Money and Happiness Explored

New study finds a positive link between the amount of money you have and your personal state of bliss. So, if you’re a fan of 90s rap music, you might have to change the lyrics to that popular song from Notorious B.I.G. It’s not “Mo Money, Mo Problems” anymore. It’s more money, more happiness.

There used to be a great deal of uncertainty about the connection between money and happiness. Sociology, economic, psychology reviews have been conducted over the years and there have been contradictory results in all cases. A study published in 2010 by Princeton University’s Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that daily happiness increased with income, but over $75,000 happiness plateaued.

Yet, a new University of Pennsylvania team thinks they’ve got it all figured out. Matthew Killingsworth of the University of Pennsylvania found that happiness could indeed rise steadily with income beyond $75,000, without signs of a plateau. The key was to keep making more money. So, if you want to be happier with money, you’ve just got to make more of it.

“In the simplest terms, this suggests that for most people larger incomes are associated with greater happiness,” says Killingsworth, a senior fellow at Penn’s Wharton School and lead paper author.

There is a caveat though. If you’re already an unhappy person, then the effect of money on your perceived state of bliss seems to plateau around $100,000. At least that’s the conclusion put forth by the research team. It goes like this: happiness continues to rise for truly happy people, but miserable people can’t get happier no matter how much money that they make.

Money and Happiness Link

This collaborative study could go a long way in helping people understand the relationship between money and emotional wellbeing. The findings have real-world implications. For example, they could influence tax rates or employee compensation, as well as those considering career choices or weighing what they prioritize in life. It comes as little surprise then that there’s actually a course on happiness at the Harvard Business School.

For entrepreneurs and corporate ladder climbers, the findings of this new study should be bookmarked and collated. There’s an entire culture built around hustling your way to the top by sacrificing life’s little pleasantries. You’ve probably heard someone say, “I’d rather cry in a Benz than cry on a bicycle.” Or what about this one? “I’ll wipe my tears away with hundred dollar bills.”

These slogans all point to the idea that the pursuit of money is its own reward and happiness is irrelevant in the runup to your inevitable greatness. Happiness is viewed as something that can be bought later. At least now those same hustlers can rest assured that they can have happiness if they overtake the earning plateau put forth by the researchers at Penn State University.

That is unless you’re already a miserable person who can’t find happiness already. In that case, it doesn’t matter how much money you make, you’ll never stop wiping your tears with hundred dollar bills. The trick is to find a way to be happy right now while you pursue those millions.

The Keys to Having More Happiness

It seems as though you need to bring happiness with you or else you’ll never find it. And that presents a problem for some people because happiness is such a subjective quality. It differs from person to person. In the general sense, happiness can be defined as the combined value of positive emotions, an absence of negative emotions, and overall life satisfaction. At least that’s the view of psychologists. (Ryan & Deci, 2001).

One way to achieve more happiness is to manage your stress levels. Reduce your stress by learning some time-management techniques. Introduce regular exercise into your routine and take time for yourself. These are a few ways to make positive changes. By taking control of your time, you can reduce your stress significantly.

You can be happy and hustle hard. In general, job performance and happiness go hand in hand. For instance, people who are happy do better jobs, and people who do better jobs are happy people. Your boss knows this (or at least their boss knows it). That’s why recently there are an increasing amount of human resources managers, executives, and other organizational leaders establishing happiness-boosting practices at work. Your boss and your boss’ boss also regularly attend wellness retreats and vacations for this same reason, too.

So, if you want to be happy and work, you need to prioritize your emotional wellness. This can take the form of de-stress days, meditation, or just hanging out with friends. Work on those three qualities that define happiness. Boost your positive emotions, reduce your negative feelings, and try to create a sense of overall satisfaction with your life.

Related: 10 Happiness Myths that Keep You Miserable!

The Keys to Making More Money

The good news from the Penn State University study is that your happiness can increase the more money that you have. Researchers believe that you can get happier the more money that you make. So, you might want to look into ways of breaking through the plateau of $100,000 dollars so that you continue to experience emotional wellness as you become wealthier.

One of the ways to make more money is to study the philosophy of making money. There are few better sources for the philosophy of personal development and wealth management than Jim Rohn. He was an entrepreneur and motivational speaker who became a self-made millionaire by the time he was 30.

“You can have more than you’ve got because you can become more than you are.” – Jim Rohn

If you want to make more money and have more happiness, then you should listen to some of Jim Rohn’s speeches. Here’s one from YouTube.

Another way to increase your earning potential is by studying the science of money which is economics. You can take a course on economics from an educational institution or learn at your own pace. By studying the subtle dynamics of supply and demand, you’ll gain a better understanding of how to leverage the economy to your benefit.

Warren Buffet is one of the richest men in the world and he’s a leading voice in economic strategy. If you want to get more money and be happy, it wouldn’t hurt to pick his brain for key economic knowledge. There’s a great book by Warren Buffet called Wealth Creation By Warren Buffett (Warren Buffett Investment Strategy Book). You can pick up a copy from Amazon for around $25 bucks. It could change your perspective on making more money.

Summing it Up

This new study from Penn State University doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be happier if you just have more money. If you are already an unhappy person, then it doesn’t matter how much money you make, you’ll still be unhappy. However, if you are generally happy, then your level of happiness only rises the more money that you make.

The important takeaway from all this is that you should prioritize your emotional wellbeing before you get lots of money. If you’re the type of person who thinks “Mo Money, Mo Problems” then it’s probably because you’re already not satisfied with your life. More money can never be the solution to happiness, but it is nice to know that you can still enjoy the trappings of financial success without worrying that you’ll suffer emotionally along the way.

READ NEXT: How a Gentleman Never Goes Broke!


Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Reviews Psychology, 52, 141–66.