I had to follow up on this 60-second science podcast at Scientific American. I simply had to.
"One of the most common things people do with their money is get stuff," Norton tells Harvard Business Review. But research shows that "things" don't make you happy.Seriously, how is this any different from the age old wisdom?
Instead, spend your hard earned cash on what Norton calls "prosocial" experiences — like a vacation or dinner with the family.
"When you ask people the secret to happiness, they talk about living with purpose or having close relationships," says Norton. And while money can get in the way of that — if you work all the time at a job you hate, for example — spending money on things that foster those goals actually does increase well-being.Seriously, how is this any different from the age old wisdom?
There is one aspect of the research that deserves serious thought and discussions. According to researchers--at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School--"using money to buy free time -- such as paying to delegate household chores like cleaning and cooking -- is linked to greater life satisfaction."
"People who hire a housecleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they're being lazy," said study lead author Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School who carried out the research as a PhD candidate in the UBC department of psychology. "But our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money."I suspect that this buying time contributes to one's happiness if that time were spent on "prosocial" experiences. But, if that bought time were spent on, say, playing video games or mindless Facebooking, then I would think that the person comes out worse off.
"The benefits of buying time aren't just for wealthy people," said UBC psychology professor and the study's senior author Elizabeth Dunn. "We thought the effects might only hold up for people with quite a bit of disposable income, but to our surprise, we found the same effects across the income spectrum."
There is another easy way to buy oneself time--simply cut the unnecessary waste of time. Especially because of a fear of missing out, people increasingly seem to want to be engaged in a gazillion things and seemingly all at the same time. Instead, if only people can be disciplined enough to simplify, simplify, and simplify; they would then have plenty of time to spend on "prosocial" experiences.
I would have told you all that for free without the "insights" from a HBS research, for which lots of money would have been spent. But then, ahem, nobody listens to me! ;)