Elizabeth Dunn: "Material Goods Often Fail To Deliver Lasting Happiness"
When faced with the question of how we'd spend a lump sum of unexpected cash, many of us immediately think of all the fancy material items we could buy for ourselves. A new car, a bigger house, a fancy rain shower head so we could suds-up in luxury. Turns out, as Dunn writes in The L.A. Times, "studies by a generation of behavioral scientists show that material goods often fail to deliver lasting happiness." In fact, she adds that "switching your spending to buying experiences—for both yourself and others—can lead to more happiness than even the most amazingly Amazonian rain shower." This can be as simple as treating a friend to a cup of coffee, Dunn says, because spending even a few dollars on someone else can be more fulfilling than spending a few hundred dollars on yourself. "So, diligently saving up for a down payment might not be such a good idea if it means skipping after-work beers with friends or your annual Valentine's Day celebration at a favorite restaurant," she writes. That's because Dunn found that renters weren't any less happy than homeowners, on average, according to a study of women in the United States.
Although some of her research may seem counter-intuitive to how most of us view money and spending, perhaps the most surprising finding is that "how we use our money may matter as much or more than how much of it we've got." That means you don't have to be a millionaire to reap the benefits of Happy Money. Or, if you do happen to be a millionaire, you can find just as much joy in the small purchases you share with others as the elaborate ones you make for yourself. In her writing and her widely applicable keynotes, Dunn cuts to the heart of two of our most widely sought after commodities: money and happiness. She shows us how the two can go hand-in-hand, and how individuals and corporations alike can turn their money into happy money.