What's more important than money?

"I've been poor, and I've been rich and being rich sure beats being poor."

I don't know how many times I've seen that quote and I'm sure you have too. But if being rich beats being poor, what beats being rich?

As it turns out, a lot.

From our own research conducted for the study we published in Life After Farming, the participants in the study ranked the top four aspects of their lives in order, and money came in fourth! This is a relatively common result when I look at the general research on happiness.

First is - Health. Many of our participants were actively working on their health by building their fitness, improving their diet and improving the quality of their sleep.

Second is - Relationships. Having a supportive network of friends and family is almost as important to a happy life as good health.

Purpose is third. Having something meaningful to do gives direction to a life, helps one feel connected to others and provides feedback which helps build and maintain self-worth.

Fourthly - Money. But only up to a point. After the basics of life are covered and a few treats provided more money has diminishing returns to scale. In other words, more money can end up reducing life satisfaction rather than increasing it. We soon get used to higher levels of wealth and are surprised when we end up with the same old problems and worries.

One of the interesting results of the research around money and happiness is that our happiness is linked to the relative wealth of others around us. Isn't that sad. It is not so much the actual wealth we have that makes us happy, it is how much we have relative to our immediate neighbours. Comparative wealth has a bigger impact on our happiness than actual wealth.

Much as we like to think we are not affected by what others are doing, the research shows that, on average, there is a tendency to be affected by what others have or what we perceive them to have.

Keep asking great questions ...