How Important Is Financial Security to Happiness?

Photo credit: eren {sea+prairie}, CC BY 2.0.

To continue this morning’s discussion of “the happiness factor,” let’s go to The Atlantic:

So what’s the right way to think about effort and happiness? Should I be trying for “happiness” per se—or something more magnanimous, like purpose or meaning?

Or money? Is happiness actually all about money? That would be a real twist.

James Hamblin interviews Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons From the World’s Happiest People (and various other “Blue Zones” books, e.g. The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People) about what actually makes people happy.

Buettner’s first suggestion is to live near water. Here’s his second tip:

Financial security is also, obviously, huge. It really does deliver more happiness over time than most anything that money can be spent on—after your needs are taken care of and you maybe treat yourself occasionally. If you have money left over, you’re much better paying down your mortgage or buying insurance or signing up for an automatic savings plan than you are buying a new gadget or new pair of shoes.

Financial security delivers more happiness over time than almost anything money can be spent on.

The rest of the interview is almost an anticlimax, although there’s an interesting part near the end where Buettner discusses investing in friendships the same way you’d invest in experiences:

[…] if you think of friends sort of like long-term adventures, it kind of meets the experience-focused criterion.

Read the whole thing, and let us know whether you agree with Buettner’s advice—and if you live near water, let us know whether you feel happier as a result.

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