Apparently making money isn't the sure-fire formula for well-being that it used to be. But do you know why? Bill McKibben wrote a fascinating, in-depth article, Reversal of Fortune, for Mother Jones (home of "smart, fearless journalism"). You can read it for free here.
Here are a couple of teasers from the article. The relationship between material wealth and happiness peaked in Western countries at 38% in 1974, and today we are actively experiencing life as "grimmer."
Once basic needs are met, Bill McKibben asserts that life satisfaction, however that is defined, shows some surprising data: The richest Americans, as defined by Forbes magazine, have identical happiness scores with the Pennsylvania Amish. He goes on to describe correlations of this factor in other countries too - and why the Irish, Danes, and Mexicans, have more satisfaction.
McKibben quotes an economist who asserts that companionship contributes more to well-being than income. Yet it is also a delicate dance between the two. When money is plentiful, and companionship scarce, companionship will add more to subjective well-being. When there is lots of companionship (as in crowded 3rd world families for example), and little money, an increase in income will add to subjective well-being.
This reminds me of how "rich" I felt when my husband and I first got married. We grossed $18,000 between the two of us that first year in 1974. Our rent was only $140 and we had a spectacular apartment view and discretionary money to go out to dinner and the movies, and on nice vacations. Even though our income has increased exponentially, I don't feel as rich as I did in 1974.
Interesting, provocative essay - worth the read.