No Price Tag on Happiness

Think that Porsche and boat and beach house you have been dreaming of would actually make you happy?   Think again.  Economist Richard Easterlin of the University of Southern California examined data from 1,500 people surveyed repeatedly over a 28-year period.  He found that while healthy people are generally happier than unhealthy ones and married people are happier than unmarrieds, increases in wealth and material possessions improve happiness only briefly.

The reason is a pair of forces known as hedonic adaptation and social comparison.  Translation: when you get something new, the thrill quickly wears off, and even if it didn’t, there’s always someone out there who has something better.  The answer?  Quit the money chase? or at least run more slowly? and devote more time to family, friends and home.  These things, the study shows, really do pay higher returns in happiness.

From the 2003-Sep-08 issue of TIME magazine; By JEFFREY KLUGER