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2/17/11

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize Winner: Happiness Can Be Had With $60,000 Yearly Income


Arguing that experience is essentially divided into the "experiencing self" and the "remembering self," Kahnemen suggests that happiness is essentially an act of deftly balancing the two. (They don't always match up, it turns out.) Here's Kahneman:

We know something about what controls satisfaction of the happiness self. We know that money is very important, goals are very important. We know that happiness is mainly being satisfied with people that we like, spending time with people that we like. There are other pleasures, but this is dominant. So if you want to maximize the happiness of the two selves, you are going to end up doing very different things. The bottom line of what I've said here is that we really should not think of happiness as a substitute for well-being. It is a completely different notion. . . .

I think the most interesting result that we found in the Gallup survey is a number, which we absolutely did not expect to find. We found that with respect to the happiness of the experiencing self. When we looked at how feelings vary with income. And it turns out that, below an income of 60,000 dollars a year, for Americans, and that's a very large sample of Americans, like 600,000, but it's a large representative sample, below an income of 600,000 dollars a year. . . .


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