Happiness Is Worth $40,000

Guy Kawasaki interviewed Penelope Trunk and the first question he asked her was about happiness.

Question: How much money does it take to be happy?

Answer: It takes about $40,000. It does not matter how many kids you have or what city you live in—that’s splitting hairs because peoples’ happiness levels are largely based on their level of optimism and the quality of their relationships. So as long as you have enough money for food and shelter, your optimism level kicks in to dictate how happy you are.

So very true! $40,000 is what I would call a sustainable income for Vancouver. You could easily live comfortably here with it, even with the high cost of rent here.

At the same time, I remembered when I used to work for a web firm in town and they were talking of raising my salary from $45,000 to $60,000 because I helped out so much with the company in so many different ways. What was my response? I said it was nice of them to offer but I’d rather see the working environment improve.

Thus if they paid me the extra money, I’d reinvest it in the people in the company in anyway I could so as to make their work environment more enjoyable. For example, I used to bring in bagels for breakfast, buy birthday cakes, treat staff to lunch, and so on using money from my own pocket. I felt these people deserved some visible form of appreciation, no matter how small or simple it may have been (i.e. bringing in bagels for breakfast). In effect, it wasn’t about the amount of money you had but what you did with it.