“Money can’t buy happiness” and other clichés

life satisfaction

I hate clichés, and we’ve heard the “money can’t buy happiness” one so often, it’s kind of lost its mojo. But honestly, if I could give each of you a million dollars to prove that it won’t make you happy (at least not for long), I really, really would. The only thing I can give you is facts to prove my point, which is almost the same. OK, not really, but these facts are still kind of interesting.

I took data we collected from our Life Satisfaction Test and created three distinct groups:

  • Group 1: People who are satisfied with their financial health, but not really satisfied with their physical or psychological health.
  • Group 2: People who are satisfied with their physical health, but not so much with their financial or psychological health.
  • Group 3: People who are satisfied with their psychological health, but not so much with their financial or physical health.

With me so far? Good. Here’s what I did next: I compared how satisfied each group is with different aspects of their life (relationships, job, social life), and then looked at different traits related to life satisfaction, like optimism, resilience, sense of freedom, sense of belonging, etc.

What the data reveals is that people who are psychologically healthy are much more satisfied with their life, even without financial security or perfect physical health:

Overall level of life satisfaction (on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 being Total Satisfaction)

  • Score for group 1 (financial): 55
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 56
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 70

Satisfaction with social life

  • Score for group 1 (financial): 56
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 54
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 70

Satisfaction with professional life

  • Score for group 1 (financial):57
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 51
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 64

Satisfaction with boss

  • Score for group 1 (financial): 60
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 53
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 65

Sense of Purpose/Meaning (a high score is conducive to life satisfaction)

  • Score for group 1 (financial): 69
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 70
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 91

Sense of Accomplishment

  • Score for group 1 (financial): 54
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 47
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 71

Sense of Belonging

  • Score for group 1 (financial): 53
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 51
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 71

Sense of Freedom

  • Score for group 1 (financial): 60
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 60
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 67

Positive outlook on life

  • Score for group 1 (financial): 50
  • Score for group 2 (physical): 51
  • Score for group 3 (psychological): 70

So here are a few more clichés we can add:

  • In the absence of depression, anxiety, anger, guilt or other unhealthy mental states, life is pretty good.
  • Psychologically healthy people still love (or at least really like) their life, even if they’re not particularly wealthy or physically healthy.
  • Money can buy you a lot, but not a healthy mind.
  • Financial security does not guarantee that all your worries will go away.

The point is, if your self-esteem is crappy, you have anger issues, you tend to worry excessively, or you haven’t been able to let go of guilt from an event years ago, that raise, bonus, or even lottery jackpot won’t make a whole lot of difference. After a while, the unresolved emotions will pop up again…you’ll just be walking around your 15-bedroom mansion or driving your Lamborghini Reventon when they do. Don’t smirk – it sounds good, but I think we’ve all seen plenty of celebrities psychologically crash and burn to understand that money does squat if you’re a hot mess.

So what’s the lesson here? As my friend would say so very eloquently, “Get your *bleep* together.” Focus more on the pursuit of psychological well-being – then, if you still want the wealth, buy your lottery ticket.

lottery

Insightfully yours,

Queen D