On average, money makes us happier, in the US, up to $75,000. Above that, nada.
Whether a reward is intrinsic or extrinsic helps determine the setting of your narrative – the marketplace or the heart. As Dan Ariely writes in his book, Predictably Irrational, you tend to unconsciously evaluate your behavior and that of others in terms of social norms or market norms.
Payments in terms of social norms are intrinsic, and thus your narrative remains impervious to the overjustification effect. Those sorts of payments come as praise and respect, a feeling of mastery or camaraderie or love. Payments in terms of market norms are extrinsic, and your story becomes vulnerable to overjustification.
Interesting topic. I wonder how the men, women and children feel who live in a household with multi-millions? I can't even imagine it. I wonder if they think or people who manufacture their products, as in China making Apple products, and committing suicide for lack of basic needs being met.
Well I don't know about multi-millions Joan, but I grew up in a household where my (adoptive) father was a doctor (nephrologist/urologist) and, as far as I am aware (I don't know exactly how much he ever made as he never shared anything about himself with me), he made about $500k a year. I am aware he made some bad investments with a "friend", but even so he was/is quite likely to be a millionaire. Didn't seem to make him any happier, and it certainly didn't do me a whole lot of good. He didn't invest a whole lot in me, that's for sure. He paid for one year of college for me, and some other financial help here and there, but he never invested any time in me, or made an emotional investment in me. He would come home angry and stressed out and screaming whenever he would open his mouth, so I was glad that he was almost never home. In fact, life in that rich-by-any-measure house was so downright miserable that I tried to kill myself by the age of 10, and had a life-long struggle with depression that led first to abuse of food, repeated attempts to run away from home, years of therapy, followed by years of drug use/abuse. So it doesn't surprise me even a little bit to discover that past $75k money doesn't buy happiness. I would say a house full of love is far richer than a house full of money. My family is not rich, but our children are loved and happy and I invest most of my time to my children, so they are happy and will have much better lives for being happy and well-loved than financial support alone could ever do. I no longer speak to my father, and I am much happier for it, and I know that he is not a happy person, as apparently he has substituted/mistaken a search for happiness with a search for money, and mistaken a search for outward success as a search for inner success.
Wanderer, thank you for sharing your story and how you have learned to make changes in your life and create a healthy home for your family. It is a hard story to read, and I felt so many emotions, especially how they are wounds that remain, not as a daily occurrence but as a bad memory that you cannot change. There are some things to ease the wounds that I am learning. It sounds as though you have found a way to deal with things in a more powerful way than I.
Your family is so very lucky to have you and learn a better way to be in community. Thanks for helping me.
Thanks Joan! :-) Yeah that was a pretty good way of putting it. My childhood is a bad memory that I cannot change, and there have been far too many consequences of that childhood that are the same. It is doubly-hard to live with these bad memories, because not only does one have to try to find the motivations on one's own that one should have gotten from happier memories, but one also has to convince others that one could have been a better, happier person if only one had had a better, more nurturing environment to grow into. It's a hard argument to make, believe me I've tried. People are really quick to judge and dismiss you based on their immediate perceptions, as I'm sure you are perfectly aware. That wouldn't matter nearly so much if it wasn't so hard to manufacture happiness when it just isn't there, like trying to make a dark room light by willing it so. Enter the vicious cycle, and you've got a real recipe for disaster.
I could probably try to make a good argument as to how one should go about willing oneself to be happy (it might have something to do with moral convictions, or something else entirely), but I'd rather relay a story for now. As a boy, one of my favorite things to do was to read fantasy books; an escape of some sort I'm sure. One of them was a series by Lloyd Alexander called the Prydain Chronicles, 5 books about a young boy named Taran who was adopted, never knew his birthparents, and went on a life journey through the books, a hero's journey kind of story that I greatly identified with, myself having been adopted and never knowing my birthparents either. The fourth book is called Taran Wanderer, so that explains my avatar's name! Anywho, in the last book the heroine Eilonwy, who has carried with her her mother's golden bauble which only she can command to glow, sees Taran about to drown in a river (wow, a better analogy then I first thought). She then fulfills a prophecy about "turning night into day" with her strong feelings for Taran causing the bauble to grow so bright that Taran and his companions see the danger and avoid it. So basically I think it means you have to take whatever it is that you are passionate about and follow it's light with all your heart, or else succumb to the darkness within. So, like one of Harry Potter's professor's advises him, I strive to stay in the light. That's all I got! :-)
Oh, I missed the edit time by about 3 minutes. Just realized I probably should have said "metaphor", not "analogy". That's right, isn't it? I always slept through English class (all my classes really).
I don't care if it was an analogy or metaphor, your comment holds great strength for me.
Thanks Joan! :-)
Oh, and I just remembered that another good metaphor is that of the Patronus! This is what had led me to come up with my own and start the discussions asking people what theirs were. The idea Rowling seems to be conveying, quite brilliantly, in the Patronus is that you have to look inside yourself for those things which make you happiest and take those memories or passions and use them as motivation. The metaphor of the Patronus is an excellent one because it shows just how powerful the kind of motivation you can derive from your own inner joy can be. We need to be able to take that inner light, the love and joy and passion that resides in our heart and find a way to express it, and not keep it bottled up unused within us.
I've been at my daughters for over a week and haven't been able to read and think about what you have written. I am now back into my home routine now. I am not familiar with Patronus, and have not read Harry Potter (I am not bragging, I am complaining), and realize I must do so. Your sentence, "you have to look inside yourself for those things which make you happiest and take those memories or passions and use them as motivation." sounds right to me, and I would add, we have to give ourselves the mothering/fathering that we wanted and needed for ourselves because we are worthy of love, respect, and honor. It isn't hard to physically hug oneself, harder to embrace our being, and, it seems to me, to be necessary.
The notion of "giving", "sacrificing oneself", "crucifying oneself" was a hard one for me to shed because the message started as an infant and continued until I was no longer able to tolerate intolerable behaviors of people I "love". The good news for me is that once I put up a protective barrier against mental and physical abuse, they stopped. I could have done that years ago and didn't. Jeeze! I allowed them to abuse me!@*$!%)+^#
That is one of the hardest things to come to grips with, that the abuse one received in childhood actually makes it easier for that person to be further abused afterwards. A truly disturbing revelation.
It reads as though you found a way to ease your pain through the adventures of Taran and his hero's journey. That makes perfect sense to me and reveals, once again, that a child in trouble needs some kind of anchor to get through to adulthood. Usually, in my experience at boys' ranches, if a boy has a "Cookie person", someone who cares about him, he had a chance to grow into a healthy adult. That person could be a relative, neighbor or even a mailman. Children need something to hold onto.
I like your expression of awareness of "So basically I think it means you have to take whatever it is that you are passionate about and follow it's light with all your heart, or else succumb to the darkness within." Your innate compassion for yourself and then for your role as a husband and parent empowers you.
It is comforting for me to know that you walk your journey and allow me to join you in our becoming fully who we are created to be.
I found more than a few childhood fantasies to indulge in, but wasted so much time in fantasy and other frivolous pursuits (especially video games!) that I really fell far behind. My childhood put me at such a great disadvantage, and people don't really realize or acknowledge this, so changing the system and getting help to children who need it, when they need it, is one of the most important things I can think of to do with my life. Imagine all the untapped and wasted talent that must exist in the world, especially considering the insidious effects of religion, and how it locks the mind in a cage. We would be capable of so much as a species, but we are as of now still living, imho, in a real dark ages. I get so frustrated about this, we are all heading right off a cliff as a species and few people are even aware of it... FRUSTRATING!!! to say the least.
My mother was caring, she did love me, I will say that, but she had her own problems. She was neurotic and anorexic, she told me she was raped once and I suppose that had to have a lot to do with it, but how do I know if that is the whole story? She played the part of the victim of emotional abuse, and didn't stand up to my father (he wasn't physically abusive, but he was extremely aggressive and emotionally abusive to both of us, but not to my sister, she was his little girl who he spoiled). She didn't do a whole lot to protect me either, and after she rescued me from my suicide attempt she didn't do anything, she didn't choose to change my environment and kept me in the same house with that lunatic, so I blame her for her weakness as well. If my father hadn't gotten caught cheating and she finally got up the nerve to kick him out of the house by the time I was 13, I think I really might have killed him. I had already threatened him with a knife by age 12. People just don't realize what happens to people when they are stuck in an emotionally abusive place, they become desperate and will do anything to get out of an oppressive set of circumstances.
My journey is one with one foot always in darkness, I constantly have to struggle against fear, anger, and hatred, and against dark thoughts and painful memories. But the dark doesn't overwhelm the light, the light is at least as powerful and I try to throw myself with all my heart into what is clearly recognizable as good. I think its pretty obvious what has motivated my desire to understand ethics/morality, why I have delved so deeply into value theory and philosophy in general, and consequently (and fairly recently) my desire to understand politics and the economics which is apparently so central to it. Power plays an essential role in our values and ethical systems, that is for certain. It is important to remember that power is the means though, not the end, and this basic distinction goes unrecognized by too many, which is a fundamental problem of politics and, more basically, ethics. And this is of course what is at the heart of all our mythologies about good vs evil, it plays the central role in the Harry Potter series, in the Sith vs. Jedi stories, in the fantasies of Narnia and Prydain and LOTR, and throughout all our literature etc. ad infinitum. We have to realize that power means nothing if it does not lead us to a nourishing and loving attitude towards ourselves, others, and all life, and how much more powerful we would really be if we did follow such a path. I'm afraid we as a species have strayed very far from that path indeed.
Thank you Joan, I'm happy to walk with you as well, it has been a real pleasure.