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Psychological studies have consistently linked materialism or financial aspirations with unhappy and unsatisfied lives.

But recent research shows a more complex picture.

For example, one study found that the financial aspirations of those more highly educated leaned towards higher happiness levels compared to people with low educational levels. At the same time, people with high materialism and strong religious beliefs had lower subjective well-being levels compared to people with higher financial aspirations but a lower religious commitment.

Adding to the complexity — research suggests that while financial aspirations do pull life satisfaction down, household income tends to pull it up. That begs the question — how do most people achieve higher household incomes? Through financial aspirations, of course.

A classic Catch-22.

Aspiring to financial success won’t contribute to your happiness, but a higher income will. No wonder improving happiness through money often feels like a land mine.

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