The upshot: If you and I feel equally successful but you make four times as much as I do, we will be equally happy about our lives. Of course, successful people make more money than unsuccessful people, on average. But it is the success—not the money per se—that is giving them the happiness. I have no doubt that some people do get pleasure from lording their higher incomes over others. But the evidence says this is not the biggest reason that having more than others gives us happiness.
Financial status is the way we demonstrate to others (and ourselves) that we are successful—hence the fancy watches, the expensive cars, and the bespoke suits. We use these things to show other people not just that we are prosperous, but that we are prosperous because we create value.
There is nothing strange about measuring our success with money; we measure things indirectly all the time. I require my students to take exams not because I believe their scores have any inherent value, but because I know these scores correlate extremely well with how much they have studied and how well they understand the material. Your doctor draws your blood to check your cholesterol not because blood cholesterol is interesting in and of itself, but because it measures your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. In the same way, we measure our professional success with green pieces of paper called “dollars.”
12 maio 2008
Sabe quando você tem um texto na cabeça mas não o talento para torná-lo algo concreto? Pois bem, graças ao meu xará, descobri que alguém fez isso pra mim: