A letter from a reader about Money and happiness

November 12, 2006

I am writing in response to the article “Money, happiness, and how we spend our time” (Notebook, Oct. 25) regarding the research of professors Krueger and Kahneman. As a theologian, I am often surprised by the amount of time and energy social scientists will expend to determine that money does not, in fact, make us truly happy. Rather than conducting extensive surveys and fretting over the reliability of “subjective well-being data,” these researchers may also wish to consult the wisdom of various religious traditions whose history spans millennia.

I personally believe that Jesus and Buddha have as much to teach us, if not more, about what makes people happy than combing through 900 diaries and correlating subjective data with physiological factors. And for those wary of religious language, philosophers like Plato and Aristotle could also give a better understanding of what true happiness means, rather than relying on “common-sense” notions prevalent in our economic culture that often prove to be less helpful.

Ph.D. Program in Theological Ethics
Boston College

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