You’ve had a good year; you got a bonus and a raise, so you’re so much happier, right? Well, if you’re what a recent study calls a “frustrated achiever” probably neither of those things made you any happier.
A frustrated achiever is defined in the study as “an individual[s] who reports, in a given year with respect to the previous one, a negative variation in his/her self-declared life satisfaction accompanied by a positive variation in his/her real household income”. The researchers were trying to sort out whether money does actually make an individual happier. Observing 30,000 people over 12 years, the study found that about one-third of those involved had a decline in life satisfaction despite an annual salary increase. Some reasons for this decrease were fear of unemployment, sickness in the family and/or an unexpected upset in married life.
The analysis looked at the overall satisfaction of many factors such as family size, health, education, work changes, home life, social interaction and marital involvement to name a few. It found that one-third of all individuals involved were not happy with where they ended up. It’s the old the-grass-is-always-greener idea; we want what our neighbors have. In countries where the economy was not very strong, individuals always felt that they were never going to get any better than what they had, despite how far they had already come. In the United States it was found that even those who make six figures still felt as though they didn’t have enough to get everything they need. Comparing yourself to your neighbors is potentially detrimental to your health and overall well-being; money is not the issue here. An interesting side note, with the deterioration of a social community, the dissatisfaction with life for these “frustrated achievers” increased — perhaps it’s necessary to walk out of the office on time a few times a week.
Money alone won’t make anyone happy, but a job you like, a person you love in your life and surrounding yourself with supportive friends will help. In order to not end up a frustrated achiever, figure out how to not compare yourself to those around you and know what your goals and expectations are for you. Finally, don’t forget to smile!