Can money buy happiness? Experts say it's just the opposite.


The average salary that Americans say would make them happy is $94,696, according to a survey of more than 1,200 people in 2023. But some research shows that money does not buy happiness, it is happy people who buy it. They seem to be more successful.

Tami Muller, a writer and motivator specializing in the field of positive psychology, has studied the science behind happiness for the past five years. Muller says that the relentless pursuit of happiness by getting the best job or making more money is not the way to achieve it.

“Happy people make more money, have better relationships and more success in life, not the other way around,” Muller said.

Unless people use money to buy experiences, get extra time, or make donations to others, it cannot buy happiness, said social scientist Arthur C. Brooks in his Harvard course on happiness management.

What really leads to happiness and fulfillment is choosing practices such as establishing strong social connections and finding a purpose that drives us, not pursuing a specific financial goal, Brooks said.

But being happier in life can lead to financial improvement and success, Muller said. “Happiness is what really leads us to success.”

A systematic review of 225 papers conducted in 2005 concluded that being happy can lead to success in different areas of life, such as income and health.

And when it comes to having better relationships, happier people who live longer often prioritize and strengthen their personal connections, according to a Harvard study that analyzed more than 80 years of data.

“We really have to focus not on how to be more successful, but how we can be happier,” Muller said. “Then success will come in addition.”