In terms of the whole ‘money can’t buy you happiness’ shtick, I’ve often suggested that a millionaire anthropologist give me a ton of money to test to theory. But that’s not about to happen. So I was relieved to read a piece in Psychology Today by Nicole Mead, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing at the University of Melbourne, on the truth behind the adage.
In fact, money can buy us happiness. And it doesn’t even necessarily have to be a lot of money.
Here are three ways that money can actually buy you happiness
1 Spend it on others
In the article, Mead quotes research that has found that ‘the more people spend on others (donations and gifts for others), the happier they are. In contrast, spending on oneself is not related to happiness.’ This apparently rings true even for small amounts of cash. ‘The researchers gave participants either $5 or $20. Participants who were instructed to spend the money on others were happier as a result than those who were instructed to spend it on oneself,’ says Mead. ‘The amount of money participants spent did not matter. What mattered was what they did with it.’
2 Do things instead of owning things
It’s now exactly news that we’re a society that relishes material things more than others. However, Mead refers to another study which shows that spending our hard-earned cash on experiences rather than material things increases happiness. What experiences, exactly? It depends on your age. ‘Amit Bhattacharjee and Cassie Mogilner find that younger people derive more happiness from extraordinary experiences (uncommon and infrequent) while older people derive more happiness from ordinary experiences (common and frequent).’
3 Buy yourself some time
‘We can make more money, but we can’t generate more time,’ Mead points out. Because of this, it’s worth spending your money on time-saving. ‘Research conducted in the USA, Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands finds that spending money on time-saving services promotes happiness and life satisfaction.’
Tempted to order your groceries online? Do it. Redecorating your house? It’s absolutely okay to pay for someone to paint it. ‘In modern life, we are time starved, and it feels good to have that much more time to do something that truly brings you happiness.’
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