Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Does Happiness Lead to More #Money?

Kylee Mitchell
Program Officer, Detroit Regional Workforce Fund
United Way for Southeastern Michigan
A recent study indicates that people who are happier tend to make more money than unhappier counterparts.
Have you ever thought, "If I had more money, I would be happier?" Well, what if the reverse were true: Can being happy earn you more money?
A recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences titled, "Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed effects" has shown a correlation between teenage happiness and income earned later in life. According to an L.A. Times article about the study, more than 10,000 teens were assessed using a happiness index at ages 16, 18, 22 and finally at 29. The study determined that as teens aged into their 20s, those who were happiest earned larger salaries.
One point of movement on a life satisfaction scale equated to a $2,000 difference in income by the age of 22. In addition, an $8,000 swing in earnings was determined between the gloomiest and happiest points of the scale. Unhappy teen’s incomes were 30% percent below average while happier teen’s incomes were 10% above average. Siblings reared with the same parents and of identical socioeconomic status were assessed as well. Happier sibling earned more than the unhappy sibling, according to the article.
When I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator -- an assessment that measures psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions -- my results labeled me as Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving (ESFP). I took the assessment at a former employer more than 10 years ago. Of the nearly 100 employees, I was one of two ESFPs within my organization. This type has been dubbed as the “performer,” which is why I'm fairly certain I was an actress in my former life -- on Broadway. In all seriousness, ESFPs are characterized as lively and fun and believe in a world of possibilities.
Fast forward to today, and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan introduced me to the Strengths Finder – an assessment of normal personality from the perspective of positive psychology. These results are based on five themes, and not surprisingly, my themes were Positivity, Responsibility, Arranger, Winning-Others-Over (Woo) and Communication. My dominant themes are Positivity, Responsibility and Woo. In both instances the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Strengths Finder depicts me as a lively, positive person. I would like to think that this is an accurate assessment of who I am about 80% of the time (no one can be positive 24/7)!
When it comes to navigating the highs and lows of my career, I know that these traits contributed to my success. And at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we're working to bring positive changes in people's lives to help them become more financially stable and successful, whether that's helping with career coaching or budgeting.
I believe in the famous quote by Lou Holtz, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
So, today, what can you do to be more positive?