In recent weeks, following the deaths of two cultural icons, the slippery correlation between money and happiness has re-emerged in public conversation.
One frequently cited Princeton University study pins personal happiness and fulfillment to an annual income threshold. According to the study, once individuals achieve an annual income of approximately $75K—a level that addresses life necessities, or “[where] people would think money is not an issue,” as Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton observes in the article “Do We Need $75,000 a Year to be Happy” for Time magazine—they experience diminishing returns on certain happiness levels tied to it. In other words, people who earn an income beyond this threshold experience little increases in their degrees of personal happiness as compared to those who reach that exact level.
Economist Jeffrey Sachs argued that in the U.S., mental well-being, more than income, was the key factor to personal happiness. His conclusion was highlighted in a 2017 United Nations study titled “World Happiness Report.”
The tiny kingdom of Bhutan had also reached the same conclusion. In the late 1990s, Bhutan implemented a whole new way of looking at socioeconomics and personal and collective well-being by codifying them into a Gross National Happy Index, because “Gross National Happiness is more holistic and important than Gross National Product.”
Yet another overlooked aspect in the relationship between money and well-being is having, or lacking, relational connection and community. Research in the past year has shown that young people, predominantly in the West, are facing a loneliness epidemic, while results on the role digital technology plays in fostering meaningful connections are still mixed. On the other hand, the direct experience of community has shown to create many positive benefits on an individual’s well-being, including the inspirational exchange of resources and opportunities, the sharing of lived lessons and experiences, and just plain fun.
At Popular, we’ve always been in the wellness gameⓘ. Whether we lend you advice for your financial health, guide you through the process of buying your first home, or help you plan for the uncertainties of retirement, your well-being is our business. That’s why we’ve decided to join these ongoing public conversations by offering a few suggestions that could help encourage balance and perspective, offset loneliness, and stimulate wellness and well-being — no matter where you are financially.
Make a few of these happiness investments work for you:
1. Go beyond solitary workouts — exercise in community.
Popular recently partnered with New York Road Runners (NYRR) as title sponsor of the 2018 Brooklyn Half Marathon. If anyone knows a thing or two about community running, it’s our friends at NYRR, who like many running organizations across the U.S., encourage group training. Your steps toward physical well-being might literally be profitable — exercise produces more happiness, which can lead to more money.
2. Volunteer or engage in community service with friends.
The benefits of volunteerism on community and personal wellness are summed up by the “Happiness Effect.” Research proves that the more you volunteer, the happier you become. This summer, lend your artistic talents to a neighborhood mural project or hands to a home renovation project. You’ll feel happier for it.
The effects of laughter on holistic well-being are plenty and can include helping facilitate personal connections, reducing stress, and boosting memory. There might be something to those cat videos after all — they’re not only adorable and funny, they’re also medicinal.
We encourage you to strive for your financial health and prosperity because alongside the goal of “deeper pockets,” your investments into deeper wellness may reap just as many benefits.