They should take a cue from their grandparents
Money can buy happiness.
Or so say many millennials: One in every 10 people ages 20-36, when asked what they most closely associate with happiness, answers “money” — choosing that over love, doing good and other answers as their No.1 driver of happiness. That number is significantly higher than the number of boomers who say this (6%), according to a recent survey of more than 2,300 adults conducted by Wells Fargo. Male millennials (13%) are significantly more like to answer “money” than females.
“I see a lot of young people with anxiety around ‘wanting more,’” says psychologist Christina Barber-Addis of New Awakenings Therapy. “There is a belief that happiness is just around the corner, if they make enough money and are able to buy the nice car and wear the nice clothes. But of course, happiness does not come with the purchase of these things, because they are always left wanting more, continuing the cycle of anxiety.”
Research backs her up. A recent Harvard study — which tracked participants over their lives for 80 years, concluded that “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.” The study also noted that “those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.
Psychologist Erika Martinez of Envision Wellness says this may be because millennials were raised to value money. And indeed, not only are they are a generation who grew up watching reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and The Real Housewives where wealth is celebrated, they also suffered through a severe recession, which no doubt impacted how important they see financial security.
Part of their money obsession may also be that millennials say they feel a lot of pressure to keep up with their friend’s spending — and more than half add that they’ve posted a photo on social media to look like they were staying, eating or visiting somewhere more expensive than they actually were.
To be fair, millennials aren’t all wrong in their thinking that money can buy happiness. A study from 2010 found that people who make less than $75,000 a year actually do feel somewhat happier when they make more; but that the uptick in happiness tops out once they’re making that much. “Money definitely buys relief from worry about making ends meet and payment deadlines,” says Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, and co-star on Sex Box on WE tv. And that can put a smile on millennials’ faces.
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