So here is the Million Dollar Question: Does being rich make you happier?
Our culture as a whole can't agree at all on this issue. There are plenty of sayings like 'Money can't buy you happiness' and people will regularly agree with the sentiment that the most rewarding things in their lives had nothing to do with earning money or consuming goods and yet people do spend immense portions of their lifetimes and energy chasing promotions, raises, unlikely windfalls, free stuff and questionable deals. Our collective desire to try to accumulate money and then consume conspicuously to show it off is tremendous and it is entirely at odds with what good advice seems to suggest.
There have been studies done that have found that there is no link between money and happiness beyond a certain amount. Those that live in real poverty are definitely less happy than the middle class but it is an often quoted fact that income beyond that which is necessary to have a safe place to live, food to eat and relative security has no happiness benefit. I am just now reading a book called The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley that suggests that this is dead wrong and that there is a consistent trend towards greater happiness with greater money.
There are a few things we know for sure on this topic and some things that seem muddy. We know that people get happy very quickly when they gain a lot of money but that that effect diminishes rapidly with time and that the same thing happens in reverse with losing money. We also know that a tremendous portion of the happiness a person gains with increased wealth is due to their relative position to others. Having the things that a middle class person has today would make you richer than a king in times gone past but obviously no one is arguing that everyone today is happier than nearly everyone who lived in times prior to 1900 so clearly these benefits are based hugely on your circumstances. I have read a theory about this that seems to me to be by far the best explanation of these effects: The idea is that once basics of food and shelter are covered the benefit of wealth on happiness is entirely based on your relative wealth to your peers. If the people you deal with regularly are generally less wealthy than you then they will be less happy and you will be more happy. This makes a lot of sense and meshes really well with studies that otherwise seem contradictory; if absolute wealth has no effect on happiness but relative wealth does two studies with different methodology could easily conclude that either happiness varies with wealth or it does not.
It is clear then that wealth does make the person gaining it happier but because it also takes happiness away from his peers the net effect is not positive. So you can make yourself happy by being richer, but only by stealing happiness from the global pool. You could achieve the same gain of happiness simply by associating with poorer people and not changing your own circumstances at all! Of course, this all depends on a relatively prosperous society to be true. In our society it is quite easy to support a family on 45 hours of work a week along with some chores. Being rich does not at all mean you work less hours - those at the top of the status world regularly work more hours than the average man, which is exactly the opposite of how things work in a much less advanced society. Back when the middle class had to work 6 days a week 14 hours a day and do without healthy food and medicine getting more money surely could gain a person happiness regardless of their peer group but the same isn't true today.
To be clear there are people around in Canada and the US today who do not meet the minimum requirements for money to no longer produce happiness in an absolute sense. In particular homeless people, natives on reserves, people growing up in gang dominated neighborhoods and those who experience discrimination could become happier absolutely if they had more wealth. Once you are a person who has basic freedoms guaranteed, good food, a home and a reasonable expectation of health and safety you really aren't going to gain much from gaining wealth except at the cost of others.