Can't buy me meaning? Money cuts a quicker path to happiness - Deepstash

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Can't buy me meaning? Money cuts a quicker path to happiness

Can't buy me meaning? Money cuts a quicker path to happiness


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Key Takeaways

  • Researchers and philosophers identify two types of psychological well-being, which can be summarized as the purposeful and the pleasurable. 
  • Previous research has already established that, on average, wealthy people experience happier, more meaningful lives.
  • A new study asks...

Defining Meaning and Happiness

Researchers and philosophers differentiate between two types of psychological wellbeing: eudaimonic (the meaningful, purposeful, or significant) and hedonic (the pleasurable or enjoyable). The latter aligns with what most people term “happiness.” 

To understand the distinction, imagine work...

Finding Meaning Boosts Happiness

Meaning and happiness are rarely totally separate. In general, meaningful experiences make people feel happy, and vice versa. For example, spending time with friends, buying gifts for others, and celebrating life milestones can be both meaningful and enjoyable. 

Finding meaning in life is t...

Money Does Buy Happiness

To the possible disappointment of anyone hoping to indulge in some schadenfreude, prior research establishes that, on average, wealthy people experience happier and more meani...

The Paradox Of Wealth

On one hand, meaning might be especially important for wealthy people’s happiness, since all of their basic needs are met and they have the resources to pursue grand, meaningful experiences.

On the other hand, meaning may be less important, because it is easier for the wealthy to pursue ha...

Study 1: The Americans

The wealthier someone is, the less meaning affects their happiness levels. Importantly, this does not mean that high-income people reported less overall meaning or happiness — their levels were about as high, or even higher, than those of lower-income participants.

But the study f...

Study 2: The World

Once again, the correlation between meaning and happiness became smaller as wealth increased.

This pattern held in 10 out of 11 world regions, including Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Study 3: Different Questions

For wealth status, participants rated their socioeconomic status using the MacArthur social ladder, which asks participants where they believe they stand compared to others considering their money, education, and jobs.  

Once again, the higher someone reported being on the socio-ec...

Confounding Factors

One of the downsides of large survey studies, of course, is that the researchers cannot control every relevant factor that could affect the results. In particular, age and religiosity...

The Findings: The Rich Are Busy Being Rich

In short, data from more than 500,000 people suggest that meaning is less important to happiness for wealthy people. This does not mean that wealthy people are struggling to find meaning: Both their meaning and happiness levels are on par with, or even higher than, their lower-in...

Meaning Is A Currency Of The Poor

The more important takeaway is that meaning may be extra important for people without much money. Compared to their wealthier counterparts, poor people suffer high rates of 

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