In recent years, there’s been a surge in the study of happiness and well-being. Modern metrics of well-being now shine a light on how countries rank in terms of their “happiness”. Intrigued by these findings, researchers probed deeper into the elements contributing to the happiness of nations.

Among these variables, a distinct pattern emerged: the correlation between a nation’s GDP and its happiness quotient. This piqued my interest. How deep does this interplay between wealth and well-being run? Let’s unpack the intricacies of income and happiness.

Dissecting the Definitions: Well-being, Happiness, and Flourishing

Boniwell and Tunariu, in their book “Positive Psychology: Theory, Research and Applications”, elucidate that well-being is a multifaceted concept. In general discourse, ‘happiness’ is often the colloquial stand-in for well-being. One interpretation of happiness zeroes in on the hedonic or pleasure-oriented facet of well-being.

Yet, a more profound layer exists: ‘flourishing’. Flourishing encapsulates growth, personal evolution, and self-transcendence. It’s the drive to go beyond one’s confines in pursuit of profound, meaningful actions—a stark contrast to the transient hedonic pleasures sometimes linked to financial success.

The Link Between Income and Subjective Well-being

Subjective well-being marries the affective (our feelings) and cognitive (our thoughts) aspects of our overarching well-being. When gauging broad measures of “happiness” or Subjective Well-being, the role of income is intricate. For impoverished nations, income is closely tied to fulfilling basic needs, like food and shelter. Conversely, affluent countries leverage robust social welfare systems, mitigating the harsh impacts of poverty.

Moreover, the income-SWB link in poorer nations is more discernible when we evaluate broader life contentment rather than fleeting emotional states. Nations with plumper wallets often boast more human rights, decreased crime, robust democracies, heightened equality, superior literacy rates, extended lifespans, and stellar health—all potential contributors to happiness. However, there’s a caveat. Increased income often births heightened competitiveness, rampant materialism, and curtailed social and leisure time.

The Hidden Costs of Chasing Higher Income

Elevated income comes with its own set of challenges. The rigors of work can eat into leisure and stress personal bonds. A subtler fallout is the ‘hedonic treadmill’. This phenomenon underscores how prosperity can lead to escalating desires and expectations, making individuals restless in their current state, always yearning for the next thrill or achievement.

In essence, while money can elevate facets of well-being, particularly where foundational needs are at stake, its relentless pursuit might not be the golden ticket to lasting happiness. A deeper dive into the nexus of money, happiness, and flourishing reveals a holistic view of a life imbued with purpose.

How Coaching Can Illuminate Your Money Mindset and Well-being

Coaching, especially focused on well-being and growth, helps people find direction. Instead of only valuing money or material things, coaching shows that real success can be about personal growth, connecting with others, and feeling good about life.

With a coach’s help, you can better understand your own feelings about money, life, and what makes you happy. It’s like having a personal guide to help you find your best path in life. And with this understanding and guidance, life feels more meaningful and rewarding.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sophie



  1. Boniwell, Ilona, and Aneta D. Tunariu. Positive Psychology: Theory, Research and Applications. McGraw-Hill Education, 2019.
  2. Diener, E., Lucas, R., & Oishi, S. (1999). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and life satisfaction. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (p. 63–73). Oxford University Press.
  3. Diener, E., Kahneman, D., & Helliwell, J. (2009b). Income’s differential influence on judgments of life versus affective well-being. In E. Diener, D. Kahneman, & J. Helliwell (Eds.), International Differences in Well-Being (pp. 3-15). Oxford University Press.