Would More Money Or More Time Bring You Greater Happiness?

New research shows the impact upon happiness and overall wellbeing

Posted Feb 27, 2016

Here's a bit of new research I came across. Its findings sound intuitively obvious, but I think it's important to emphasize: The study found that valuing your time over the pursuit of money is linked to greater overall happiness. This finding highlights one aspect of a link between healthy personal values and psychologically healthy lives. I regularly see this in my work, and wish it would be more soundly emphasized by my fellow mental health professionals.

In the research, a series of studies of nearly 5,000 people was conducted by the University of British Columbia. It found that there's a pretty even divide among people's preferences for valuing their time vs. their money. Unfortunately — but not surprisingly, given our cultural view about what's most "desirable" in life — only about half of the study's participants said they valued their time over money. However, slightly more than half of the people were found to value their time over their money.

The important finding, however, was that the preference for giving priority to time over making more money was associated with greater happiness in life. And happiness, wellbeing, equanimity and psychological health are all interwoven.

The study is described in detail here, and was published in the journal Social Psychological & Personality Science.

Interestingly, the study also found that older people also were more likely to say they valued their time compared to younger people. This raises questions about the impact of age upon one's values and overall life perspectives; and whether the shift in mentality and values hat occurs with increasing age can be supported and grown at earlier stages of life.

The study also noted that a participant's gender or income didn't affect whether they were more likely to value time or money. However, the researchers pointed out they didn't include participants living at the poverty level who may have to prioritize money to survive. That's understandable. But it also underscores how strongly our culture -- incorrectly -- associates increasing your material wealth with personal happiness and wellbeing in life, overall; as though they necessarily go hand in hand.

As many people learn, once you go down that road and make it your life's objective, the pursuit is endless: How much is "enough?" Our social values make the criteria for having "enough" very elusive... and it always lies just beyond grasp.


Progressive Impact

Center for Progressive Development

© 2016 Douglas LaBier

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