Exactly How Much Money You Need to Make to Be Happy

Your wealth isn't the only thing that matters. Your personality does, too.

No matter how often we hear the adage "money can't buy happiness," it's hard not to look at the lifestyles of the some of the world's wealthiest people and not think, "Man, if I had my own private island, I'd be as chipper as Richard Branson, too."

But, according to research published by the American Psychological Association, whether or not money makes you happy depends entirely on your personality. In a study that was published on Monday in the journal Emotion, 1,519 people were asked questions about their household income along with questions designed to measure the seven emotions that scientists consider make up "happiness:" amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, enthusiasm, love, and pride.

Those who had higher incomes tended to associate most with emotions that focused on themselves, like amusement, contentment and pride. Those with lower incomes, on the other hand, associated most with emotions that focused on others, like compassion and love. When it comes to enthusiasm, no difference was recorded.

What the study suggests then, is that people who are wealthy might be happy because they take pleasure in their personal achievements, whereas those with a more modest income might be happy because they take more pleasure in their interpersonal relationships.

"These findings indicate that wealth is not unequivocally associated with happiness," lead author Paul Piff, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine, said. "What seems to be the case is that your wealth predisposes you to different kinds of happiness. While wealthier individuals may find greater positivity in their accomplishments, status, and individual achievements, less wealthy individuals seem to find more positivity and happiness in their relationships, their ability to care for and connect with others."

Of course, Piff admits that poverty carries with it a slew of challenges and difficulties, many of which have been meticulously documented in research over the last few decades. What his survey indicates, however, is that many of these people seem to be able to find joy in things that rich people don't care about as much.

"Wealth doesn't guarantee you happiness, but it may predispose you to experiencing different forms of it—for example, whether you delight in yourself versus in your friends and relationships. These findings suggest that lower-income individuals have devised ways to cope, to find meaning, joy and happiness in their lives despite their relatively less favorable circumstances."

If you're looking for a precise, happiness-making number however, previous studies have shown that while the difference in happiness between someone who earns $25,000 and $75,000 is fairly decent, the correlation between wealth and happiness taps off after $75,000. Since the most recent study is from 2010, then adjusting for inflation, the magic, happiness-making number would be $83,000. And for more happiness secrets, don't miss these 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy. 

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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