Recently “Time” magazine discussed a study from a Nobel-winning psychologist who priced out the cost of happiness at about $75,000. (“Time”: September 27, 2010) In direct contradiction to the adage that money can not buy happiness, this study involving some 450,000 people indicated that when a person’s household income falls below the $75,000 level, he or she is most likely to assess their life as “unhappy.”
The ups and downs of daily living were not in view, but rather the overall “big picture” assessment of life. As the authors said, “High incomes don’t bring you happiness, but they do bring you a life you think is better.” Apparently having less money causes a person to feel “ground down” by the troubles of life. Sadness and stress had less impact on those who earned beyond that $75,000 threshold.
For years, one of my friends has jokingly referred to a verse in the book of Ecclesiastes and declared that “Money is the answer for everything.” (For the record, the verse says, “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.”) Understanding the book of Ecclesiastes is a topic for another lengthy musing, but suffice it to say that there are many “cross-currents” in this book as the author attempts to answer the dilemma of whether or not life makes any sense.
The immediate context sheds light on “practical politics” and the behavior of rulers. It is not a commentary of the usefulness of “filthy lucre” (as the King James Version of the Bible might say).
Throughout the scriptures, God has given us a solid context for dealing with money. It is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil (I Tim. 6:10). He makes very clear that we will never be settled or satisfied by the accumulation of money. “He that loves silver will not be satisfied by silver…”(Ecc. 5:10). And, when we are greedy we bring trouble to our homes (see Prov. 15:27).
So, with only about one third of American homes enjoying an income above that $75,000 mark, maybe we should do a bit of re-consideration this week. What actually does bring happiness? Where are the joys of life? How does money impact our ability to engage our loves in meaningful and enjoyable ways?
And as you consider this important topic this week, mull over the words of the Psalmist…”You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Ps. 16:11)
It seems that the real joys come from His right hand…not our wallets!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel