Boyce, Daly, Hounkpatin, and Wood published on this subject in the April 2017 issue of Psychological Science. While the focus of their contribution was on clarifying previous research on spending and personality, their discussion included insights from multiple studies. Here are ten insights I gleaned from their article:
- There is a weak relationship between happiness and money.
- A possible reason for the weak relationship is “because people do not spend their money wisely” (p. 544).
- Money spent on experiences is more likely to increase happiness than money spent on possessions.
- Money spent on other people is more likely to increase happiness than money spent on one’s self.
- “Materialism is associated with less happiness” (p. 545).
- “Attempting to spend one’s way to happiness would ‘buy’ so little well-being as to be largely irrelevant to people’s lives” (p. 545).
- Situations where money affects well-being: poverty, indebtedness, losing income.
- Strong predictors of happiness: relationships, stable employment, mental and physical health
- People who tend to be moody and have negative feelings (neuroticism) tend to be less happy.
- People who tend to be outgoing (extraversion) tend to be happier.
1. Research on what makes us happy is important. Experiences over possessions. Relationships. Spending on others.
2. The “pursuit of happiness” is a marvelous phrase. Who “pursues” happiness? Who just lets life unfold? There is an intentionality inherent to this phrase. How we pursue happiness may change. We may find moments of wonder, joy, and yes happiness, even in dire circumstances.
3. How does this affect us in the workplace? I suggest two types of happiness. One is trait-happiness. Some people just tend to be happier. The other is state-happiness, the joy that is more temporary and situation-specific. As leaders and colleagues, we can affect state-happiness by how we interact with each other and support each other. Do not forget to celebrate small victories that are meaningful shared experiences.
Boyce, C. J., Daly, M., Hounkpatin, H. O., Wood, A. M. (2017). Money may buy happiness, but often so little that it doesn’t matter. Psychological Science, 28(4), 544-546.
My image, "Confederation Bridge at Sunset."
Modified from my blog, 12/28/2017. © John Ballard, PhD, 2017. All rights reserved.
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