Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton explain how the quality of our lives matter more than the quantity of things we have. In an article from the Los Angeles Times, How to buy happiness. Dunn and Norton start of by asking a simple question that has a million answers, what would you do if you found $1 million ? Everyone , at some point in their life, has wished for that amount of money. But out of all of us who would actually do something selfless and spend it on someone else? The first few items on our lists are something for ourselves. Its possible that our fifth item is for someone else. But even if you were selfless would those purchases create memories for a life time or would they be used for a few hours of pleasure ? Dunn and Norton even use most peoples first thought, to buy a house, as a bad example of spending your newfound wealth. They say that although “…most Americans continue to see as a central part of the American dream” buying a house isn’t “.. a sensible investment”. They’ve came to the conclusion, with the help of generations of research, that “how we use our money may matter as much or more than how much of it we’ve got”. Meaning that it doesn’t always matter how much money you have if you don’t have the proper way to spend it towards your happiness. Money can’t buy happiness.
in my opinion Dunn and Norton have the right idea about how money affects happiness. for example you could be the richest person in the world but if you don’t have anyone to share this lavish life with what’s the point of it all? Renting out Disney Land for the day sound like an ideal day but running around and riding all of the rides alone, is nowhere near as much fun as having your closest friends come along and enjoy the day that you can remember for the rest of your lives. As Dunn and Norton explain ” we tend to watch our new televisions alone on the couch, but we rarely head to a wonderful restaurant or jet off to Thailand solo.”
In the experiment that was conducted at a university campus they proved that even with the simplest of gestures, buying someone a cup of coffee, you are defiantly happier than enjoying a cup on your own. On many occasions I’ve brought someone a cup of coffee and hung out in Starbucks for hours just talking. And I’m absolutely sure I’m not the only one who has done so. When it comes to the example they gave , about buying a home, I don’t completely agree. Yes, buying a home may take some a life time but in the long run you have something your family members can also enjoy or even have to fall back on. I don’t agree that you have to pass on that drink after a long day or that nice dinner once in a while. You should be able to have everything with moderation. Compromising on your spending shouldn’t have to interfere with your overall happiness.
Although making changes to your list can be difficult, with the help of this article, the outcome can be even more pleasurable than your original list if you’re even just a little less selfish. Through research and experiments Dunn and Norton have made an appealing case that “.. you can make yourself happier today.” just by switching to buying experiences rather than material things that only benefit yourself.