something that we do not need. Yet the bracket of this ‘need’ is rather flexible. It is up to each person to decide what is a necessity that they cannot go without and what is a luxury that they want but really do not need. Often it is those whose level of true need is low that are the happiest: they can appreciate more the luxury in their life and take more opportunity to enjoy it.

So for researchers to measure and quantify to a five-figure sum something that is so specific to each individual, this report disregards the true nature of happiness itself.

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