InMarket: The happiness factor

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Remember when that song was an earworm in your brain? It was 1988 and Bobby McFerrin topped the charts. Not that the song made him happy. He had a spat with then-candidate George Bush who used it in his campaign. McFerrin didn’t like that and refused at times to sing it, which didn’t make audiences happy. Now, it’s 2014 and what song is topping the Hit Parade? “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and it’s another earworm. I can’t get it out of my head, except now it’s competing with “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” as the unhappiest of “happy” mash-ups. In the ‘60s there were The Turtles with “Happy Together,” a song that modulated between minor and major as it got to the chorus, giving it a “happy” sound. It too is an earworm. Yes, we like to be happy or pretend to be anyway. Happy hour anyone? So what does it take to be happy?

Many Americans don’t think they need a CEO-sized paycheck to be happy, or even six figures. When asked how much money would put a spring in their step, just over half those surveyed in CNNMoney’s American Dream poll said it would take less than $100,000. Nearly a quarter of the people who took the poll, conducted by ORC International, said between $50,000 and $74,999 would do the trick. That calls to mind the results of a Princeton study, which found that emotional well-being rose with income, but not much beyond the $75,000 mark. Remember “Richie Rich, the Poor Little Rich Boy” comic? Interestingly, some people really don’t care about money: 10 percent of those polled said somewhere north of a buck but south of $30,000 would be their minimum requirement. Those people should pursue a career in journalism. On the high end of the scale, 23 percent said they’d need between $100,000 and $199,999 to really feel good about the world. Very few of those people seek careers in journalism. Of course, making a high (or higher) income doesn’t guarantee you’ll be rich, happy or any combination of the two. It all depends on what you do with your paychecks.

How many sports star millionaires who seemingly have everything have filed bankruptcy? Plenty. And don’t forget about the most successful “happy” song of all, “Happy Birthday To You”! In 2008, Warner Bros. smiled all the way to bank as that song’s royalties brought in $5,000 per day. Happy indeed. CNN contributed to this report.