A result that deserves more attention is that at levels beyond poverty, there is little correlation between money and happiness.
"Americans who earn $50,000 per year are much happier than those who earn $10,000 per year," writes Gilbert, "but Americans who earn $5 million per year are not much happier than those who earn $100,000 per year."
If you have basic financial security, but you're unhappy, so you're scrambling for more money to buy more things to make you happier, you're just running up a mountain you're making bigger as you go. You would do better to look elsewhere for happiness.
This article comes to a frugalicious conclusion --
If more money doesn't buy more happiness, then the behavior of most Americans looks downright insane, as we work harder and longer, decade after decade, to fatten our W-2s.
-- but then turns 180.
But what is insane for an individual is crucial for a national economy--that is, ever more growth and consumption. Gilbert again: "Economies can blossom and grow only if people are deluded into believing that the production of wealth will make them happy ... Economies thrive when individuals strive, but because individuals will strive only for their own happiness, it is essential that they mistakenly believe that producing and consuming are routes to personal well-being." In other words, if you want to do your part for your country's economy, forget all of the above about money not buying happiness.
Gilbert is a psychologist, not an economist. I find it a refreshingly honest commentary on our modern economy that people are delusional, not rational, actors. But as to embracing this situation and prescribing delusion and the production and consumption of things that don't add value to our lives?
Give up the delusions. Don't buy crap. Don't make crap. There'll still be an economy, but it would become an economy that rewards innovations that actually add value to our lives.