To be happy... give
I left you hanging yesterday.
One Saturday each month, I throw a “monthly mingle”. This is where I have a bunch of friends over for food, drinks, and good conversation.
In the chaos of preparing for this month's mingle, I didn’t have enough time to write out an email to you.
So, to make up for it, I’m sending you two today.
In this one, I want to talk a little about the psychology of happiness, and why the best way to make yourself happier is by spending on others.
The researcher who’s done the most research on this topic is Mike Norton of Harvard Business School.
He’s shown, in experiment after experiment, that if you want to make yourself happier, you should look outside of yourself and treat others.
The standard experiment done to show this goes something like this:
Someone from Mike's lab recruits you for a study. They measure your happiness with a standard happiness questionnaire. Then, they give you five dollars and tell you to spend it on yourself. Later, after you buy yourself something like a Starbucks coffee, they once again poll your happiness.
Other people in the study are given the same five dollars, but are told to, instead, spend that money on someone else. Instead of buying themselves a coffee, they purchase a friend or a stranger some hot java (or donate the money to charity). Their mood is also collected before and after the intervention.
Once the data is collected and analyzed, it becomes clear that those who spent their money on *someone else* are much happier than those that spent the money on themselves.
By spending on others, not only are you making *yourself* happier... but you're making someone else happy, as well. It's the most effective way of spreading happiness through the world.
So this Memorial Day, make sure to treat someone to a meal or a cup of coffee—or throw a barbeque. Your happiness depends on it.