I live in the Northeast and the winters are longer than long. They can be downright brutal. As soon as April hits though, all the waiting for warmer weather starts to pay off. The leaves start to unfurl on the trees, there are flowers popping up, and after a long, silent winter, I love the sound of birds.
I had a friend who once told me she couldn’t stand it when she heard the birds chirping at sunrise and I couldn’t relate — I love it so much. There’s nothing that can cheer me up like the sound of a cheerful bird first thing in the morning.
I love spotting red cardinals on my runs, and we have several birds’ nests on our property and always love watching them build and keeping an eye out for when their eggs hatch. It truly is magical — and, yes, it does improve my quality of life. Birds just make me happy.
However, when I heard about this study which found that people in Europe get just as much happiness from birds as they do from higher salaries, I think these people may have lost their dang minds.
Ecological Economics found that people living in areas with more bird species reported a higher rate of “life-satisfaction” than those with fewer — and the boost they got from birds was better than the boost others got from a 10 percent increase in income.
Um, you know what you can do with more money? Buy a fucking bird if you want. You know what you could also do with more chedda? Move to a place where there was more wildlife, more birds chirping, and buy a shit-ton of bird feeders (with all your money) outside to attract more fine-feathered friends.
Hell, if you saved for long enough you could have your own bird sanctuary if it made you that happy.
26,000 adults across 26 European countries were polled for the survey, and the study found that they were “over 50 percent happier with a 10 percent rise in bird species than an extra 10 percent increase to their income.”
The study’s lead author, Joel Methorst, said, “The happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species.”
To be clear, the people in this study were not asked, “Which would you prefer, a raise at work or a bunch of birds fluttering around in your backyard?” It wasn’t a choice of one or the other. Rather, the study asked people to rate their own “life-satisfaction.” Then, when they analyzed the data, they figured out which variables gave people the biggest boost.
They found that communities that are “bird species rich” were at least as happy as communities that are, you know, rich. Like, money rich.
I get that money isn’t everything. And I know people say things like, “Money can’t buy you happiness.” But to that I say, “OH YES IT CAN.”
If I got a pay raise, I could hire someone to clean my house and that would make me happy. I could do other shit besides scrub my toilet and shower.
A pay raise allows you to enjoy your favorite food more often, or get braces for your child without sweating the astronomical cost (much).
Money allows you to do things like put in a pool, donate to charity, buy all the books you could read.
While listening to, and watching, birds is enjoyable and it does improve the quality of my life, I’d rather do it from a flamingo floaty from my pool, or on a deck that my hard earned money bought me.
All the chirpers in the world can’t make my life easier by delivering packages to my door, and allowing me to sleep at night because I’m not wondering how I’m going to pay the heat bill.
No, money isn’t the only gateway to happiness. But it has been proven to make us happy by putting our minds at rest so we don’t have to worry about how we are going to pay our bills, or if we need to take unexpected time off without pay.
The top things that make us happy are relationships, experiences, helping others, and our health. And money enhances all of these things. Sorry, birds, but you can’t donate to charity, or pay for couples therapy. I know I’m happiest when all is right with my kids, I’ve just talked to my best friends, or my boyfriend and I have been able to spend a block of quality time together.
But below that in my happiness rankings is having peace of mind that I can pay for repairs on my house, take my kids out for ice cream, drop a bunch of money on my hair because I deserve it, or treat my sisters to an epic birthday gift.
So, while I will still enjoy the little birdies outside my window all day long, and I am thankful they are here, I have to be real and say money would make my life more fulfilling. I don’t know what specific type of person the survey spoke to, but I sure wish I had their outlook on our fine feathered friends.
What would you rather have? More birds flying around your house, or a pay raise?
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