In the last 15 years, researchers have been searching for what brings us lasting happiness and until recently, money was not top of the list. Agreed, a pay rise or winning the lottery does increase momentary happiness, but studies have shown that it doesn’t last, as we become used to the new level of financial freedom. It may even dip in the longer term as we search for more. Now some research is showing that money can buy happiness, but only if you use it wisely.
Following research that showed that spending money on other people, whether it is a charitable donation or buying a friend lunch, can lead to increased happiness, researchers have looked at how the way you spend your money affects your levels of positivity. Participants were given the choice of spending a small amount of money on either buying a ‘thing’, such as a new dress or household item (Having); on doing something alone, such as a massage or going to a concert (Doing); or sharing an experience with a friend or partner by going for dinner, or heading to a sports event with a friend (Sharing).
Surprisingly ‘Doing’ and ‘Having’ activities were equal in their ability to boost happiness levels, but this may be because the timescale for measuring happiness levels was short. Previous studies have shown experiences have longer positive effects on happiness levels. Far ahead of either the solitary activity or the purchase of something new, however, was sharing an experience with another person. This could be because it boosted the strength of the relationship with that person, and gives us more opportunity to reflect and reminisce over the event, added to the affect of spending money on another person mentioned earlier.
Next time you are thinking of going for lunch or heading to the pool, why not call a friend to join you?
Combine the pleasurable with the sociable side of life and increase your wellbeing at the same time.