Day 14: What I learned from watching Michael Norton’s ted talk “How to buy happiness”

Money can buy you happiness.  Did you just cringe when you read that or perhaps you nodded your head profusely? Either way  chances are that you would have heard that saying  many times over the years.   Day 14 of my 365 Day of Ted Talks challenge is all about the connection between money and happiness and I discuss Michael Norton’s Tedx presentation “Money can buy happiness.”

Day 14 key to happiness

Can money buy me happiness?

Michael Norton has a message to share and that is that yes, money can buy you happiness, that is of course,   if you spend it the right way. What’s the right way? Well, Michael says that spending your money on other people will in return buy you happiness.  The presentation references an experiment run at the that University of British Columbia  that involved giving a group of participants an envelope with a small amount of money. Half the group were told that they needed to spend the money on themselves and the other half were told to spend the money on someone else. The study found that the group who were told to spend the money on other people were more satisfied and happy with their outcome.  It’s not that the group who spent money on themselves were unhappy, they were just generally unchanged by the experience. I guess that make’s sense. We have all spent money on ourselves before, it’s nothing new.

The study was also replicated in Uganda to see if conducting a test in a less wealthy country would change the outcome. The researchers found that the group who spent money on others were happier as a result.

Is there such a thing as a selfless act?

This whole presentation reminded me of an episode of the TV show Friends when Phoebe and Joey were caught up in a debate over whether or not there is such a thing as a selfless act. Joey maintained that there was no such thing as a selfless act as the person doing the good deed ends up feeling good about themselves so they get an emotional benefit .  Phoebe argued that it is indeed possible to to do a selfless act and get nothing in return.

Personally I think that every action that we do has an emotional response attached to it, so if the emotional payback of doing a good deed is that we end up feel good about ourselves then I for one would  gladly take that payback.


Today’s action step 

Today’s action step is to really reinforce the challenge I set myself on day three after watching Paul Piff’s Ted talk “Does money make you mean” which was to use Website Confetti  as a platform to make a positive change.  On day three  I challenged my readers to donate 1 hour of their pay to a charity this each month and on subsequent months.  On the 1st of every month I will be highlighting another charity that I will be donating to that month and If I end up buying myself some happiness in the process… well it sure beats buyers remorse!

If you haven’t already done so check out Michael Norton’s Ted talk above. Do you think money can buy you happiness? Please let me know what you think in the comments below.