Money can't buy happiness, but happiness can buy you more money

Wait, what? Here's what the research says.

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  • You've heard over and over again that money can't buy happiness, which is mostly true (depending on which research you read), BUT the focus of this article is that the opposite is true: The happier you are, the more money you are likely to earn.

  • Really, though?

  • Here's the science: Researchers took 10,000 young participants and gauged their life satisfaction over several years. Then, they compared that life satisfaction rating to the participants' income. In a nutshell they found that participants who rated themselves as happier at ages 16, 18 and 22 also had higher incomes at age 29 than participants who rated themselves as unhappy.

  • The study reports that young people who rated themselves as "very happy" generally earned ten percent more money than the average income. While it pays to be happy, it hurts much more to be unhappy. Young people who rated themselves as "profoundly unhappy" earned about 30 percent less than the average income.

  • That's encouraging, right? Researchers aren't exactly sure why this correlation exists, but there are some pretty logical ideas out there:

  • Why do happier people make more money?

  • One professional suggests it's because happy people are more optimistic. Their optimism opens doors for them that they're more willing to take, and happy people are more likely to get back on their feet and continue to put forth effort after failing at something.

  • Researchers at the University of Warwick in England found a tie between happy workers and increased productivity. If happy people are more productive, then the career benefits are pretty obvious. When employers are handing out promotions you can bet they're going to the most productive workers.

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  • This article suggests it's a phenomenon that could be partially caused by better performance reviews. Happiness is contagious, and employers love happy workers (if you're wondering why, take a look at the paragraph above). Better performance reviews lead to raises and promotions.

  • So, what?

  • So, be happy! I'm not going to tell you how to make that happen, that's up to you. I realize it's much easier said than done, but the benefits (which extend way beyond mere income) are worth the effort. Take a look at your life and analyze what may be causing unhappiness, or what causes happiness that you can improve. Take baby steps. Try something new. Start today, because you can.

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David Snell is a writer for the FamilyShare team. He's trilingual (English, Spanish and Movie Quotes). He's got a BA in communications and is married to one incredibly fantastic girl.

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