Today’s Solutions: October 24, 2021

How does one spend money to maximize happiness? Buy a new coat? How about a tasty meal? While there is quite a large body of research that says people with more money are happier, a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business School has found that the way you spend money could be as important as how much of it you have. While a lifestyle of compassion leads to a greater rate of survival, practicing generosity leads to more happiness.
The study was conducted on a University campus where researchers gave participants either $5 or $20 to spend by the end of the day. Researchers then instructed ½ the participants to spend the money on themselves, referred to as personal spending, and the other ½ to spend the money on someone else, referred to as prosocial spending. At the end of the day after the money was spent researchers asked participants to gauge their happiness level.
Researchers found that those instructed to take part in prosocial spending were overwhelmingly happier than those instructed to spend the money on themselves. Furthermore, the amount of money spent, either personally or prosocially, had no impact in the participants level of happiness.
Those conducting the experiment then went back onto campus and described the experiment to other individuals, trying to see what situation people thought would yield a happier outcome. The result was people’s predictions were twice as wrong. Individuals guessed that spending more money on yourself would make anyone happier, while the reality is that spending any amount of money on someone else will make you happier than if you spend that money on yourself.
The experiment was initially conducted in North America where there is a higher standard of living than many parts of the world. Researchers thought that those in countries where basic needs are not always met might yield a lower correlation between giving and happiness. The study was expanded to include 136 countries and the money given to participants was adjusted for different variables and income levels.
Researchers discovered that in 120 of the 136 countries there was an overwhelming relationship between unselfish giving and one’s happiness. Finding this relationship between giving and happiness throughout the world could indicate that prosocial giving is an integral aspect of human nature.
So the next time you have an extra $20 maybe give it away to a charity, or someone in need instead of buying something for yourself. After all, it will make you happier and healthier.
For more info or to read the study visit hbs.edu
Need some help finding a charity to give to? Check out Charity Navigator.
Photo: Flickr/ epsos
Want more science that will make you happy? Find them in this free issue of The Intelligent Optimist.

Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

These seaweed-inspired sensors use underwater currents to power themselves

Ocean protection increasingly relies on the internet of things (IoT) to gather essential data with the help of a variety of marine distributed sensors underwater. Most of these devices, however, have always been highly dependent ... Read More

Doctors complete first successful pig to human kidney transplant

For the first time ever, doctors at NYU Langone Health in New York City have successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human. The primary function of this organ is to filter waste products and ... Read More

Vienna Tourist Board thwarts social media with unusual platform

The events of the past year or so have made us wonder: how much power should social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have over what we see, and what we are presented with? Due ... Read More

This sustainable pigment is made from sewage sludge

While it may be comforting to think that everything we send down the drain somehow magically disappears without leaving an ecological footprint behind, that is far from what actually happens. In reality, the process involves ... Read More

The Calm Line is Colombia’s anti-machismo hotline for men

Cultures that are deeply ingrained with the concept of machismo, or the belief that men must be dominant, often have issues surrounding abuse and violence against women. While there are many women-centered movements and support ... Read More

Benefits of the contraceptive pill include diabetes prevention

A study carried out at the University of Birmingham has found that contraceptive pills may offer more than just their primary role as birth control. It was found that for people with polycystic ovary syndrome ... Read More