According to this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences money can buy you happiness ... sort of. Surveys of 450,000 Americans done in 2008-09 showed that you need at least $75,000 to keep the wolves at bay on a daily basis. Less than that and your sense of security and the daily grind wear you down so having extra money does, in fact, bring you some breathing room and ... happiness.
That's not to say more money doesn't bring you an increase in your feelings of success, it does. But the emotional well-being measured in the surveys seems to level off. Apparently the added responsibilities and financial concerns that come with more money balance out the increased income.
Haven't you known folks earning less than $75,000 who were happy? Or ones that earned much more who were happy? Focusing on an external variable over-simplifies the reasons for happiness. It's like taking a pill to treat a symptom instead of looking at the cause of the problem.
The bottom line is happiness begins inside, not outside. The sooner we realize that the happier we will be. It's not what happens to us in life, it's how we react to it that matters.