Maybe some of you have heard about the term ‘happynomics’ and some of you don’t.

For those who haven’t heard or already heard but still don’t know what happynomics is, don’t worry! You are not alone. You can try to search the term in the dictionary but you won’t find it. The good news is you have come to the right place!

Here, we gonna tell you what happynomics is and how it impacts our life.

What Is Happinomics

You can guess, it comes from two words: happy / happiness and nomics as in economics. 

If we are talking about the economy, most of the time, people will measure it in money. Because we are talking about those two things, the first question that pops into mind is: does money make you happy?

Some of the money-oriented people will say yes in a split second with no hesitation. I believe many will claim they can’t live without money. But for those who don’t make money the purpose of their life, might be wondering what this is all about.

If I change the question to: Can you be happy without money?

Can you answer that question? As your mind begins to ponder, let me help you understand what is happiness first. This can be very personal and the answer from every person might be different because the definition of happiness is subjective. 

Some might say they will be happy if they are healthy. A woman may say true love is the definition of happiness. Or a man might say that their success equal to their happiness. For grandparents, a moment of happiness might come when their grandchild kiss them goodbye. For kids, it might be simpler and comes in a form like their favorite food or toys. But, what is happiness? 

What Is Happiness

According to Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel prize winner, people tend to mistake happiness with life satisfaction. If you are happy, it doesn’t mean you are satisfied and vice versa. The truth is they are different and have different causes and consequences too.

Kahneman contends that happiness and satisfaction are distinct. Happiness is a momentary experience that arises spontaneously and is fleeting. Meanwhile, satisfaction is a long-term feeling, built over time and based on achieving goals and building the kind of life you admire. 

So, to make it simple to understand, they surveyed people by asking how satisfied are they with their lives. And if money buys happiness.

High income improves evaluation of life (life satisfaction) but not emotional well-being (happiness)

The same thing also happens to the survey that was done in Britain. They pose a few questions like: How happy did you feel yesterday? How anxious do you feel yesterday? How satisfied are you with your life nowadays? To what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?

The research has suggested that money itself does not confer happiness, although wealthier people tend to be happier; that employment is critical to self-esteem; that women tend to be happier than men; and that people need something beyond the material for fulfillment.

Does It Mean Money Buy Happiness?

Happynomics is the link between wealth (money) and happiness.The data have shown happiness correlates positively with wealth, education and trust, negatively with corruption and unemployment. But it doesn’t mean that money equals happiness. 

Just like what Mihaly said in his book: 

“What I discovered was that happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power can command. It does not depend on outside events, but, rather, on how we interpret them. Happiness is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.”

Impacts of Happinomics in our life


For some people, a high salary might be one of the top reasons they want to apply for some job. But right now for younger people, the number one or two career priority is work-life balance. This means they value their life outside of work too. Big salary, annual bonus, share options aren’t more important than work-life balance. 

Customer life

If you ever notice, every advertisement contains the same message. There is a new product on the market. People who try the product will be happy. The end.

Most advertisers try to persuade us that the secret of happiness depends on the things we buy.

If their campaign success, it will be the next trend. Then people will make it like some competition to buy those things.  (This might lead to impulsive buying too). But is it true though? 

Does buying the new mascara make you happy? Or having the new iPhone makes you satisfied with your life? We have to remember that there are deeper things in life that matter such as friendship, family relationships, good health, and personal fulfillment.

To understand more about it, you have to know what you value the most in life. If you value the wrong things in life, you will pursue the wrong things in the wrong way too. 

I really like what Mark Manson said in his book: achieving success in life is not nearly as important as our definition of success. A lot of people don’t realize this. A lot of people obsessively focus on being happy and feeling good all the time—not realizing that if their values suck, feeling good will hurt them more than help them. If your biggest value in the world is snorting Vicodin through a swirly straw, well, then feeling better is just going to make your life worse.

Happynomics Tips

So, how do we solve this problem? How do we stay happy without making money our life purpose? How do we value things without being some kind of mediocre? 

Here are some tips from Tim Harford that we can follow:

Number one: don’t be distracted by the obvious

It is what psychologists call “the focusing illusion”. So, don’t just think about the obvious when making decisions; think about how day-to-day life is likely to change as the result – if it changes at all.

The second piece of advice is to pay attention selectively. 

It turns out that we grow accustomed to some conditions, happy or unhappy, but not to all.

Consider losing the people we love: we cope by paying less attention as time goes by. This also works for the nice things in life: we begin to take them for granted too.

So try to look in a positive mind. In this case “count your blessings” is perfect advice.

Third, try nudging yourself to happiness with the techniques of behavioral economics. 

Do some preparation to make it easier to do what brings us joy. For example: if reading books makes you happy, set your browser home page to book review site, leave books lying around your house. Make the new habit easy to do and hard to ignore.

Last, we must keep a sense of what’s possible.

Just as important as it to have a positive mind, it is also important to be realistic too. In happiness, as in life, we economists must know our limits.

I must agree with what Thomas L. Friedman said. Clearly, happynomics is no precise science, and how the happiness index will link to policy remains to be seen. But the idea is to put a value on things that don’t have price tags. Open spaces, clean air, security, release from pressure — these are things of growing importance and scarcity.

So, I hope after reading this, you understand more about happiness and economics or something that we called happynomics. And the answer to the question: Can you be happy without money? Yes, you can. Don’t forget to value the right things in life.

Written by: Aileen V.
Edited by: Elga T.