Beyond Wealth: Does Money Guarantee Happiness?
Beyond wealth is a state where human happiness transcends economic boundaries. Interviews with almost 3,000 people in remote communities by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) challenge widely held perception that money buys happiness.
Nineteen Indigenous and local communities worldwide show life satisfaction levels as high as, or even higher than, those in wealthy Western countries. Remarkably, their much lower monetary incomes do not determine their level of joy.
The study revealed an average life satisfaction score of 6.8 out of 10 among these communities. This figure is notably close to the 6.7 average reported by countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).It also supports the notion that united we stand. Divided we fall. It really is that simple.
Most of the surveyed communities have estimated annual monetary incomes of less than US$1,000 per person. So, does a higher income equate to greater happiness, or is this a limiting belief?
Four communities stand out with happiness scores over 8, outperforming Finland’s OECD-leading average of 7.9. These include:
- Argentina’s Kolla Atacameña at 8.0
- Paraguay’s Pãi Tavyterã/Guarani at 8.2
- Brazil’s Riberinhos at 8.4
- Guatemala’s Western Highlands farmers at 8.6 where 30 of 70 respondents rated their life satisfaction a perfect 10.
Beyond Wealth: Insights from Indigenous and Local Communities Worldwide
This data reveals deep contentment in these communities and highlights the vast gap in material wealth. For example, the Western Highlands report a mean per capita asset of $560, starkly contrasted with Great Britain’s mean of £305,000.
Maybe chasing resource-intensive economic growth isn’t necessary for our wellbeing. Perhaps the link between income and happiness isn’t universal. So, maybe material success isn’t always an indicator of the quality of our life? Maybe pursuing happiness is also a myth?
Could true community, connection, and relationships be the spark that ignites and fulfills us? When we lack these elements and detach from our natural surroundings, we don’t see the opportunity to thrive.
These communities create healthy ways of living, and do not follow so-called best practices. This might shed light on why an increasing number of us are opting for simpler lives, valuing fewer possessions and more freedom to simply be, moving away from the idolization of achievement and advancement.
Enjoying a swim in the ocean doesn’t need a membership; it calls for respect towards our environment and the incorporation of healthy practices into our lives. And it’s available to anyone who has access to clean bodies of water that we do not pollute or fill with plastics.
Imagine we each knew our enough, in every aspect of our lives, and we only took what we need. And what if we create more than we consume and our creations were rich in connections and meaning. No need to compete to be better than anyone else and battle to be heard and seen.
True wealth lies in health and meaningful living, making soulful conversations more valuable than superficial chatter. Beyond wealth exists a realm of deeper connection and understanding. I’ll meet you there any day of the week.