This Is How Much Money You Need to Be Happy, According to Science

But not too much!

They say money can’t buy happiness, but let’s be honest, they say a lot of things – and they’re not always right.

When it comes to income, scientists say there actually is an ideal yearly amount we can earn to feel emotionally content and satisfied – and believe it or not, if you have too much money, you may actually start creeping back into unhappy territory.

“That might be surprising as what we see on TV and what advertisers tell us we need would indicate that there is no ceiling when it comes to how much money is needed for happiness, but we now see there are some thresholds,” explains psychologist Andrew T. Jebb from Purdue University.

Jebb and his team analysed data from the Gallup World Poll, an international survey of more than 1.7 million individuals from 164 countries.

When they examined participants’ responses on questions relating to life satisfaction and well-being – measures of what’s called subjective well-being (SWB) – they discovered the magic number for ‘income satiation’ is a global phenomenon, but one that varies considerably around the world.

Nonetheless, when you average the results out, we now have a rough idea of just how much $ = 🙂 in US dollars.

“We found that the ideal income point is $95,000 for life evaluation [overall life satisfaction] and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being [day-to-day happiness],” Jebb says.

“Again, this amount is for individuals and would likely be higher for families.”

Of course, the global average masks how satiation points are significantly higher in some countries than in others, broadly associated with how wealthy each nation is comparatively.

Life satisfaction costs $125,000 in Australia, $105,000 in North America, and $100,000 in Western Europe – but only $70,000 in Southeast Asia, $45,000 in Eastern Europe, and $35,000 in Latin America.

Globally, it’s cheaper for men to be satisfied with their lives ($90,000) than women ($100,000), and for people of low ($70,000) or moderate education ($85,000) than people with higher education ($115,000).

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the study is how it highlights that once you’ve hit income satiation, you may want to freeze your earning capacity right there.

“Another important phenomenon within our data was the presence of turning points at which income levels after satiation saw consistent decrements in happiness,” the authors explain.

“It has been speculated for some time that very high incomes may lead to reductions in SWB.”

The authors detected this phenomenon in their own results, but noted it was only evident in terms of life evaluation (not emotional well-being), and limited to just five of the nine regions considered in the study: Western Europe/Scandinavia, Eastern Europe/the Balkans, East Asia, Latin America/the Caribbean, and Northern America.

As for why the pattern isn’t found elsewhere, we don’t know for sure, but the researchers speculate it’s associated with the demands that come with higher wages.

“Theoretically, it is presumably not the higher incomes themselves that drive reductions in SWB, but the costs associated with them,” the researchers write.

“High incomes are usually accompanied by high demands (time, workload, responsibility, and so on) that might also limit opportunities for positive experiences (for example, leisure activities).”

If that’s the case, it gels with a lot of other research that’s shown money buys happiness but only if you have free time to enjoy it, by spending it on the right things, and not prioritising money over time.

There’s lots of ways to encourage feelings of happiness in your daily existence, but make sure you don’t buy into the most common misconceptions about where smiles come from.

There’s no enjoyable shortcuts here folks, but the good news is we’re all getting more happy all the time – in a manner of speaking, anyway – because old folks are some of the happiest folks around.

Source:  Nature Human Behaviour.

Money And Doctors, Shame Or Pride

Born to three generations of government employees, I was so full of ideology when I finished my medical school. I wouldn’t practice, I said. I would only serve the poor, I proclaimed; a good teacher would I become, I yearned. And so was it, over the next few years. I wasn’t unhappy at all. I had very few needs and no serious financial commitments. Life was good, and little things kept me happy. But over time, I started feeling uncomfortable. Was I doing enough? I fancied myself a good surgeon-to-be, and as and otolaryngologist, I needed technology to go a step higher. But that needed money. I decided to work for it, but also balefully remembered my classmate in school, a perpetual cynic, who told me once, without mercy- “soon, you will be just the same as everyone else- do things only for money, and rot inside”.

I so badly wanted to prove him wrong. Then, as if by sheer chance, I happened to watch a TV interview of the well-known psephologist. He said, and I felt it strike a chord inside me – “the middle class are often bought up thinking that making money is bad- we need to get out of it and understand that to make money well is actually satisfying and benefits a lot of people”. Voila, I thought- I can actually relate to that. Lets now fast forward thirty years. I now am a surgeon with considerable repute, have a really good, well equipped hospital, employ over a hundred people. No, I didn’t have any inherited wealth, I didn’t marry for money, neither did I have wealthy friends who would pitch in for me. I also didn’t, much to my childhood friend’s surprise, make money the wrong way. All of us here work to protocol, never prescribe a drug, or order a test unnecessarily, refuse more surgeries than we do and there’s a strict no-no to pharma funding of any kind. How was this possible?

There’s no magic here, no providential hand. Just a formula that can just as easily be adapted by anyone else with reasonable skill and a little bit of guts. Let me try and enumerate what made me do well. We must remember that for most of us, our only earning comes from the patient. This money is never given thankfully- illness is a burden and the expense related to it’s alleviation is given grudgingly. Understanding this basic equation must make us strive to make each rupee of that money count for the patient. So, the first recommendation from my side to an aspiring entrepreneur is to make sure that you give value. We have long been caught in a vortex of trying to undercut our charges to gain practice. It is a losing game. We have to add value, albeit slowly, for everything we do. A better waiting room, more efficient patient management, transparency and education, everything counts for the patient, and they would actually like paying for it. It is simple economics. If you intend to spend an x amount of money to increase the facility in your clinic/hospital, you need to spread it over the patients that you see now, and look at the increase in patient flow due to the better system to make your profits. You just can’t work the other way, it is foolish to invest heavily and think they would come pouring it just because the waiting room rivals a luxury suite.

The increase in your professional worth is what should give you profits. Let us take an imaginary scenario. There are often patients who present with a symptom that could be because of two different conditions. Doctor A, is cautious, ill trained and afraid of failure. He would investigate heavily, and when that too doesn’t give him enough clues, gives the patient medications for both conditions. The patient gets better, yes, but the doctor would never know which medicine has made him so. The spiral begins, and patients get investigated more and more, medicated more and more, side effects of treatment spirals and skill acquisition is minimal. Let us look now a doctor B. He is shrewd, well trained and is not afraid to experiment. He starts with the same uncertainty. He, by using an analytical, but yet unskilled brain, thinks in favor of one. He doesn’t investigate much because he trusts his instincts. If the patient gets better, he is elated- he is proven right. If he doesn’t, there’s always option 2. To prevent the discomfiture of an irate patient irked by the delay in treatment, he uses kind words and counseling to reassure the patient that he is only trying to avoid unnecessary medications and investigations. Over time, doctor B gets more and more skilled. He now has acquired that sixth sense which tells him what the patient might be having instead of over investigating. If the doctor B has entrepreneurial skills, he will now increase his charges. What the lab gets and what the pharmacy gets is now his. Money, now flows into the coffers, and a beaming patient praises the doctor. Doctor A is, unfortunately, still despondent.   The same goes for investing in surgical equipment.

If you think that a particular instrument would greatly add to your results, buy it, but do not look at charging for it every time you use it to repay your loans. It creates stress and stress reduces your results. You would buy a Laser, simply because the salesman would pitch in with a formula “Sir, you might have ten laser cases a month, so x times ten times twelve, your loans are over in so many years” It is a gambit we fall for. I would buy a Laser only if it significantly improves my results. I would never even advertise or boast about it. I would use that in my counseling for a surgery if I think its absolutely necessary. But I would increase charges over my entire operation list for the month to make sure I am not pressurized to use it when I don’t really need it. Thereby I have only marginally increased charges; I have no stress if I don’t have any laser cases for a month, and if I do get one, I do a pretty damn good job. And this creates more patients, while shouting from the rooftop that I have an expensive laser would only have created suspicion, and sometimes, jealousy. We have to prioritize our investments- I would rather buy a good equipment than say, a fancy car or a palatial house that I can very well do without. If my choice of the purchase was founded on good grounds, it is often that the house and the car would follow, even if you can’t really count on it! Similarly, we must understand that a well run professional medical establishment offers far greater returns that those fancy stock market juggle.

I was once told about this by some one who I consider my mentor and hold that close to my heart. My only real investment is my hospital- and if I retire, that should give me returns in decent terms for as long as I live. Another important lesson I received early on in life is from a senior neurosurgeon colleague. He once told me that it was a dangerous ploy to keep referral patients over 10%. It surprised me then, but the logic was irrefutable. Referrals are fickle. A doctor who refers to you can stop referring to you, even if he is not unhappy with you. But your patients, those who come to you for solace and comfort, are your real saviors. They bring more convinced patients who in turn, become your well wishers again. Many doctors spend a lot of efforts on placating the referees, little knowing that it is really not worth the effort. If you spend a quarter of that time with your own patients, the results are astounding. Nearly thirty years in practice, my referrals are still less that that magical figure. And I am in no way unhappy. A very good financial trick is to stick to the things you do best, or add someone to the team who would do something better than you. I have often seen people holding on to patients too long, and not referring out of fear of losing them. Referrals should be made early and to the appropriate person, not someone who calls you home for a weekend treat! Over time, you might lose friends, but keep only the good ones who value your intention. As I have surmised before, earning trust is worth its weight in gold, and nothing improves your stature more than the feeling you create that if you can’t do it, you will send them to someone who can.

You also need to plan a retirement. For many doctors, this is unthinkable. To prevent burn outs, and to improve your family and social life, this is of paramount importance. A simple formula is to calculate how much you need now, once your loans are paid off and then plan to have that over the next twenty years, giving 10% to inflation. So, after you have reached the fifties and if you’ve been successful, you need to delegate your practice to deserving youngsters who respect your principles of practice and think about a system which gives you a share of the practice you have so painfully built up. You should, at that time, put yourself at a premium. Reducing your consulting hours and increasing your charges will allow you to work less for the same amount of money. And, for your social responsibility to be satisfied, you can also use your free time, involving your family too, to do your mite to the society, what appeals to your heart. Finally, you need to invest in your health. Eating properly, exercising regularly and reducing stress will help you to enjoy what you’ve reaped. And for those unfortunate times when ill health can strike without warning, it is important to be properly insured. An ideal health insurance should cover even the costliest procedure done, and should cover your family too. I am currently insured for 95 lakhs, and feel safe under its umbrella, even if I don’t even have a health issue at present. It might look an overkill, but considering the peace of mind it offers- priceless.

Even more adequate should be your life insurance. This should give your family the same income even with you not being around. And do junk those policies that offer you a lot of investment benefit. The health and life insurance policies are useless for me if I am in good health and if I am alive- but I would rather be happy that I am healthy and alive! What made me want to pen this all down? Being a person who cannot resist being on social media for doctors, I see a lot of frustration and angst. I see many who feel that they are being hunted, victimized for no fault of theirs. I see people who feel that they do not receive their due. At the other end, I see the public who are critical, and out to malign the medical community for the wrong doing of a few. And there seems to be no way to make these radically different view points meet. It appears that the level of frustration is related to the failure of the medical profession to make it pay, and for the customers to realize what they are paying for. Let us not kid ourselves anymore- medical profession is just another profession, and it is no more noble than that of a lowly servant nor any worthier than that of a soldier. We have only one small difference- we aren’t in control of many things that we deal with. We deal with uncertainties and changing patterns of  ever increasing knowledge that rival most other professions. But we cannot, under the cloak of that nebulousness, neither wallow in self pity, nor puff out in artificial pride. We have to deal with this as a profession, and aim to give our very best, and by making sure we are doing so, to get in return what is due. Once we realize this, most our our helplessness should disappear. I do not consider myself a special person, and I do not ever want to think I am indispensable to many. I am here to do a job as best as I can, and with that, take my due. No one, I think, should ever suspect that I am taking more than I could, or attempting to do more than I should. This is all that I ever need.

Science finds money can buy happiness, if you spend it right

Despite decades of people telling us that money can’t buy happiness (“it’s all about the experiences!”), researchers have found new evidence that spending actually can make our lives a whole lot better – as long as you buy the right things.

So what should you purchase in order to bring yourself some much-needed joy? The scientists looked at nearly 77,000 bank transactions in the UK, and found that people who spend money on purchases that suited their personality traits were more satisfied with life.

That sounds pretty obvious, but this is one of the first studies to show that spending money on ourselves – and not just giving it awaycan actually make us happier, if we do it right.

“Historically, studies had found a weak relationship between money and overall wellbeing,” said lead researcher Joe Gladstone from the University of Cambridge. “Our study breaks new ground by mining actual bank-transaction data and demonstrating that spending can increase our happiness when it is spent on goods and services that fit our personalities and so meet our psychological needs.”

But in order to unlock the benefits of spending money, you first need to understand yourself.

In the study, the researchers worked with a major bank and convinced 625 anonymous participants to take a test that measured how strong they were in the ‘Big Five’ personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

They also asked them to take a life satisfaction questionnaire, and looked at their bank transaction data over a six-month period to see what they were spending on. Almost 77,000 transactions were broken down into categories associated with personality traits.

You can see an example of those categories below, and where they fall in each personality trait (either low or high). And believe it or not, some personality types out there don’t mind spending their money on traffic fines:

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 4.15.47 pm

The researchers found that not only did people spend more money on things linked to their strong personality traits – for example, extraverts spent on average US$73 more per year on pub nights than introverts – but they were also happier the more they spent on things that suited their personality.

Not only that, but life satisfaction was more closely tied to those ‘personality appropriate’ purchases, rather than total income or total spending – so it wasn’t just that these people were enjoying more money, it was what they were spending it on making all the difference.

The team backed this up with a second experiment that involved giving people one of two vouchers: either to spend at a bar, or to spend at a bookshop. The extroverts who were forced to spend their vouchers at a bar were happier than introverts, while the introverts were more satisfied than the extroverts when they spent the book voucher.

“Our findings suggest that spending money on products that help us express who we are as individuals could turn out to be as important to our wellbeing as finding the right job, the right neighbourhood or even the right friends and partners,” said one of the researchers, Sandra Matz.

Although the research hands down some pretty great advice for all of us – think about how what you’re about to buy fits your personality traits before you spend – the scientists also hope it could one day help online retailers make better suggestions.

“By developing a more nuanced understanding of the links between spending and happiness, we hope to be able to provide more personalised advice on how to find happiness through the little consumption choices we make every day,”said Matz.

After all, money does make the world go round.


The Story of a Lost Soul Who Forgot to Dream.

“Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you.” ~ Marsha Norman

A while back I went shopping with one of my friends. As we were looking at all the purses, scars, necklaces and all the other things that women usually look at when they go shopping, we stopped to try a pair of shoes. Because they didn’t had our size in that store, the young man working there sent one of his colleagues to bring the shoes from somewhere else and invited us to take a sit.

As we were siting there, chatting and waiting for our shoes,  I noticed how tired and sad the young man looked.


“How are you?” I asked him with a smile on my face?

Are you tired? 

You do look a bit tired.

You want to sit down and have a chat with us?

We promise not to be too annoying” and I started laughing.

“No, I am good.” he replied with a shy look on his face.

“What time did you came to work today?” I asked him again.

“It’s late, almost 10 pm.

I’m sure you’re tired.

Have you been working the whole day or did you came in in the afternoon?”

To which he replied:

“I came to work early in the morning.

Yes, I work all day every day.”

“Do you have days off?” I asked.

“I have one day every month” he replied.

My boss only gives me one day off every month.”

“What?!” I immediately asked.

“One day?!

What do you mean one day?

You come here every day, you work all day from early in the morning till late evening and you only have one day off per month?

This is crazy!”

He looked at me a bit confused and replied:

“My boss gives me only one day, yes but I am young.

I am only 18 years old.

I don’t have a family so it’s good.”

“But do you want to do this forever?” I asked him with a very surprised look on my face.

“Will you work here for a long time or do you plan to do something else?

“I don’t know.” he replied.

“I will stay here. 

I am still young.”

“But do you have a dream? Do you know what you would like to do in the future?” I asked.

To which he replied:

“No, I don’t have.

I will work here now and if my boss gives me another job I will take it.”

“So no dreams?” I asked him again.

“You really don’t know what you would love to do in the future…”

I was a bit confused and sat quiet in my sir for a few seconds and then I started talking again.

“What if there were no limits to what you could achieve?

What if you knew that you could do anything, what then?

What would you like to do if you knew that you could do it and nothing and no one would stop you?

Would your life be any different?”

“No, I don’t do that” he replied.

“I don’t dream.

I don’t know.

I don’t have money.

If I get a new job and make more money then I will see.”

“No, but what if you already had all the money you wanted or needed, what then?” I asked him, feeling all happy and excited.

“How would your life be any different?

What would you do and what would you work on?”

He looked at me very confused and replied:

“But I have no money.

I can’t do that. 

I don’t know.

If and when I will make more money I will do more but not now.

I need to make money first.”

“So you don’t have a dream?” I asked.

“There is nothing you’re passionate about?

Nothing you would love to do?

No dreams, no hidden ambitions?

To which he replied:

“No, I don’t have.

I don’t know.

I can’t do it.

I need money and if I make more money I will know more…”

Both me and my friend looked at each other and we couldn’t believe what we were hearing. We left the store feeling confused and sad at the same time.

Because I felt like I had to insist some more, right before I left the store, I told him again:

“Please, think about it some more. 

Think about your dreams, ok?

Go back to when you were a little boy and see if you can find your dreams there.

I am sure you will find them there.

Think about how your life would look like if there were no limits to who you could be and what you could achieve.

Look at it as a game. 

You’re a guy… Guys love games. 

Make it a game.

Think of how your life would look like if there were no limits and start from there.

Find your dreams!

Follow your dreams…”

I really wanted him to think about I told him and to work on discovering and following his dreams but who knows if that will ever happen..

You see, for the past one year or so, I became very intuitive and I got really good at reading people and at what I call “seeing into their souls”. Whenever I see a sad, lost and lonely soul, I immediately jump in and start a conversation in the hope that a seed of greatness will be planted into their beautiful minds and their lives will eventually be transformed. I can’t help it, it’s who I am at the moment

“How can a 18 year old work such long hours and have only one day off per month?” I kept asking myself.

“How come he had no dreams?

He wan’t even able to use his imagination, escape his current reality and envision a better life for himself… 

Dreams are free, how can he have none?”

His story made me feel sad and confused at the same time. Because he was so caught up in his current reality (which was all about making a living), he was too afraid to even dare to think how his life would look like if there were no limits to what he could be, do and have…

I understood him perfectly.

I know how it feels like to be lost in the dark. I know how it feels like not to have a sense of direction, to wake up every morning dragging your body from your bed, not wanting to do many of the things you “have” to do and live a life that has no meaning… Been there, done that.

When I was younger, I had no dreams either. I didn’t even know what dreams were made of.  I was too caught up in my sad and unhappy reality to even dare to dream.

There are some basics needs that need to be met before moving on to daring to dream and even though a lot of times it may be hard to forget about your sorrows and build in your mind’s eye a better picture on how you would like your life to look like, it’s essential for your own health, happiness and wellbeing.

“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.” ~ Karen Ravn

Dreams keep you alive. Dreams keep you young, giving you faith, vitality and energy to do many of the things your soul longs for. Dreams give meaning to your life.

You need dreams to stay alive. Without dreams your soul dies little by little and all you have left is a soulless walking body and a soulless life.

I started dreaming just a few years ago and my life continued to get better and better from that point onwards.

The question that inspired me to start dreaming was the same one I have asked that young man:

“If there were no limit to what you could achieve, how would your life look like?”

I am now living my life thinking that there are no limits to what I can be, do and have and the funny thing about it is that many of the limits I used to impose on myself years ago have disappeared. It’s  true what they say, “there are no limits to what you can be, do and have, only those you choose to impose on yourself.”

No matter how hard this may be to digest, I can tell you for sure that there is a lot of truth in these words. It’s us who limit ourselves, not the world around us.

The more I follow my heart and intuition and the more I live my life thinking that there are no limits to what I can achieve, the more I realize how true the following words from Patanjali really are: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Dare to dream. You don’t have to dream big if you feel like you’re not ready. Start with one small dream at a time. Have faith. Trust yourself and when in doubt, let the words of Harriet Tubman to give you strength and courage:”Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”