As a track and field athlete, I understand what it means to be fighting for enough income to sustain. But many of us are passing up 30-60 grand more of income we could get working. Should I do it? And will this bring more happiness?

Again and again, studies show that one of the top goals of people is to achieve financial success. Whether this is though to bring happiness through security and basic needs, or through the pursuit of material gains and exotic pleasures, it shows up as a top goal of most people when they think of being happy.

Some studies have tried to put a dollar value on our happiness, attempting to realign our values with what actually works to make us happy. Below is an excerpt from Social: Why are Brains Are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman

Volunteering 1 x week = an increase from 20,000 to 75,000 a year in income

Having a good friend that you see most days vs not having such friend = extra $100,000

Married = an increase of $100,000

Divorced = losing $90,000

Giving to charity = doubling your salary

Physical health = a boost of $400,000

The moral of the story is embracing materialism leads to more unhappiness. Which brings me back to my original question:

If I can make enough to survive for 3-8 years as a professional athlete, will this bring my happiness?

Physical health is automatic, with better nutrition, sleep and lower stress. Social life can suffer due to moving away, although an active effort in your spare time can allow you to flourish. Seeing many good friends on a daily basis at practice, spare time to volunteer, and overall more control over your time leads all increase happiness, scientifically speaking.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!