The Happiest Christmas Gift

Sophie Tucker, one of the most popular entertainers in the first half of the twentieth century once said, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.”

While it is tempting to think that more money would improve your happiness level, it doesn’t appear to always be the case. Studies indicate that once your basic needs are met (it is harder to be cheery when you are hungry and without shelter) increas- ing income doesn’t have much effect on people’s level of happiness.

But before concluding that happiness can’t be bought, consider the findings of a study in which the researchers gave people money to spend (they had no problems finding subjects for this study).

The researchers found that spending money did cause a long-term spike in happiness, but only among those who were instructed to spend the money on someone else. Those who were instructed to spend it on themselves evidenced no such lift.

And it didn’t matter how much they were given to spend on someone else, the happiness return was the same. So money can buy happiness, depending on what you spend it on.

Try a happiness self-experiment this Christmas by setting aside $10 to spend on someone else. Give a small gift to a friend (or foe). Pay a stranger’s bus fare. Giving is a gift that will help you live more! 



Published in Signs of the Times 1 December 2015 Volume 130 No 12

Dr. Darren MortonPhD FASLM
Darren is an internationally regarded wellbeing educator, a sought after wellbeing speaker, and has been awarded a citation for making outstanding contributions to student learning in the Australian university sector. He is the author of approximately 50 publications in scientific and medical journals, and has written four books. Presently he is the Course Coordinator for Postgraduate Studies in Lifestyle Medicine at Avondale and is a Lead Researcher in the Lifestyle Research Centre where he supervises doctoral students as they conduct various wellbeing-related research projects.

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