Sunday, February 13, 2011

Life Satisfaction, Yesterday and Today

I found this article in Time magazine that discusses the idea of money buying happiness.  Its big claim is that happiness today is positively correlated with an annual income up to $75,000-- after that point, happiness plateaus.  Life satisfaction, or the feeling that one’s life is working out as a whole, continues to increase, but the subjects surveyed showed no significant increases in happiness (or unhappiness, for that matter) after that point.

I found this to be very interesting, and perhaps in contrast with Twain’s The 30,000 Bequest.  Aleck and Sally seemed to become increasingly distressed and unhappy as their wealth increased.  With the added power and responsibility that their imaginary funds afforded them, the two felt more pressure to invest wisely, more awareness of the immense possibility of their success and disaster of their failure. 

However, the point of the article that really drew me was the mention of “life satisfaction”, and how it continues to increase as individuals become more wealthy.  I saw quite the opposite in Sally and Aleck’s story.  It seemed that as their funds increased, they became more and more dissatisfied, more aware of not only how much money they had, but how much others had as well.  The more imaginary money they gained, the more they put themselves in the context of high-society.

I’m kind of curious about the discrepancy between Sally and Aleck’s life satisfaction and the modern trend of life satisfaction.  What about modern society allows us to feel more and more satisfied as we gain money, whereas Twain depicts an America that becomes more resentful towards their lives and work as they earn more?

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