Passion or paycheck?

Money is not the answer to finding happiness

Money will not buy you happiness.

I know, there are plenty of arguments to go around that money provides comfort, ease and therefore happiness. However, just having loads of cash will not ensure someone is truly happy.

As a student at Ferris, I’m surrounded by peers in the process of picking a major. Sometimes I wonder if it is the passion or the paycheck that drives their decisions. As of late, I’ve heard a lot about figures, but just how much money is enough?

One individual claimed that making under $50,000 a year is chump change. As a public relations major, I’ll be lucky to reach that salary in the first 10 years of my career. Sorry, we aren’t all pharmacy or optometry majors.

In fact, Ferris has always been known as a hard-working, blue-collar university. Ferris offers degrees such as heavy equipment, construction, HVAC and automotive, all of which are good jobs to have upon graduation. Just because someone is not guaranteed $90,000 right out of schooling does not mean they cannot have a happy life.

The money argument is old. I am done trying to measure success or happiness on whatever figure is printed on my paychecks.

There have been numerous studies done that prove money does not provide happiness. Once the basic level of comfort is reached and one can afford to avoid the basic miseries of life, the reward of more money tapers down.

Michael Norton, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, indicates that the impact on happiness due to additional income plateaus around the $75,000 mark.

The reason is simple: humans adapt. In a paper he co-authored, Norton explains that individuals will always get used to an increased amount of money, eventually always desiring more.

Tom Stafford, author of “Mind Hacks”, suggests that once someone has reached a new level of income, they adjust to a new baseline level of happiness. They always need more to stay as happy as before.

A 2008 University of California Santa Barbara paper measured people’s happiness six months after winning the lottery. There was no significant difference in happiness.

When someone is constantly working to gain more money, they have less time for leisure activities, and they even find less joy in small daily activities such as reading a newspaper or holding a conversation with a friend.

Karl Pillemer, a professor of gerontology at Cornell University, conducted a study with 1,200 people who lived through the Great Depression. Their experience taught them that money is not everything.

Their biggest advice to the younger generation is: Do what you love. After you meet the basic level of comfort, focus on relationships and experiences, not money.

Life is finite, so live it to the fullest.

It seems like that generation has it figured out. Be thankful for all the things money cannot buy.