Buying Happiness

Thanks to my thought-provoking Masters program, every week I’m assigned lots of reading and (new to me!) “watching” Ted Talks and Youtube videos. Ted Talks specifically aren’t new to me, love those videos, but the thought of videos, versus reading in textbooks, is new to me and I don’t know how to feel about it. I’ll save that for another post.

One of the talks I watched a couple of weeks ago is by Michael Norton, on “How to Buy Happiness” – watch it here.

The key takeaway is that if you think money can’t buy happiness, it’s because you’re not spending it right. Michael references lottery winners and how coming into such a fortune tends to ruins their lives as opposed to the overwhelming happiness they thought they’d be able to have, or buy, with the money. Having more money in general tends to make us more selfish and, in turn, not as happy as we hoped we’d be. This truth leads to Michael’s hypothesis that if we spent the money on someone/something else, we’d actually be happier after spending.

Instead of being anti-social with your money, be pro-social. 

Michael conducted a study which assessed people and how they spend. Some were directed to spend money on themselves and some to spend it someone else.


Michael and his team found that those who spent the money on other people got happier, and those who spent the money on themselves were not any less happy but somewhat unchanged. It turns out that around the world, giving/donating money makes us happier than keep it to ourselves.

In a similar video regarding the same topic, I was introduced to, “an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. ”

So I decided last month, that once a month I would donate to a teacher/classroom in need through I’m generally happy, really, but I work and work and work and it’s like…

WHAT am I doing with my money??!?! It makes me happier knowing that at least 10 dollars a month is going to a good cause.

My first donation was to Mrs. Toomey, an English teach in a high poverty school district in Illinois. Look at the books and the kids I helped make just a littler happier with my money!

How will you put your money to good use?



And I mean… this might be a generic letter, but doesn’t this make your insides warm?

Dear Alex,

The books arrived yesterday and we could hardly contain ourselves! Everyone wanted to know what was in the extra heavy box I was carrying. I let them guess and then we opened it. Squeals of delighted followed by, “I want to read one.” We looked at all of the titles and placed them oh so carefully on a special book rack/ display that has been empty waiting for their arrival….

Thank you again from the bottom of all our hearts.

With gratitude,
Mrs. Toomey

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