Researchers who study happiness have determined that pursuing money-related goals, and in fact having money, do not make us happy in the long run. This is because of a concept called hedonic adaptation, whereby attaining a goal results in a temporary increase in happiness, followed by a leveling out of happiness because you “adapt” to having attaned the goal. This concept is known as the “hedonic treadmill” — you keep walking and walking but you’re not getting anywhere. Take money, for instance. An increase in income brings with it a temporary increase in happiness, but as you adapt to having more money at your disposal, it becomes less useful to you because you start wanting more. Essentially, you’re back where you started. Individuals fail to anticipate the extent to which adaptation and social comparison undermine expected usefulness of things, so they allocate an excessive amount of time to money-related goals, shortchaging other domains such as family and health. (Easterlin, 2003)
Other research shows that family and health are important to overall happiness, and are less subject to adaptation, than money-related pursuits (Rojas, 2006; van Praag et al., 2003).
So, in real life terms, if you’re debating whether to put in the half-day at the office on saturday or attend your kid’s soccer game, go to the game!! Once you get the raise, the extra cash…you’ll be satisfied temporarily, but after a while you’ll get used to having it and you’ll just be dissatisfied cuz you’ll want more. Invest in your health and relationships!