Money does not buy happiness; in fact, planning finances can decrease life satisfaction. A Princeton psychologist describes the connection between wealth and unhappiness.
Can money create unhappiness and anxiety? Research shows that planning finances and thinking about future financial security decreases overall life satisfaction.
Here, a Princeton psychologist shows the connection between wealth and happiness – and when money does increase life satisfaction.
Thinking About Financial Security Decreases Life Satisfaction
Women who think about financial matters too much are less likely to be happy with their lives, says Talya Miron-Shatz, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. Further, simply having enough money doesn’t lead to happiness – the connection between wealth and happiness is more complicated." Even if you are making a hundred grand a year, if you are constantly worried that you are going to get fired, that you are going to lose your health insurance or that you are simply not sure you are going to 'make it,' you are not going to be happy," said Miron-Shatz.
In this study, women at all income levels experienced decreased life satisfaction when they focused on money. Whether they were rich or poor, living in wealthy estates or low income rental housing units, women who fixated on money were more prone to unhappiness and anxiety.
Why Are Women Happier When They Don’t Focus on Money?
In Miron-Shatz’s study, women who didn't fixate on finances such as retirement savings, tuition for college or simply making ends meet, report being happiest of the groups studied. Feeling financially stable is crucial to life satisfaction and happiness – no matter how much money is available." It's not about greed," says Miron-Shatz. "It's about knowing whatever it is you have, be it your McMansion or your motor home, won't be taken away from you."
Money creates unhappiness and anxiety because it isn't connected to positive memories or experiences. Money doesn't offer long-lasting rewards or deep connections. Past research shows that experiences with other people is the most effective way to increase life satisfaction. Money can't buy happiness, though it can increase feelings of security. To be happy and reduce anxiety in life, find a healthy balance between taking care of finances in the present and for the future. And, don't fixate on planning finances or general money matters.