The Happiness Curve

Does money buy happiness?

We are told that it doesn’t. The path of growth would tell us that we don’t need things to be happy. 

But I’m not sure it’s so black and white. 

If we were to give to a homeless person, a house, a fridge full of food, a warm shower, and a comfortable bed, I think we can all agree that they would be happier!

I know I would be.

But if another individual were to become wealthy - a millionaire with a couple mansions, fancy cars, extravagant food, boats, cabins, pieces of art, multiple businesses, subordinates waiting on their every desire, everything they could imagine - chances are they would be miserable.

We see evidence of this in celebrities, politicians, and lottery winners.

So what’s the answer? How can things both cause happiness and be the demise of happiness?

It’s because happiness follows a curve. (This curve isn’t my idea, but one I picked up from a book. Forgive me, but I don’t remember which.)

Imagine a graph where the vertical axis represents your level of happiness, and the horizontal axis represents the amount of things you have.

At the bottom corner, you have no things, and very little happiness. But as you get more things, you get more happiness. Shelter, food, clean water, a few treats here and there, cause a legitimate increase in your happiness. 

And so you accumulate more and more things! I mean if a little was good, more must be better, right?! 

But at one point, you reach a tipping point. And as you accumulate more things, your happiness actually decreases. 

That just dons’t make sense to you. So far, more stuff = more happiness, so you accumulate more and more, seeking the happiness that you once had because of your stuff. 

Unfortunately, the more you accumulate, the less happiness you experience. 

It’s only when you wake up and realize your happiness follows a curve, rather than a direct relationship with your things, that you start to uncover where your true sources of happiness are.

Are you as happy as you could be? 

If you aren’t happy, is it because you legitimately need more things? Be intentional; what are the things that you really need? 

Are you trying to use things to be more happy, but actually causing more harm than good?

Where in your life could you simplify to live more happily?

This Christmas season, before you get more stuff, ask yourself if it will bring you up or down on the happiness curve.

Here’s to Conquering Stress,

The Stress Experts

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