All my life I’ve heard people say money cannot buy happiness.
Are they wrong?
Two professors at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs set out to determine whether the saying is true. They analyzed 450,000 survey responses to learn if money can, indeed, buy happiness.
The research report defined “emotional well-being” as the emotional qualities of everyday experience, and “life evaluation” as the thoughts people have about their life. The study indicated that income and education are closely related to life evaluation, but factors such as health and loneliness are more strongly related to daily emotions.
So, can money buy happiness?
The researchers determined that emotional well-being was related to income, but the level of happiness did not increase beyond an annual income of $75,000. They concluded that “high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.” It seems that money can buy a type of happiness that involves satisfaction, but not necessarily pleasant emotions.
Even if money could buy happiness, is happiness what we really want?
The answer to this question seems like an obvious yes. Who doesn’t want to be happy? Certainly not me. And yet…if my happiness is dependent on my circumstances, what does that say about me? That my well-being hangs on temporary and shifting circumstances? That my happiness is controlled by the consequences of events and the influences of people who may not care about me or even know me? It’s a rollercoaster way of life. I know, I’ve tried living that way, and it’s no party!
If my emotional well-being is going to depend on anything, I want it to depend on something that won’t capriciously shift or on someone who is always faithful, dependable, and trustworthy.
Joy is what I’m after. The joy of knowing to whom I belong. The God of the universe calls me His child, and welcomes me to call Him Father. The joy of knowing He is sovereign. As Kay Arthur is fond of saying, nothing touches my life that hasn’t first been filtered through His fingers of love. This doesn’t mean I won’t have problems. Trust me, I’ve had my share, and then some! But it does mean I can rest in the knowledge that what God allows in my life is for His glory and my ultimate and eternal good.
Money may or may not buy happiness, but Jesus Christ has purchased my joy. It’s this joy that motivates me to teach and to write so others might have it as well.
How about you?
What or who is your source of happiness?
What or who is your source of joy?