The Best Ingredient for a Happy New Year: It Might Not Be What You ThinkSubmitted by Bernhardt Wealth Management on December 30th, 2019
An abundance of research from psychological and sociological researchers suggests the truth of a piece of common wisdom: money really does not buy happiness—after a certain point. Actually, having enough money to meet one’s basic needs does correlate strongly with personal happiness, but once those needs are met, research indicates that more money does not equate with more happiness. In fact, at some point in the wealth-building process, more money can actually lead to a decline in overall feelings of happiness and contentment.
Recently, two British researchers have completed one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken of happiness and its correlation with external circumstances. Examining millions of books and newspaper articles published since 1820 in four countries—the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Italy—they have concluded that the most critical ingredient of happiness is not wealth. They have affirmed, instead, that the ability to meet basic human needs is the most important indicator of happiness. Also, by correlating ratings of “aggregate happiness” against historical backgrounds, they have concluded that certain periods in history have exhibited higher overall happiness levels than others.
Not surprisingly, they found that periods of war or widespread economic distress are typically also times of deep personal pain and unhappiness. This makes sense, given the assumption that these would also be times when many people would be deprived of the ability to meet basic personal needs for themselves or their loved ones. This could also indicate another common-sense conclusion: that health and generally positive feelings about the future are foundational requirements for personal happiness.
In the United States, for example, the researchers’ measurements indicate a period of deep national malaise initiated toward the end of the Vietnam War, when “national happiness” reached its lowest ebb since the depths of World War II. By contrast, the last “happiness peak” in this country was sometime in the late 1920s, just before the stock market crash that helped launch the Great Depression. In fact, according to the researchers, the United States is only now beginning to reach an aggregate happiness level comparable to that which we experienced in the late 1920s. As we head into 2020, could we be at the beginning of a whole new “Roaring 20s” cycle?
Whatever the new year brings to you and your family and friends, we at Bernhardt Wealth Management wish only the best for you. In good times and bad, we are here to offer counsel, support, and the insights gleaned from Nobel Prize–winning research as you chart your own personal course toward financial and personal success.