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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Positive Relationships

Most important factors to live a fulfilling life

By Kamaron McNairSeptember 21, 2023
woman smiling

Mengwen Cao | Getty Images

Having a job you like may not just make the day-to-day easier, it also seems to improve your overall life satisfaction.

Americans say having a career you enjoy is the most important factor to living a fulfilled life, according to a new study from Pew Research. Over 70% of respondents say having a job or career they enjoy is an extremely important factor to living a fulfilling life. Just 24% of people said having a lot of money is equally important.

Here’s the percentage of Americans who say each element is extremely or very important to living a fulfilling life, according to Pew Research:

  • Having a job or career they enjoy: 71%
  • Having close friends61%
  • Having children26%
  • Having a lot of money: 24%
  • Being married: 23%

Still, money may make it easier for you to obtain the things that ultimately bring you fulfillment, and 49% of Americans agree having a lot of money is “somewhat important” to living a fulfilled life.

What’s more, the majority of Americans say they need to earn at least $100,000 a year just to be comfortable, according to the most recent CNBC Your Money Survey.

But at the end of the day, people seem to see more value in spending time doing the things they enjoy with the people they love.

Money becomes less important with age

While adults overall don’t seem to be putting too much emphasis on their income in terms of feeling fulfilled, younger adults are still finding their way, Pew found.

Though just 24% of all adults say money is very important to their feeling of fulfillment, that percentage jumps to 35% for those ages 18 to 29, Pew reports. 

It’s not too surprising to see young professionals — who may be struggling to figure out their personal budgets — imagine more money would make their lives better. Many of these young adults are likely finishing college and entering the workforce for the first time.

On the flip side, the oldest adults surveyed were the least likely to say money is very important.

In fact, the proportion of respondents who say money is very important for life fulfillment gets smaller for each age cohort. Here’s the percentage of each age group that says money is extremely important to feel fulfilled:

  • Ages 18 to 29: 35%
  • Ages 30 to 49: 26%
  • Ages 50 to 64: 19%
  • Ages 65 and older: 13%

You may not need a lot of money to live a rich life

Research backs up the idea that more money doesn’t necessarily equate to greater happiness or fulfillment.

The most important factor in keeping our lives happy and healthy is positive relationships, according to an 85-year-long Harvard study.

And another study from the University of Pennsylvania found that higher incomes were correlated with higher levels of happiness, but only if you were generally content to begin with. People who reported lower levels of life satisfaction did not see their mood improve with a higher income, the researchers found.

Self-made millionaire Ramit Sethi encourages his followers to focus on their values and passions to build a rich life. Making more money can help you do that, but simply adjusting your budget to reflect your priorities can also make you feel richer, he says.

Money creates meaning, and that is really a core part of a rich life,” Sethi previously told CNBC Make It.

Real estate entrepreneur and fellow self-made millionaire Barbara Corcoran agrees: Money can’t solve all of your problems.

“The greed fallacy is there are as many miserable rich people as there are miserable poor people,” Corcoran told CNBC Make It earlier this year. “Money has nothing to do with being happier. It really doesn’t.”

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams