Science Says That Money Does Buy Happiness, But Only If You Buy One Thing
Happiness is something that most, if not all, people try to achieve. But as all of us know, that is easier said than done. And there’s another saying that some people hold to heart while other dismiss almost immediately. And that saying is that: “Money can buy happiness.” Well, according to a new research, it turns out that both groups of people are right and wrong. For one, money, in and of itself, does not bring happiness over the long term, and neither do material things. What does bring happiness, according to this study, however, is buying free time.
Now, what does this mean, really? Well, free time comes in various shapes and sizes, and it can be affordable to a great spectrum of people, from many parts of society, let’s say. Free time isn’t just affordable for the upper classes, after all. In fact, out of the 818 millionaires who were asked about their spending habits, only half were spending their money in this way.
In all, the team of international researchers have surveyed 6,271 people from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Denmark, and found the same link between overall happiness and the acquisition of free time. These people surveyed were part of all classes of life, regardless of their level of income.
“People who hire a housecleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they’re being lazy,” says lead researcher Ashley Whillans from Harvard Business School. “But our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money.”
Those people part of this research were asked how they spent their money and whether they used it to buy themselves some free time and how much of it made up their income. They were also asked about their overall life satisfaction and how pressed for time they felt. Everyone who spent more on free time rather than material things reported a better satisfaction overall, as well as a better mood and less pressure.
“The benefits of buying time aren’t just for wealthy people,” says one of the team, Elizabeth Dunn from the University of British Columbia in Canada. “We thought the effects might only hold up for people with quite a bit of disposable income, but to our surprise, we found the same effects across the income spectrum.”
Sixty people from Vancouver were also asked to spend $40 in one weekend for time-saving things, and the other weekend to spend the same amount on material things. When asked about these two experiences, they all reported they felt better when they spent money on free time.
So, all in all, if you have the capability, try spending your money on things that will save you time, rather than a material thing. Instead of buying a lawnmower, let’s say, you’d probably feel better if you hire a gardener instead. Try it out for yourself and see if it works for you.