If we classify people by financial criterion in three classes: rich people, average people and poor people, which class do you think is the happiest? Our culture has determined us to think that if we get richer then we’ll get happier automatically, that more and more money does bring us more and more happiness. Over time, there was assumed a close connection between richness and happiness. But are there strong evidences for this assumption or is this only a popular and illusory belief.
Almost all agree that rich people can’t be otherwise than happy, because they may fulfill nearly all their needs and desires. I agree that rich people may have a full access to happiness but don’t think that being rich is enough or is a sufficient condition to be happy. There are a lot of other factors that compete for our happiness. Yes, they compete and if one of them is less fed your whole happiness is affected. But I’ll not talk here about these other factors.
Let’s analyze the condition of poor people. It’s evident that these people can’t reach happiness if they may not satisfy first their basic needs: food and shelter. And if others don’t help them to cope with their problems. Is too much to say that they are unhappy? No, it isn’t. Imagine a beggar who have no shelter, sleeping on streets and eating only as much as to survive. Can he be happy? I think he can’t.
What about average people?! Are they less happy than rich people?! The studies show that difference between level of happiness reported by rich people and that reported by average people isn’t significant. So, we can’t say that rich people are happier than average people.
The big difference occur when an individual advance from the poor class to the average class. This happen because he get enough food, a fine house, a nice car and enough money to travel and fulfill other reasonable desires. But when we buy a bigger house than our fine one, when we buy a more expensive car than our nice one, the difference isn’t significant on the long run. Our level of happiness will rise at the beginning but for a short time only, because we get used to these new things. So, our level of happiness get back and we’ll need something new in order to increase it over another short period of time.