Turns out money can buy a little happiness

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A few weeks ago, I found myself flying on a trapeze high above Manhattan, New York, United States. Why the hell was I there? Well I was trying to answer an old question. Does money buy happiness?

As you can see in the image below, I was petrified.

So what made me think the trapeze could help me determine if money can buy happiness?

It was something I learned while recording the last episode of my podcast, “Margins of Error“. I went to a few different sources to answer whether money can buy happiness.

First, I looked up my friend Clara, who grew up without a lot of money. “Money cannot buy happiness,” she told me, “but money can solve many of our problems and difficulties.”

I also analyzed a study 2010 from Princeton University that was once the final word on the matter, which indicated that money can help make you happier, but not beyond an income of $75,000.

Then came one study 2021 by Matthew Killingsworth, Senior Fellow at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Killingsworth collected real-time data over a seven-year period on tens of thousands of people across a wide range of incomes – from people earning the minimum wage to those earning more than $500,000. 2.3 million) per year. He asked people to rate their level of happiness on a continuous scale.

The steps Killingsworth took made his experiment different from previous ones, including the previous Princeton study. He found that everyday happiness levels increase when you earn more money. This may come as a surprise, as one study found that only one-fifth of Americans believe money can buy happiness.

Unlike the Princeton researchers, Killingsworth found that money correlated with happiness, regardless of their income levels.

“Every dollar buys a little less happiness,” he noted. “So if someone making $20,000 a year gets a 10% raise, someone making $200,000 gets a 10% raise, this data predicts that will provide the same increase in happiness.”

In other words, earning an extra $100 means more to someone earning $20,000 than earning $200,000 because it’s a larger percentage of that person’s income.

Also of note, there is a difference between day-to-day happiness and overall life satisfaction – the latter seeing a sharp increase when you cross the poverty line.

Killingsworth cautions against spending all your time trying to make more money. People who “defined their personal success in terms of money tended, on average, to be less happy,” he told me. “You want to have it, but you don’t want to care too much about it.”

How to get the most happiness out of what you already have

He took me to Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and director of science at Happy Money, a fintech company that helps people acquire personal loans.

I wanted her to help me figure out how we can get the most happiness out of the money we’re already making, so we can be a little less obsessed with making more. Your first piece of advice is why I decided to do the trapeze. she told me that we should buy experiences instead of objects .

Elizabeth’s research indicates that “experiences often connect us with other people we care about . So if you’re traveling or going out for a special meal, it won’t usually be alone and… it will enrich your relationships.”

Perhaps most instrumental in why I did the trapeze, Elizabeth noted that “experiences seem to be more deeply connected to our sense of self.” When people look back at their spending on experiences, “they tend to feel that this is really more about who they are.”

Buy a experience instead of an object took me to a greater level of happiness? Yes, it really did, although I hate heights.

I watched my video on the trapeze several times. I shared this clip with some of my friends and told the story of flying through the air to many.

It really is a gift that keeps on being given. I didn’t just buy an experience, I bought a story I could share again and again. I think the trapeze experience got better the further I got away from it. There’s a real sense of nostalgia there, even though it was just a few weeks ago.

So how can you get the most happiness out of the money you already earn other than just buying experience? Elizabeth has several other tips, but you’ll have to tune in to the podcast to hear them.



Source: CNN Brasil

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