Hearing that money doesn't buy happiness won't be the most surprising thing you hear today, but you might be surprised to learn that there is a cutoff for the money-equals-happiness equation lying somewhere near the middle class. From Newsweek:
"Psychologists have spent decades studying the relation between wealth and happiness," writes Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert in his best-selling "Stumbling on Happiness," "and they have generally concluded that wealth increases human happiness when it lifts people out of abject poverty and into the middle class but that it does little to increase happiness thereafter."
But when more money means expanded choice, why aren't the rich happier?According to Newsweek, the choices presented to the wealthy are psychologically exhausting:
Studies show that people like selecting from among maybe half a dozen kinds of pasta at the grocery store but find 27 choices overwhelming, leaving them chronically on edge that they could have chosen a better one than they did. And wants, which are nice to be able to afford, have a bad habit of becoming needs (iPod, anyone?), of which an advertising- and media-saturated culture create endless numbers. Satisfying needs brings less emotional well-being than satisfying wants.
The lesson: If you can get yourself into the comfort of middle class living, keep in mind that the longer and harder hours you're putting in to climb the ladder from this point on probably won't make you any happier.