It is a decade’s age-old question. Can money buy happiness? Ask any given person you meet and the typical answer varies. Some say no while others say yes… or at least it can help! Whatever your take on the correlation between money and happiness, there’s no denying science; and science says it does.
A recent study conducted by Harvard Business School stated, spending money to pay someone to do mundane tasks that free your time makes people happier. Still, yet, another survey conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan found that countries with higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) tend to be happier. The inhabitants of those countries providing responses also demonstrated that the richer a person was, the happier they seemed to be. However, at a certain point of income that happiness tapered off. So basically once you reach a particular income level, increasing your earnings won’t magnify your happiness to a higher degree.
Research conducted in the late 70s by Richard Easterlin persuaded us to believe money could not buy happiness. While it was obviously better to be rich than poor according to Eastelin’s research, he found no proof that happiness rose with income—which led to the popular thought. However, Easterlin did not have access to technology to thoroughly conduct his survey and measuring millions of people in countries all across the world. His small statistical sample polarized the world into Camp Yes or Camp No based off one’s personal beliefs about wealth, not necessarily a mathematically sound assessment.
Easterlin’s research also quite possibly led to the “Keeping up with the Joneses” ideology taking on a wide-spread socioeconomic context. The phrase actually derived from a 1913 comic strip with a similar perspective on wealth. His thought was that income was relative, not absolute. Basically, even though most everyone in America carries a cell phone, it won’t bring happiness, especially when your neighbor has the iPhone 10 or Samsung Galaxy 18!
So with the new studies suggesting money does buy happiness, we put together a few tips on ways that it might help.
As mentioned earlier, if you are saving time by paying someone else to do a job you hate, you will be happier. Researchers surveyed almost 4,500 people and found that 28% of the time happiness increased. What the respondents lost in income, was made up for in happiness by trading their money for time. Freeing time up for the person to utilize elsewhere led to more overall satisfaction among the group no matter the actual yearly income of the person surveyed.
So if you don’t want to clean that toilet, hire someone else and you’ll be happier. Hate painting? Bring in the professionals so you can explore something you actually want to do!
Chances are that spending money on memorable experiences instead of materialistic goods will likely be more meaningful. That means instead of buying the latest gadget, you invest the money on a day with family and friends. The positive feelings from a memory will last you long after your TV bites the dust.
I actually have some friends that decided to forgo a normal Christmas in favor of a memorable one. Instead of spending $1000 on gifts they knew their kids would toss to the side the day after opening them, they took the money and headed to a popular vacation spot instead.
They tell me it was nerve-racking at first thinking about spending the holiday in a hotel without other family members or tinsel and trees. However, they made lasting memories their children still talk about to this day. They had the pool to themselves and opted for a large meal at IHOP, even tipping the waiter generously for working on such a special day. After that first trip, they’ve never looked back. It is now a family tradition.
Am I saying you should kick Christmas to the curb? No, but before you slide that card for the latest and greatest, consider how what you are buying will make you feel in a year.
An old Chinese proverb states, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” What makes one person happy may not be the same thing that brings joy to someone else. While happiness is a rather abstract concept, one activity that everyone seems to find pleasure in is giving to others.
Elizabeth Dunn is a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, studying the notion of happiness. At a recent conference in London, she stated: “People who donate money to charity are happier in poor and rich countries alike.” Dunn went on to say, “You don’t have to have a lot to experience the emotional benefits of giving.”
So it truly is better to give than receive. If you’re looking to increase your level of happiness, try implementing philanthropy more.
From tiny homes to paring down possessions, in recent years the trend of minimalism has taken off. And it is proving to be an effective way of life. Those partaking in it offer praise to leaving behind the everyday luxuries. Perhaps you aren’t ready to go full force in the world of minimalism, but indulging yourself sparingly could leave you feeling more satisfied. In doing so, you free up extra cash for paying off debt or perhaps investing more towards your retirement. Remember the old adage, less is more! If you’re looking for happiness, there could be more truth there than you think!
So there you have it, those are a few ways money can buy happiness! It can easily be yours if you pay others to do what you hate, experience life to the fullest, give more of your wealth away, and buy less.