“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”—Hebrews 13:5 (ESV).
“Study links workplace compensation to self-worth” was the newspaper headline of a recent business article. Because the headline grabbed my attention, I wanted to read the article. I usually skim through most of the business section but the larger subhead, “Paycheck Pride,” drew me into the story.
According to the article, unhappiness in the workplace during the past few years is connected to the slow economy, as raises have been limited for rank-and-file employees. However, during that same time, compensation for top executives has skyrocketed. In addition, the study revealed the more money a person makes, the more he wants, whether the worker is a clerk or CEO.
The results from the study were compiled into a report, “When Does Money Make Money More Important?” According to the study’s authors, money earned through labor is more important to people than money that comes from other sources, including stock investments or winning the lottery. The authors also found that the more money paid for each hour of work, the more important that money becomes.
The three researchers were inspired to begin their study after the former CEO of a Swiss pharmaceutical giant declined a $78 million severance package last year when the story sparked public and shareholder uproar. In an interview with “Fortune” magazine, the former CEO said, “The strange part is, the more I made, the more I got preoccupied with money. When suddenly I didn’t have to think about money as much, I found myself starting to think increasingly about it.”
In a Canadian study, 71 university students were paid various amounts, from $1 to $10, based on their construction of origami paper planes in a five-minute period. Evaluation sheets rated the students on both quality and quantity but payments were made randomly. However, the students who received a higher payment felt their work was superior to the others, whether it was in quality or quantity.
One of the study’s authors said, “The money in that case is a signal of competence and worth, and that makes it addictive, because the more you have, the more you want.”
In his book, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” psychologist Dr. David Myers says, “The happiness attained by a purchase or a level of wealth soon wears off and people adapt to whatever level of wealth they have achieved, as the experience of lottery winners shows. Our becoming much better-off [financially] over the last thirty years has not been accompanied by one iota of increased happiness and life satisfaction. It’s shocking because it contradicts our society’s materialistic assumptions, but how can we ignore the hard truth: Once beyond poverty, further economic growth does not appreciably improve human morale. Making more money—that aim of so many graduates and other American dreamers does not breed bliss.”
What does bring satisfaction? Contentment with what we have.
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