Does money make you happy? Do wealthy people really have more happiness than other people? This has been a hotly debated subject for many years, but we decided to shed some light on the issue by looking at a recent study done on the subject.
The Michael Norton Study
Harvard social science researcher, Michael Norton, argues that money can buy happiness, if it is spent correctly. In 2008 Norton conducted
a social experiment where he took a team to the University of British Columbia campus and handed out envelopes of five or twenty dollar bills paired with instructions for students. The instructions asked some recipients to spend the money on themselves and other instructions
for recipients to spend the money for someone other than themselves. Afterwards, Norton then recorded how much the students felt in
terms of incremental happiness and how they spent the money. Almost without any variance the students who spent money on others were recorded as happier than those students who spent the money on themselves. Those that spent the money on themselves did not have any noticeable difference in being happier. What is more is that for those that spent the money on other people it didn’t matter how much they spent or how they spent it.
Norton then took his this experiment one step further and conducted this test in over 100 other counties to see if the results were the same. Norton’s team found almost everywhere they went the group that spent money on someone else were almost always happier!
The Wall Street Journal Findings
In another interesting study The Wall Street Journal ran a recent poll reporting that the three happiest groups were those over 65 years of age, Latinos, and households making over $75,000/yr. So based off
The Wall Street Journal if you are a 65+, Latino and making over $75,000/yr., you must be pretty darn happy! But here we can further argue that happiness does not just equate to income. Long-time happiness researcher Luigino Bruni puts his finding like this: “Relationships in particular are central to happiness.
Time spent with the family has the largest effect on life satisfaction, of all the factors contributing to happiness”. So while total income does show to have an effect, relationships and generosity are also significant contributors. I like the advice below from Martha Washington:
I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
Now here are some fun summer facts:
- Educator Horace Mann invented school summer vacations in 1840.
- France’s Eiffel Tower can grow by more than 6 inches in summer due to the expansion of the iron on hot days.
- Frisbees were originally designed as pie plates in the 1870s. Students started throwing them in the 1940s.
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