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Can money buy happiness?

These days, happiness seems to be a topic on everyone’s mind. You can find books instructing readers how to find happiness, podcasts interviewing guests about how they achieved happiness, and even college classes teaching students how to be happy adults. Many of these resources investigate the link between money and happiness. But is happiness for sale?
Can money buy happiness?


Peak Misery And The Happiness Curve

Additional resources to think about

Should We Raise The Minimum Wage?
Listen to a debate about whether or not the minimum wage should be raised from Planet Money's The Indicator.

Can We Spend Our Way to Happiness?
Watch psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn explain how our relationship to money affects our happiness at the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival.

The Happiness Lab Podcast
Listen to the podcast created by Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos, who also teaches a course on how to be happy.

Global Happiness Organization
Explore the Global Happiness Organization, a nonprofit with the aim of increasing global happiness.

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness |TED
Watch a TEDx talk by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger who directs the longest running study on happiness.

It Seems Money Does Buy Happiness After All
This article from Bloomberg takes a look at a study that used an app to track users' happiness and the results it found.


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)? 
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • What's the emotional appeal? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2021, Center for Media Literacy,


Can money buy happiness?

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