What is the Price of Happiness? | The BridgeMaker

What is the Price of Happiness?

By on Nov 02, 2011

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. – Dalai Lama

Article written by contributor Daniel Offer of Chit Chat for Facebook.

According to a 2006 report by Mark Easton of the BBC News, the remote Himalayan community of Bhutan has implemented a policy of Gross National Happiness, or GNH.

Similar to the more commonly recognized GDP or Gross Domestic Product, GNH is a government-implemented policy designed to ensure that decisions made by the government and laws enacted by the government are evaluated for their affect on the country’s GNH.

So, what is an individual’s happiness quotient, and how can a person increase their happiness quotient?

Critics argue that the Bhutan government’s implementation of a country-wide pursuit of happiness will mean sacrifices in material, or financial, growth for its people. Given that a majority of the people in Bhutan still live in poverty relative to the rest of the developed world, the critics may be right, but is the pursuit of happiness an unrealistic goal?


The pursuit of happiness

Aristotle claimed “Happiness depends on ourselves,” and he promoted happiness as a central purpose of human life – indeed as an ultimate human goal.

Epicurus, Socrates, Confucius, John Locke, Thomas Aquinas, Mencius, and countless others have debated the role happiness plays in human life, how to attain happiness, and whether the goal of seeking happiness is worthy or not.

The United States’ Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776, included a sweeping human rights statement for individuals:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It appears while Bhutan may currently be the only country to have an official happiness policy on the books, the desire for happiness seems to be well-documented as a human goal.

Scientists now claim it’s possible to measure a person’s level of happiness and that relatively high levels of happiness can mean that person’s body is healthier and resilient, resistant to disease. In addition, scientists now believe that people who are happy are harder working, more creative, and live longer.

In fact, scientific research has found that people can learn to develop happiness because happiness is a learned concept just as feelings of helplessness are a learned concept.

The recipe for happiness

Citizens who live in highly developed countries are continually encouraged to work harder to gain more things and that those achievements and things are the ingredients to happiness; however, the scientific research does not support this theory.

Scientists do agree that there is no single key to happiness that can be applied to each person. The recipe for happiness includes a mixture of healthy relationships, personal goals, and a sense of meaning in life.

Scientific studies routinely support the fact that people are the happiest when they are performing acts of kindness (either for themselves or others) or when they are engaged in mindful challenges.

According to a now famous American study by psychologists David Lykken and Auke Tellegen in the mid 1990s, social environment and external factors have relatively little to contribute to a person’s individual rate of happiness.

Princeton economist, Angus Deaton, and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, recently found that a certain level of income can, in effect, ensure a person’s happiness.

So, what is the price of happiness

Surprisingly, the researchers found it to be a relatively modest $75,000 per year. Another independent study from the Keirsey Research found a very similar result: The current price of happiness is about $75,000.

The Princeton team found that daily happiness and emotional well-being rises in lock step as an individual’s income rises to that threshold. After reaching that threshold, a person’s happiness quotient plateaus.

What’s so magical about earning $75K?

While the researchers aren’t certain, they did have a number of hypotheses to support their research findings. The researchers surmised that at $75K, a person has what they need to live comfortably while also having enough money left over for pleasurable activities that feed their creative minds, but those earning lower incomes have a hard time overcoming common setbacks such as divorce or illnesses.

While overwhelming amounts of money don’t appear to generate more happiness, earning the baseline income does give an individual enough to cover their needs with a little extra left for playing.

What do you think? What’s your price for happiness? It is $75k per year. It is more? It is less? Or, does happiness have nothing to do with money at all?

More from Daniel Offer

Daniel runs and operates the popular Facebook login app “Chit Chat for Facebook.” This Facebook software application facilitates provides the benefits of Facebook chat from the convenience of your desktop.

Please Spread the Word
Does The BridgeMaker inspire you? Spread it around your social circle! You can retweet on Twitter or share on Facebook— and click here to join The BridgeMaker list and receive “How to Love Consciously” for free!

  • Hi Daniel & Alex,
    It’s an inside job, keep it that way & the monetary value is out of the equation.
    thank you &
    be good to yourself

  • Hi Daniel,

    Thank you for invoking thoughts in us about this happiness post. I am extremely happy to be involved in this happiness creation process.

    I applaud the Bhutan government for taking such a great step implementing what no one else on this planet has implemented. It seems that they as a nation truly understand the formula to happiness. Contentment in life leads to happiness.

    In this respect, I do not buy this price of happiness. The only price we need to pay is to find our own self worth. Happiness comes from doing things that makes us happy, and frankly you do not need to pay for that.

  • Lorrae Carr

    There is definitely a maximum amount, over which no further happiness can be derived. As a single Mum of 2 living in Australia with a rapidly rising cost of living, I’m sure it is closer to $100k. I for one, have chosen to earn less $$ over the last 2 years, to work less hours and have more time to pursue those things that bring me happiness. However, the rising cost of living has driven me back to full time work. I fear the effect it will have on my personal well being and health.

  • I understand the money part of it but I disagree. Money may help but in the end it will never buy happiness, that is more internal than external. The rest of the article I will agree with. Thank you for reminding us of the things that are really important. Being grateful for what we have, and to want what we have, not to want what we don’t have!

  • Tatiana

    Really interesting, I wonder if that’s 75K per person or per family? 🙂

    Thank you very much for such great article.