Culture Magazine

Buying Happiness

By V3rv0se

This week at Harper Morgan English we’re talking about buying happiness.

In his talk [1], Michael Norton explains that money can in fact buy happiness. He and his research team have been studying the effects of giving small amounts of money to strangers and asking them to spend it in different ways. In each experiment, one group received 5 dollars and was told to spend it on themselves, while another group was given the same amount but told to spend it on someone else. At the end of the day, Michael’s team questioned the participants on what they spent the money on and how happy they felt as a result of their purchases. Overwhelmingly, the group which spent the money on others felt happier, whereas the other group experienced no difference in their mood.

Michael and his team then expanded on the experiment by conducting it in various countries. The findings show that no matter where, people always felt happier if they spent the money they had been given on someone else. He also points out that in some cases there are universal similarities in the way that people spend money and the effect this has on them – he gives an example of people taking their significant others on dates. Micheal concludes by saying that in a survey about charitable giving, the results show that people who donate to charity experience happiness.

Here are some things for you to consider;

When was the last time you bought something for someone else? Did it make you happy? Would you have been happier spending that money on yourself?

Do you give to charity? Does it make you happy to know your money is helping someone in need? Do you think giving to charity makes you happier than if you spent that money on someone close to you?

Is this all a sign that we have too much? After we pay for our basic needs, we try to find ways to spend whatever we have left on something to make us happier. Should we, instead, be giving it away to those who cannot cover their basics?

Let us know what you think! Comment, share and join the conversation.


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