Actually, Money Does Buy Happiness!

I think most people feel ‘charity’, in almost any form, makes people feel good.  You do something good for someone else, and it seems like whatever it was you did, makes you feel doubly good!  Harvard Business Review recently had a good article on how giving, especially money, can bring you happiness:

“Buffet recently penned an op-ed titled “My Philanthropic Pledge” — but rather than offer financial advice about giving, he suggested we give as a way to enhance our emotional wellbeing. Of his decision to donate 99% of his wealth to charity, Buffett said that he “couldn’t be happier.”

But do we need to give away billions like Buffet in order to experience that warm glow? Luckily for us ordinary folks, even more modest forms of generosity can make us happy. In a series of experiments, we’ve found that asking people to spend money on others — from giving to charity to buying gifts for friends and family — reliably makes them happier than spending that same money on themselves.

And our research shows that even in very poor countries like India and Uganda — where many people are struggling to meet their basic needs — individuals who reflected on giving to others were happier than those who reflected on spending on themselves. What’s more, spending even a few dollars on someone else can trigger a boost in happiness. In one study, we found that asking people to spend as little as $5 on someone else over the course of a day made them happier at the end of that day than people who spent the $5 on themselves.”

Who says money can’t buy happiness!  Just not in the way we traditionally think.  It’s not about the bigger house, or the nicer car, or the best wine – all those things will make you more comfortable in your life – but they aren’t guaranteed to bring you more happiness.  I’m also not naive to think that everyone would be happy giving away that which they worked hard for – for some that would be a nightmare – not a blessing.  That’s alright – that’s inclusion at its finest – we all have things that will make us happy.  I do think for the majority of our employees – donating time, money, skills, etc., helps them feel good about themselves – which makes it a little easier to feel happy about their place in the world.

Tomorrow morning I’m handing each one of my employees a $100 bill and asking them to go out into the world at some point their day and give it away – randomly – or not randomly – to someone other than themselves.  $100 isn’t a giant amount for my staff – but I’m sure it will have a big meaning to someone else – I think some of the people on my team will feel good about helping someone out – about surprising them and making their day/week/month.   My hope is they’ll come back with a smile and a story.  My hope is they’ll feel a little better about their day.  My hope is they’ll feel happy.  My hope is – money can buy happiness.


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