Does More Money Mean More Happiness?
“Money buys Happiness”. Does it really? I do not believe so, and neither do the researchers who study it. Studies show that even when our incomes increase, the happiness levels stay the same. People just assume that if they make more money, it will cure all of their unhappiness. Quality of money spent versus quantity of money – that is what changes our happiness.
How Money Brings Us Happiness
We are truly happier when we spend our money on others instead of ourselves. The interesting fact is that we are even happier when we can see their happiness. Think of the holiday season and gift-giving – are you happier when you mail the gift or when you give it in person and witness their expression? Humans are highly social, so this makes sense.
Proving the Facts
MRI’s have proven that giving money away, even forcefully, lights up the “feel-good” center of the brain. How we spend our money matters. For example, I do not care about how much professional athletes make per year – what I want to hear is how much they gave to charity. Cars, houses, pools, and “bling” do not mean anything if they are lonely. They could buy a car for someone without a working vehicle instead of adding to their collection. They could even help a veteran with a down payment on his or her own home instead of purchasing a third for themselves. They really will be happy that they did; meaningful spending makes us feel great!
What Can Money Buy?
Experiences are worth more to people than material things. Spending money at a theme park versus at a mall actually increases our happiness. It is quite simple, actually, to spend money AND be happier. Treat someone you have not seen for a while to coffee or pay for the next person’s fast food. Take your children to the movie theater or to a museum. The best vacation I had was when my husband and I loaded up our 4 children and the Chihuahua into the minivan for a 4 day trip. We did not go far – about 100 miles, and we packed a cooler instead of eating out every meal. Our youngest still talks about going on the “great vacation”. We did not spend much money on things, but we spent it on experience. We visited museums, living history farms, parks. It was, by far, the best time we have ever had as a family; the children never bickered (three of them were teenagers at the time) and even the dog seemed happier just to be going with us. Experience over material. That is what happiness is all about.