New Study Says the Excessively Rich Aren't Any Happier. So Who Is?

By: Sara Novak

Digital Vision/Thinkstock
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

When Princeton University released a study showing that people needed an annual income of $75,000 per year per household and no more to be happy, I wasn't that surprised. Above that amount, more cash has no effect on "emotional well-being," or how elated, sad or stressed you feel on a day-to-day basis, according to the research.

According to the Washington Post, people have a threshold of financial security and material well-being and once they've reached it, there are diminishing returns on salaries exceeding that amount. Financial security is certainly an aspect of happiness. That is-- paying mortgage or rent, utilities, food, and then whatever is left over for savings--but beyond that, money has little bearing on our outlook and overall happiness.


Happiness Beyond Financial Security

First of all, happy people live in the present and avoid worrying about the past and the future. This is a yogic perspective but it's also just a good way to live. We cannot control what happens in the future and we certainly cannot control what has already happened. All we know for sure is the here and the now. And if you can't enjoy the present, what's the point?

Happy people don't let desires rule them. Instead of thinking that they need this or that to be happy, they're content with what they already have. The planet benefits from this sort of happiness, because it promotes anti-consumerism. You don't need to buy, buy, buy to be happy.


Attachments degrade happiness as well. Yes, you may enjoy a cup o' Joe in the morning, but if you don't have it you're not going to turn into hell on wheels. And you love to meditate and do yoga in the morning, but if you miss a day, it isn't the end of the world. It's about being flexible and willing to take what comes at you without creating stress and tension.

Healthy People Are Happy People

And healthy people are certainly happy people. When you feel crappy, it's hard to focus on anything but that and searching for serenity and peace is often much more difficult when you're plagued with illness. That's where your diet comes in. Your diet is your daily medicine and it should be treated as such.

"What you eat can affect your mood and how well your brain works," says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology research scientist and coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet. And as long as you're not bingeing or mindlessly munching to soothe yourself, feeding your mood can be healthy and effective.


Foods like oatmeal, avocado, wine, and pistachios are known to promote a sense of well being and calm and walnuts, spinach, and chocolate are all known as serotonin boosting foods.

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