If one day they gave you 5 or 20 dollars and told you that you can spend it on yourself or on someone else, what would you do?
I’m sure most of us would think about spending it on ourselves. This is because we believe it will make us happier, much happier than spending it on someone else.
Well: that’s not the case. Our intuitions are deeply wrong.
It makes us happier to spend money on others than on ourselves.
Moreover, and this also goes against our intuitions, it doesn’t matter how much money we spend on others, whether 5 or 20 dollars. Because the effect on our happiness is equivalent.
This is what has been shown by a study conducted by socio-psychologist and professor Elizabeth Dunn, who talks about it in her book “Happy money – The science of smarter spending“: a group of people were given $5 on the street and they were asked to spend it on themselves; another group of people were asked to spend it on others. And the same was done with a higher sum, $20. Then, people were contacted during the day and asked to rate their happiness status. Well, those who had spent on others were always happier than those who had spent on themselves, regardless of the amount.
The study was also replicated by Atkin et al. in different cultures: what emerged is that the above results are the same both in rich areas such as the US / Canada and in poor countries such as Uganda.
Spending on others increases our happiness regardless of culture and income level.
So friends: let’s all become a little more generous if we want to be happier.