A recent article in Forbes magazine (Sept 12, 2010) by Michael I. Norton was titled…Yes, Money Can Buy Happiness If You Give It Away. He and his colleagues developed a very complex formula to find out how much money it would take to make people happy. They found that once people reached a certain income level, additional money did not make people happy unless they started to give it away. They concluded that accumulating materials goods doesn’t make people happy but what really makes people happy is building relationships with others. For example, think of the wealthy person who buys multiple homes with numerous bedrooms but does not have any family and friends to host there. This is not fulfilling.
To test this idea they approached strangers on the street and gave them different sums of money to spend. Half were told to spend it on themselves and half were told to spend it on others. Those who spent the money on themselves bought things like coffee and food but those who spent the money on others bought gifts for family members or gave the money to the homeless. Those who spent the money on others reported feeling much happier at the end of the day than those who spent the money on themselves. It didn’t matter if the amount of money was large or small, it was the same result. It is not how much you spend but how you spend it that boosts the spirits1.
1 Forbes magazine (Sept 12, 2010) by Michael I. Norton was titled…Yes, Money Can Buy Happiness If You Give It Away.