I grew up in a poor family. We were five children, my mom left home early in the morning and my dad was the town postman and when he finished his first job, he worked a second job as a handyman. “Money cannot buy happiness” was my parents’ motto.
Only later on, when I started making a lot of money as student, I realized that poor people come up with these beliefs about money to justify their lack of money and they disconnect money and happiness to give their life a better meaning. What my parents really meant was that we could be happy in many ways and money was not a condition to happiness. I agree with that.
Money brings an enormous feeling of happiness if you use it to … give.
Research claims: money can buy happiness
Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School checked the connection between spending money and happiness and they found out amazing things that are important for all happiness seekers to know.
In one experiment, they gave students $5 or $20 and asked half of them to spend it on themselves and the other half to spend it on others. One group was taking the money and enjoying it, while the other was giving it to someone else to enjoy.
What they found was that the “givers” were significantly happier at the end of the day. So money can buy you happiness if you use it to make someone else happy.
Elizabeth Dunn, an assistant professor of psychology at UBC, said that they found literature claiming that random acts of kindness, volunteering and helping others are great contributors to happiness.
In another research, conducted by Dunn’s Master students, Lara Aknin and Michael Norton of Harvard, 632 Americans were asked to rate their general happiness, to report their income and to estimate how much they spent in a typical month on bills and expenses, gifts for themselves, gifts for others and donations. The researchers found that people who spent more money on others were happier.
In another research, people at a firm reported their happiness level before and after receiving a bonus of $3,000 to $5,000 and how they used their bonus money. Again, those who used the bonus to give (in the form of gifts) were happier than those who only bought things for themselves.
So, money, much like time, can give you great happiness if you use it to give. By giving others, we receive a great sense of contribution, connection and fulfilment. That is the reason that fundraisers, charities and volunteering take away something from people and they still contribute.
Money is a piece of paper, which you can do magic with, if you learn to give.
We have decided, as a family, to give money to people though a global micro financing organisation called Kiva. We chose this option, because we believe in empowering people to help themselves, and we find it very uplifting. Over the years, we have made a difference to the lives of over 140 families around the world, who can now sustain themselves and live a productive life.
Every time we give, we remind ourselves how fortunate we are, we increase our sense of kindness, and these things make us happy.
So money can buy happiness if you use it to give others.
Give and you shall receive!