Years ago a doctor asked my mother her definition of happiness and without batting an eye she said: Love and money.
When it came to fundamentals mother got right down to brass tacks.
A while back up in Washington a piece of the federal government – the National Academy of Sciences – decided Congress needed to figure out what makes people happy so it could pass bills to bring more joy to their lives – so the NSA did a study asking folks questions like how often they smile or laugh every day.
When the study was done the scientists carefully analyzed and weighed the data, intending to share the secret to happiness with Congress but the scientists ran head on into a roadblock.
The data showed 87% of the American people were already happy.
Which left the scientists in a pickle: Because if Congress didn’t need to get into the happiness business the scientists could be out of a job.
So the scientists went to work to find a solution to their problem and they did: 87%, they announced, wasn’t good enough.
In fact, the scientists reported, sadly, that America only ranked a measly 17th on the world happiness index – while tiny Denmark, the home of Hamlet, ranked first – and, of course, the scientists had hit a nerve: No red-blooded American Congressman could let himself be outdone by a nation no bigger than Rhode Island.
Next the scientists announced they’d also discovered another startling fact: My mother was dead-wrong about money.
Folks get happier, the scientists reported, up to the exact point where they earn $36,000 a year (or $144,000 for a family of four).
After that, they get unhappier or, at best, their happiness flat lines and stays the same.
Finally the scientists reported the worst news of all: The USA, income-wise, has already passed the ‘bliss point.’
Americans are already making too much money to be happy.