How to Really Turn Your Wealth into Happiness

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You don't have to be rich to be happy, but having money certainly does help. We've got lots of different definitions for prosperity — some of it material, some of it personal, some of it professional. Moreover, most of us think we know it when we see it, but new research might prove us wrong.

An international team of marketing experts has just released a study that breaks down materialism and how it affects people differently. If you thought this was just about Marie Kondo and capitalism, it turns out that we experience wealth in two separate categories, neither of which have to do with how much stuff you have.

The first type is happiness materialism, the idea that "wealth and material consumption is the sign of a happy life." This is your typical reality TV conspicuous consumption model: You may have all the best things, but none of it keeps you satisfied. The second type is called success materialism. Here, material belongings are a sign of success and achievement, and can boost a person's "economic motivation" to keep climbing the ladder. It's this mindset that makes our happiness really stick.

This is the same basic principle undergirding career satisfaction, when we're working for a sense of fulfillment rather than just the paycheck. We can also give our own happiness more staying power when we link our purchases with personal goals. For the most part, our own goals for the good life are relatively achievable. If you're mindful about your wealth, chances are you really will know it when you see it.