$10,000 is the magic figure. Apparently another dollar won’t make us any happier.

‘Money consistently buys happiness right up to about $10,000 per capita income, and after that point the correlation disappears.’ So says Richard Layard, respected British economist.

Bill McKibbon, in his book ‘Deep Economy’, summaries Layard’s work concluding that our culture of satiation and endless accumulation is pursuing the wrong thing.

‘…past the $10,000 point, there’s a complete scattering: when the Irish were making a third as much as Americas they were reporting higher levels of satisfaction, as were the Swedes, the Danes, the Dutch. Costa Ricans score higher than Japanese; French people are about as satisfied with their lives as Venezuelans. In fact, past the point of basic needs being met, the “satisfaction” data scramble in mind-bending ways. A sampling of Forbes magazine’s “richest Americans” has happiness scores identical with those of the Pennsylvania Amish and only a whisker above those of Swedes, not to mention Masai tribesmen.’

‘Because because while while we are busy earning money psychologists are finding that things other than money are the greatest predictors of happiness: relationships, community, health, and a relationship with God.’

Regarding relationship with God, Richard Layard has found that prayer is one of the highest predictors of happiness,  just behind sex.

How can the church live into this reality? We are confused by the myth of endless desire as much as any Westerner. One thing is certain: our friends and neighbours are looking for an alternative vision for their lives.  People are seeking a vision of humanity and life centered around generosity and community. When we learn to live into the truth that accumulation doesn’t satisfy we will begin to be the  ‘light on a hill’ and ‘salt’ that we are called to be.

Those who follow Christ must be living into an alternative narrative – the narrative of God’s restoring the world to the place of thriving that he created it for in the first place. As we live into this narrative we create new stories. There new stories must be told by Christ’s followers -new stories of generosity, justice and restoration.

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About Mark Glanville

Mark Glanville is a pastor-scholar who ministers in a missional urban community, Grandview Church, Vancouver, and is Professor of Old Testament and congregational studies at the Missional Training Center, Phoenix (missionaltraining.org). Mark's research focusses upon the Pentateuch, biblical ethics, and mission. Mark has authored an introductory book on Exodus (Lexham, forthcoming), numerous refereed articles and chapters on the Pentateuch, mission, and refugee related issues, as well as numerous popular articles. Mark is presently co-authoring a book, "Providing Refuge: A Missional and Political Theology." Mark is regularly called upon to speak on in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. His previous career was as a jazz pianist in Sydney, Australia (Chick Corea and Wynton Kelly are his musical heroes).
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