Affluenza Epidemic: Money and Happiness Reexamined

It would seem obvious that money makes everything better. It would seem obvious because money is tied to things like health, comfort and opportunity, all of which are happy-making concepts. Yet there has been a backlash against the power of money recently, and it seems that as we become more financially successful, we become less psychologically fulfilled.

The problem has to do in part with the expectations that are not met when wealth is attained, and in part with a consumer culture that couples the acquisition of products with happiness .

In our proudly capitalist society, the golden rings are more like golden shackles that result in the increased stress and responsibility that financial success brings. We assume that at a certain point we’ll be able to throw in the towel and enjoy the wealth we have accrued, but that point keeps getting farther down the line.

Additionally, advertisers frequently use the idea of affluence to sell products that promise a superior life, such as Louis Vuitton , whose ads feature aerial shots of the America’s Cup, fragrances like “Good Life,” “Cashmere Mist” or “Portfolio, “ and companies like Polo that have created an entire brand around a posh sport that no one actually plays.

As that the upper echelons start to become satiated with their level of wealth, there is a realization that the good life that was presumed to be part of the package is something that money cannot necessarily buy. Perhaps a value shift toward that which is truly important and away from the bottom line will lead to less disappointment down the road.

In the meantime, we’ve scoured the web for studies on those things in life that actually do lead to happiness, and come up with the following (in no particular order):


Surprisingly, what doesn’t lead to happiness?

Also, some studies show that sex leads to happiness, but money doesn’t lead to sex. Go figure.

Other Evaluations of Money and Happiness