How to Buy Happiness with your Money


People is busy looking for happiness. Economists said, happiness is the best indicator of a healthy society. And one of the classic debates is: can money buy happiness? Is prosperity immediately bringing wealth to the soul?

A recent study in psychological studies confirm that money can buy happiness. However, it really depend on what we buy as a medium of getting happiness.

Thomas Gilovich, professor of psychology at Cornell University, United States, examined the relation between money and happiness over the past 20 years. Last month he wrote in the Journal of Positive Psychology: "buy experience" rather than "buy things" will bring more lasting happiness.

After basic needs are met, even most people still have limited money. There, we are faced with a choice, such as buying the last iPhone model or watching a music concert.

A logical assumption for many people: because physical objects such as iPhone last longer than a one-two hour music concert, we tend to buy things assuming they bring longer happiness. That assumption is wrong.

"One of the main enemie of happiness is adaptation," Gilovich said. "We buy things to make ourselves happy. Right. But, it was only for a moment. New things make us excited at first, but then we adjust, adapt to them. "

Materials/objects soon become obsolete, and our happiness wears off. But, while the happiness of shopping for objects shrinks with time, the experience of watching the theater and exhibition of painting or adventure in nature become an integral part of our identity. Eternal becomes our inner wealth.

"Humans are the totality of life-long experiences and memories," Gilovich said. "We can like the things we have. We can even assume that some of our identities are bound to those objects, however, they remain separate from us. Conversely, experience and memories will be an integral part of ourselves. "

Even memories or bad experiences can be told later while laughing.

Gilovich's research does not only have implications for individuals who want to invest their money for happiness. But, also for companies that want to see their employees happy and productive; and for governors who want to make their citizens happy.

A city, for example, should not only resemble malls, markets, and car showrooms where people buy things. But, it also sets aside a budget for building parks, pedestrians, museums, art buildings, and caring for beaches and public forests that can be enjoyed cheaply or even for free.

Gilovich's research also has implications for the economy and industry. The new generation, or often called Gen-Y, is increasingly aware of the importance of spending money on tourism and adventure, on education and skills, on creative activities or even social activities that prioritize humanitarian interactions.

More than its predecessor, this new generation is also more aware about the danger of material consumerism that waste energy, trigger congestion, pand damage for environment. Industries that will survive are those who can anticipate this new trend.

However, the maximum happiness of individuals and society does not come from the search for happiness itself, but from meaning. What is the purpose of our life? What is our role in society, in the universe? How do we contribute more to nature conservation and social harmony?

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