Does money or wealth correlate to happiness?
An article on the New York Times says yes, albeit weakly. Here is the data for the 50 states of the USA, comparing mean income to an index of well-being. Yes, a trend is detectable, but it’s pretty weak, too.
An article by Nate Hagens on Oil Drum entitled How $30,000 can be more than $300,000 argues pretty strongly the opposite. The author claims to be much happier than wealthy people of his acquaintance, and than himself at a much wealthier phase. My own anecdotal evidence is similar. I was much happier as a lower middle class child than as an upper middle class child. My father’s abrupt financial success was a terrible blow to my social connectedness and identity.
Hagens also presents this fascinating picture of the great treadmill:
That picture is certainly one that tells a story.
And what are we to make of this story?
The Austin Statesman ran a feature about Jenny Nazak, a woman of my acquaintance who lives very frugally and takes pride in it. Jenny is an interesting character, and her charming wisdom doesn’t come through in the article.
It’s especially interesting how so many people commenting on the story were so threatened by it. (She is fastidiously clean, by the way; the claims to the contrary are inventions. It’s also interesting how certain people feel compelled to make up false evidence when they aren’t comfortable with the truth.)
Do I propose we all live like Jenny? I don’t know. I don;t think going that far is necessary, and I don’t think it’s the path for me, now. Ultimately most of us may have to move in that direction, though, and the fate is nowhere near as bad as it’s made out. Jenny seems to me one of the calmest and happiest people I have ever encountered. I’ll leave you with a couple of Jenny pictures from her Facebook page.
Maybe you would rather have different pleasures, but is a life like that really a fate worse than death? Really?