Conversation 5 – Kalyn Boudinot

In the Ted Talk “The paradox of Choice,” by Barry Shawrtz, he discussed that an excessive number of choices, while initially seen as enhancing individual freedom and welfare, can lead to negative consequences such as paralysis and decreased satisfaction. He argues that more choices are not necessarily better and suggests that having some limitations or constraints in life is important for well-being. Some premises he uses would be the official dogma in Western industrial societies, and how maximizing individual freedom and choice lead to paralysis, making it difficult for people to make decisions. He notes that even when people make choices, they may experience decreased satisfaction because of high expectations and the awareness of other available options. Based on these premises, Schwartz concludes that having some limitations or constraints (a metaphorical “fishbowl”) is essential for happiness and well-being and that too much freedom and choice can lead to dissatisfaction and misery. In the article, “From the ‘perfect’ salary to keeping up with the Joneses, here’s how money really affects your happiness” by Cory Stieg, the author discusses the relationship between money and happiness, exploring various aspects of different classes and how money based on lifestyle affects people. Some premises he touches on is the idea that there is a perfect ‘happiness’ salary. Stieg refers to a 2010 study by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, suggesting that people tend to feel happier as they earn more money, up to a point (around $75,000 a year per person). Beyond this point, emotional well-being does not significantly improve, but overall life satisfaction does. He notes how certain incomes could suggest different life satisfactions. A 2018 study from Purdue University suggests different income points for life satisfaction ($95,000) and emotional well-being ($60,000 to $75,000). Happiness levels tend to decrease when people earn more than $105,000. In conclusion, Stieg ends the argument that while money is important for meeting basic needs, its relationship with happiness is complex. Beyond a certain income threshold, the correlation between higher income and greater happiness weakens. Meaningful work, wise spending, and buying time for oneself are highlighted as ways to enhance happiness. 

After reading and viewing both, article and video, I believe money is undoubtedly crucial for meeting basic needs and providing a sense of security, though it is not the sole determinant of happiness. Schwartz’s discussion on the importance of meaningful work and personal values underscores the idea that happiness is not solely derived from financial success. Meaningful activities, such as pursuing one’s passions or helping others, contribute significantly to overall well-being. As suggested by Stieg, people are willing to trade a portion of their future earnings for a job that provides meaning, highlighting the importance of non-material factors in happiness. Once basic needs are met, factors such as meaningful work, social connections, and personal values become increasingly important for overall well-being. Understanding the limitations of money in contributing to happiness can lead individuals to prioritize non-material aspects of their lives, ultimately enhancing their overall sense of happiness and life satisfaction.

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