Does money buy happiness? What about good health?

by phil on Monday May 3, 2004 4:04 PM
Seligman, happiness

More goodies from Seligman's Authentic Happiness

H = S + C + V

H: your enduring level of happiness
S: your set range
C: circumstances of your life
V: factors under your voluntary control

This post focuses on C, circumstances such as religion, wealth, health etc.. and it's impact on your happiness.

Seligman, the once-president of the American Psychological Association, has surveyed the surveys and this is a summary:

If you want to lastingly raise your level of happiness by changing the external circumstances of your life, you should do the following:

  1. Live in a wealthy democracy, not in an impoverished dictatorship (a strong effect)
  2. Get married (a robust effect, but perhaps not causal)
  3. Avoid negative events and negative emotion (only a moderate effect)
  4. Acquire a rich social network (a robust effect, but perhaps not causal)
  5. Get a religion (a moderate effect)

As far as happiness and life satisfaction are concerned, however, you needn't bother to do the following:

  1. Make more money (money has little or not effect once you are comfortable enough to buy this book, and more materialistic people are less happy)
  2. Stay healthy (subjective health, not objective health matters)
  3. Get as much education as possible (no effect)
  4. Change your race or move to a sunnier climate (no effect)

Together, circumstances account for no more than between 8 and 15 percent of the variance in happiness.

If you are skeptical, please read the book before passing judgment, it's in your best interests.

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