I’ve always believed that money doesn’t buy happiness but, in a small way, the authors of an article from three prominent US universities have changed my view.

The article If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right, states that:

Money buys happiness, but it buys less than most people think … After all, money allows people to do what they please, so shouldn’t they be pleased when they spend it? Why doesn’t a whole lot more money make us a whole lot more happy? … If money can buy happiness, then why doesn’t it? Because people don’t spend it right.

Essentially, to be happy buy experiences rather than things. Why is that the case?

The authors tell us that:

Experiences are good; but why are they better than things? One reason is that we adapt to things so quickly. After devoting days to selecting the perfect hardwood floor to install in a new condo, homebuyers find their once beloved Brazilian cherry floors quickly become nothing more than the unnoticed ground beneath their feet. In contrast, their memory of seeing a baby cheetah at dawn on an African safari continues to provide delight.

Too true. Our new plasma flat-screen TV is just another item in the home and I hardly notice our new Apple MacBook Pro.

I do fondly recall snorkelling on our family holiday on Redang island though, the turtles lying on the sand below me, the colourful fish slipping in and around me.

But there are experiences which have nothing to do with money. Experiences that do make me feel really good. For example, when I lent my mobile phone to a woman who forgot hers and had to make an urgent call home.

A toddler once fell off his stool as I was walking past and, instinctively, I caught his head before it slammed on the ground. His mother said “Thank you” and, although it was years ago, it was the grateful look in her eyes that today brings me such brilliant contentment.

This distinct memory is far better than any snorkelling experience or any African safari holiday!

So to me, money doesn’t buy happiness quite as much as the simple memory of just helping a fellow human being.

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