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The Joyletter

What if money really does buy happiness?

Published 7 months ago • 3 min read

Hi Reader,

If there's one truism about happiness that gets bandied about more than any other, it's got to be "money can't buy happiness."

This old saw has taken on the mantle of fact since 2010, when researchers Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman published a study that suggested that money's influence on happiness plateaus at an income of about $75,000 a year.

This number always seemed somewhat arbitrary to me, but who was I to quibble with a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist?

Until this year. New evidence (published by Kahneman himself!) suggests those findings were flawed. Happiness doesn't plateau at annual incomes of $75,000. It keeps rising and rising, at incomes of $200k a year and well beyond.

In other words, money actually has a BIG influence on our happiness.

In this week's post, I'm digging into the new research and unpacking the implications of this reversal for our relationship with our finances. How should we spend our money to gain the most joy? Can we be happy without money? And what about the things that money can't buy?

Read the post here

This research can be provocative, but it opens up space for a much more honest conversation about how wealth and poverty really influence our lives, and how social policies shape not just the economy, but our mental health. I'd love to hear your reactions in the comments on the post.

And read on for an invitation to a joyful live event, a very silly sport, and inspiration from David Beckham's underwear drawer.

Joyfully,

Ingrid

One Thing

Enjoy a tiny luxury

I've gotten better at treating myself in recent years, but the treats often come with a side order of shame. (All those years of being told that buying a coffee out is stealing from my 401k — it's no wonder I struggle to enjoy these small luxuries in the present.) It's perverse, actually: we buy something that's supposed to bring joy, then spend our time doing penance for it instead of actually enjoying it.

It's worth remembering that the money doesn't actually come back if you beat yourself up about it. All that happens is that you never actually got the pleasure that you paid for. So what tiny luxury can you let yourself enjoy this week?

Mark Your Calendar

This Wednesday, November 8th at 2pm ET, I'll be in conversation with Mark Williamson of Action for Happiness in an online, livestreamed event.

We're going to be talking about joy and resilience, and strategies for finding more joy in daily life. I've heard that there are nearly 3000 people signed up so far, and I'm excited to be in virtual community to find joy together in this challenging time.

There will be plenty of time for Q&A, so if you have something you've been wanting to ask me, I hope you'll join this special conversation!

Learn more and register here

In Search of: Joyful Underwear

Have you been watching Beckham? I have to admit I was skeptical, but my reservations were charmed away by the title character's singular devotion to his sport, and the personality quirks he lets us see along the way.

Case in point: his immaculately organized closet, complete with a neon rainbow underwear drawer. Beckham's underwear rainbow reminded me that women's underwear is often framed as being for anyone but ourselves. Our undergarments are supposed to be sexy and attractive to a mate but also invisible under clothing (but we can't not wear them, because what kind of woman does that, right?).

The underwear rainbow isn't seductive or practical. It's just fun. And given my delicates drawer is due for a refresh, I asked this week what suggestions you have for places to find delightful underwear. Here are some of the most mentioned sources. It's nice to see some reasonably priced, size-inclusive ranges here, though if I'm honest, I'm a little underwhelmed by the color options. (So many pastels, so many jewel tones. Sigh.) I tagged the ones with the greatest rainbow potential with a 🌈 emoji.

Delightful Discovery

The Balloon World Cup

As you may know, I love games. The sillier, the better. So I was thrilled to discover that there's a Balloon World Cup, where adults compete to keep a balloon up in the air the longest.

That this competition takes place in a room crammed with mundane obstacles like sofas, tables, and even a whole Volkswagen makes it all the more entertaining. Watch the thrilling grand finale of this year's competition here.

Quote of the Week

"We don't make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies."

— Walt Disney

The Joyletter

by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Designer, bestselling author, and founder of the School of Joy. I help people find more joy in life and work through design. Join more than 45,000 readers who receive our weekly treasure trove of science-backed tips, delightful discoveries, and inspiration for living a better life.

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