Spending money on yourself to feel better doesn’t work. It’s official science.
The trick is to spend money on other people. That’s PROVEN scientifically to make you happier.
This is no kidding! It’s according to a study published last week in the journal Science (Science, March 21, 2008; vol 319: pp 1687-1688).
632 individuals were asked to rate their general happiness and report their income and spending, including bills, gifts for others, gifts for themselves, and charitable donations.
The happiest people were the biggest givers, no matter what they earned, while those who spent more on themselves did not feel any happier, really.
Another myth bites the dust. No doubt the concept of “retail therapy” has been fostered in the interests of Big Business.
There’s more. The study team asked 16 employees at a Boston company to rate their happiness one month before receiving a bonus from their company, and again six to eight weeks after getting the bonus. Those who gave more of their bonus money to other people or charities were happier after getting the bonus.
Big bonus, small bonus — that didn’t matter. It wasn’t about the size of the check; it was about how it was spent.
The team had a further bright idea: they gave participants some money with orders to spend it by 5.00 pm. Some were told to give it away and other told to spend it on themselves. The researchers gave $5 or $20 to 46 people on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus.
Once again, the givers were the happiest at the end of the day, according to surveys they completed before getting the cash and after spending it.
Yet when surveyed, people gave the obvious answers: they believed spending on themselves would make them feel better than spending on others and that the bigger the sum of money, the happier the response.
In fact intuitive thinking turned out wrong on both counts.
The amount of money did not matter at all. And giving your money away gives a better feeling outcome than spending it on yourself.
Maybe we should all turn to “charity therapy” (don’t try to Google that, I just made it up!)
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