Good news: Money can buy happiness after all!
By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that it’s possible to buy happiness after all: providing you spend money on others.
In a series of studies, a team led by UBC professor Elizabeth Dunn found that people report significantly greater happiness if they spend money on gifts for others or charitable donations, rather than on themselves.
The researchers asked participants to rate their general happiness; report their annual income; and provide a breakdown of their monthly spending, including bills, gifts for themselves, gifts for others and donations to charity.
Regardless of how much income each person made, reports Dunn, those who spent more money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves didn’t.
A parallel study also measured the happiness levels of employees before and after they received an annual profit-sharing bonus, which ranged between $3,000 and $8,000. What affected the employees’ happiness, says Dunn, was not so much the size of the bonus but how they spent it.
In another experiment, the researchers gave participants a $5 or $20 bill, asking them to spend the money by the end of that day. Half the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves, while the balance were told to spend the money on others.
The results mirrored those from their other studies. Yet again, those charged with spreading the wealth reported feeling happier than did the other group.
It seems, even in tough times, that joys of giving are very real – just like your mother told you.
Has this been true in your own life?
Posted by: Trepidum | Apr 27, 2021 8:38:06 AM
Money is a worthless piece of paper or metal without intrinsic value. Humans have arbitrarily assigned a value to it. Have you ever seen a member of another species actively gather or hoard it? A liquor bottle is as valuable as gold to a drunk and worthless to a monk. The liquor bottle however remains the same object.
I am amazed at how many people make their living managing other peoples' money. Society would be better off without them.
Posted by: Alex | Apr 27, 2021 8:43:52 AM
Does Money buy happiness...i don't know, but having lived in Easter Europe in the past i know for sure that "Poverty does NOT buy Happiness"...so I for one would like to try it the rich way... :-)
Posted by: Mr.D | Apr 27, 2021 9:55:27 AM
In a conversation with my young daughter we were talking about family friends who are well off ( still middle class ,but new house etc.) she asked if they were " RICH" to which I replied as a parent trying to instill in my young child some values " that money wasn't everything " ,She only paused for a second and replied " That's easy to say when your Rich ! " Trend carefully your childern are watching !!
Posted by: Accter | Apr 27, 2021 11:02:41 AM
Well Trepidum I think you missed the concept of money. I agree money does not have an intrinsic value however money is a physical representation of a person's work and intelligence. Both in varying measures are required to amass wealth (I won't say luck also doesn't play a role but many people can create luck through pursuing opportunity so its a moot point). Without money there is no reward and without reward productivity falls which will lead to all of us having less. So call money a necessary evil to allow us to differentiate us from each other and to allow the best and brightest to thrive. In every species there are characteristics that allow part of the species to be more successful than others; with humans this is the ability to earn money which is derived from hard work and intelligence.
On the article I completely agree money truly has the ability to create happiness if used correctly. Those that would disagree don't understand that happiness must be earned and that a person worrying about survival will never be happy. Anybody (yes anybody) has the ability to be wealthy if they make the right sacrifices and are smart and hard working so anybody can earn happiness.
Posted by: Dave | Apr 27, 2021 11:04:49 AM
The world would certainly be different if Homo economicus, the theoretical "Economic Man", was not predisposed to make rational, profit-maximizing, and efficient choices. Unfortunately, the reality is that greed and mass consumption has become reinforced through multi-generational and cross cultural social constructs.
Perhaps the world would be a much better place without free market capitalism or the contributions of Milton Friedman and Adam Smith, but it is impossible to change history...
Posted by: sansu | Apr 27, 2021 11:29:58 AM
In our society money buys security and the opportunity to do things that you personally find fulfilling - such as volunteering, supporting charities, working at something you like that maybe doesn't pay so well as opposed to woking in a high stress job just to earn more money. It buys the best education for your children and allows a person to live where ever they want. There is nothing romantic about struggling financially.
If some people can't find happiness in wealth, well that is very sad. I expect those people have never known what it is to be poor. Maybe they should do something with their wealth for someone other than themselves. When I fantasize about winning the lottery, yes I think about the security for myself and my family and the end of the daily drudgery of working. But I also think about being able to sponsor medical research, help the mentally ill, reduce hunger. How wonderful it would be to have that opportunity.
Posted by: Trepidum | Apr 27, 2021 1:02:20 PM
I read each line of what you wrote carefully. If I missed the concept of money, well, you missed the concept of happiness. Your inner happiness is always present but has just been clouded over by money and other man-made illusions. Remove those clouds and you will find what has always been there inside of you all along.
You equate money with "work" and "intelligence". Do you really think that money is the guaranteed outcome of these two? Ask yourself, where did your intelligence come from? Is it really yours? If no one benefits from your intelligence, do they really care if you are "intelligent" or not? Work is the visible output of your intelligence, used correctly or not. Whether money comes to you as a result of your work IS NOT IN YOUR HANDS. SOMEONE HAS TO GIVE YOU THE MONEY! There are jobs that involve just as much work (and risk, sometimes) as yours particularly elsewhere in the world, but which pay far less. Does that automatically make them less happy than you? And don't forget, SOMEONE HAS TO GIVE YOU SOMETHING IN RETURN FOR YOUR MONEY when you spend it. That is not within your capabilities either. It is not automatic. Money can change enormously in value in an instant (remember the story of Midas and the golden touch).
Posted by: Ken | Apr 27, 2021 3:56:52 PM
Money is the evolution of the barter system. When you go somewhere to get something, say a restaurant for a meal, the cook and servers are providing you with something, which in turn requires you to give them something for that service. So the question is, is it easier to barter for that meal with money from your pocket, or are your pockets big enough to carry a chicken or two?
Trepidum, other spieces don't live in houses, don't drive cars, don't care about electricity or running water, and are very capable of spending their day to day lives foraging for food. That's why they don't need money.
Posted by: Trepidum | Apr 27, 2021 4:49:42 PM
Of course we NEED money. It (only) helps keep you alive! It just doesn't give you HAPPINESS!
There is only so much food you can eat in a day. Your body will rebel after a point if you keep stuffing it. Same thing goes with money. It is a TOOL, nothing more! It gives you as much happiness as a hammer or a ruler.
Does this clarify the point?
Posted by: Mr. Steed | Apr 27, 2021 9:55:01 PM
I don't know what planet Trepidum is from or what he's been smoking, and I don't care. I have lived on both ends of the spectrum and I can say that being without money was the most depressing time of my life. I now have more money than I need and am happier than I have ever dreamed possible. By the way, I have complete comtrol over whether or not money comes to me through my hard work. Corporations pay huge amounts of money for my services. If they don't, they don't get my services! I chose who I work with and when I work. Maybe money doesn't buy everyone happiness, so I only speak for myself. Trepidum, don't bother responding. Nothing you can say will change my beliefs. I am just too happy to care.
Posted by: Trepidum | Apr 28, 2021 9:26:49 AM
Thanks everyone (Accter, Ken, Mr. Steed)!
I participated in this exercise to get a sense of where people (whom I assume you are representative of) stand on this issue of money and happiness. For those who care I am quite content and a financially secure professional. The goal is to get to a higher plane of thinking and living, beyond where most people stagnate. Everyone's route in life is different. My apologies for using capital letters here and there if that offended anyone.
Posted by: Accter | Apr 30, 2021 3:51:51 PM
Well Trepidum I can't agree with your findings but I know many people share your feelings. I don't consider wealth as a requirement of happiness but for most people that depend upon themselves for support zero wealth will mean stress and worry which will preclude wealth.
Yes I belive that intelligent and hard working people will typically end up reasonably wealthy if they make the right choices in life. I also belive my intelligence is mine (I found your comment there a little strange but if I read you right run down the lines of "I think therefore I am" to get to where I am at).
Also nobody is GIVEN money, you earn money. So yes I control how much money I earn from the work I do. If you choose not to pay me my expected amount for my work I go elsewhere so yes I exercise control over that.
I have to agree that world currency exchange and inflation are not in my hands however I am within the system so my expectations for pay will change with inflation so I am not concerned that prices might change.
So from one educated professional (chartered accoutnant) to another (I'm assuming phycologist or teacher, or some similar field) we each frame this from our backgrounds but the bottom line is people that are starving usually aren't happy.
Posted by: Trepidum | May 1, 2021 9:25:21 AM
Thanks Accter. This is fun. We can keep this going until the blog link leaves the MSN page. I am indeed a university professor. Good guess!
I believe (this is of course highly personal) that the mind and intellect are nothing but body parts and are not really the Self (as opposed to self, the causal body). The Self is eternally happy. It is our identification with the body-mind-intellect equipment as "I" which needs to be overcome. The "I" is actually the Self (AKA the universal spirit). Any thought or action is simply the Self acting through your body-mind-intellect equipment.
To relate this to money, even if you believe that you can control your actions, you cannot control the outcome of your actions. For example, you can meet someone's demand with your services, but you cannot control whether they have that demand for your service and choose it or not. Even if someone agrees to pay you, that money could in theory slip away at any point in the transfer process. You cannot control that either. Also, if one has the choice to be rich, then they also had the choice to be poor. Most likely that was not their choice, so how can richness be their choice? We smile quietly within ourselves when our children say "don't come in to my room" because we know that the room (and the house) really belongs to us as the adults. The same is true for all wealth. We need to be humble to our limitations and let go of the ego construct of mind-body-intellect as "I".
Finally, so far we have not distinguished between pleasure (which Mr. Steed above has talked about) that is fleeting, temporary, and related to external objects, and happiness, which is the inherent nature of the Self, eternal, indestructible, and unrelated to the external environment including money. There are numerous examples in the world's literature of very poor people being happier than the richest of the rich (e.g. the happiest man in the kingdom who had no shirt). It is all on the inside.
Thanks again for checking back.
Posted by: Dr. Steed | Sep 10, 2021 4:46:57 PM
Trepidum, I do not understand why you link me with "pleasure" that is fleeting, temporary, etc. I am a professional engineer and have achieved my financial independence through hard work and living modestly. At this stage in my life, money is something I never even think about. The word "budget" does not exist in my vocabulary. This does not mean that I spend money on frivolous, material things to gain happiness. I can get what I need without having to worry about "can I afford it". My only money problem is how to hide it from the government, so I pay someone to do this for me. Even if I lost me job now, I am financially secure for life. I focus on my family, hobbies, and making the utmost contribution in my profession. My happiness does not come from throwing money at "external objects". Why would you even make this assumption! Money is just one thing I do not have to worry about.