Research by scientists at Goettingen University in Germany has found that people with lots of money were seldom happier if their friends and colleagues at work were just as rich.
In contrast, having friends and fellow workers who earned less was a good recipe for happiness.
The team surveyed 1,100 people with different incomes and looked at their friends, working environments and the areas where they lived.
Author of the study, Peter Schwarz, said: "If you have a new BMW, it does not mean much if your neighbours all have one as well. In contrast, if you only have a Mini, but it's new and you are the only person in the village with a car, it makes you very happy."