Baggage Check: Money Can Rent Happiness


What is happiness? And can it be achieved through the accumulation of cold, hard cash (or perhaps granite countertops?) It’s a ubiquitous question for people searching what to do with their lives, and the general consensus is that wealth does not tend to correlate as directly with happiness as one might assume.

Now, the biggest study ever on the subject — including a cross-cultural sample of tens of thousands of people across the globe — indicates that money might be somewhat associated with increased feelings of well-being, but not other factors of happiness. (This isn’t hard to imagine: The constant stress of not having enough monetary resources to keep yourself safe and healthy can certainly make it hard to feel happy.) In fact, as your grandmother long suspected, other factors — like having a trusted circle of people to rely on, and feeling respected — seem to matter more.

To paraphrase Weird Al Yankovic, looks like you can’t buy happiness — but you might be able to rent it.

Talk back to Dr. Andrea by leaving a comment below. To ask a question for Baggage Check in the Express print edition, e-mail baggage@readexpress.com or submit an anonymous question here.

Dr. Andrea Bonior writes Express' advice column, Baggage Check.
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Dr. Andrea Bonior | July 7, 2010