Saturday, July 29, 2017

Stuff doesn't make you happy. HAHAHAHA!

I laugh because they had to do research in order to figure that out, when even half-baked and pretentious irreligious philosophers who blab, er, blog everyday have been saying that forever, channeling the wisdom from the old country!

I had to follow up on this 60-second science podcast at Scientific American.  I simply had to.
"One of the most common things people do with their money is get stuff," Norton tells Harvard Business Review. But research shows that "things" don't make you happy.
Instead, spend your hard earned cash on what Norton calls "prosocial" experiences — like a vacation or dinner with the family.
Seriously, how is this any different from the age old wisdom?
"When you ask people the secret to happiness, they talk about living with purpose or having close relationships," says Norton. And while money can get in the way of that — if you work all the time at a job you hate, for example — spending money on things that foster those goals actually does increase well-being.
Seriously, how is this any different from the age old wisdom?

There is one aspect of the research that deserves serious thought and discussions.  According to researchers--at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School--"using money to buy free time -- such as paying to delegate household chores like cleaning and cooking -- is linked to greater life satisfaction."
"People who hire a housecleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they're being lazy," said study lead author Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School who carried out the research as a PhD candidate in the UBC department of psychology. "But our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money."
"The benefits of buying time aren't just for wealthy people," said UBC psychology professor and the study's senior author Elizabeth Dunn. "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."
I suspect that this buying time contributes to one's happiness if that time were spent on "prosocial" experiences.  But, if that bought time were spent on, say, playing video games or mindless Facebooking, then I would think that the person comes out worse off.

There is another easy way to buy oneself time--simply cut the unnecessary waste of time.  Especially because of a fear of missing out, people increasingly seem to want to be engaged in a gazillion things and seemingly all at the same time.  Instead, if only people can be disciplined enough to simplify, simplify, and simplify; they would then have plenty of time to spend on "prosocial" experiences.

I would have told you all that for free without the "insights" from a HBS research, for which lots of money would have been spent.  But then, ahem, nobody listens to me! ;)


Ramesh said...

Much of the "research" in social sciences is like this. Flogging the blindingly obvious. Or else something so esoteric, incomprehensible and irrelevant that nobody wants to know anything about it and by default it becomes academically "weighty".

I wish to add the dimension of age to your very right exposition of the road to happiness.

For a baby its simply the parent and food that will make her happy.
For a child its probably more the joy of playing
For a teenager its probably freedom and sex
For the young adult its Ok to be happy with making money and accumulating things

Its as we grow older that purpose and relationships become (or should become) the focal point of life. The tragedy is that from the young adult stage, people tend to branch off all over the place. Some get stuck with the obsession for material wealth. Some crave for power. Some lust for fame. Many just drift.

But I am willing to bet, that at least on their death bed, everybody would long for having had meaning in their life and for outstanding relationships. Even Genghis Khan, the ultimate symbol of the lust for wealth and power, in his final years desperately sought meaning to his life.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes ... but, what I don't get is this: Why should people wait until they they get to their deathbeds in order to wonder about the meaning of their lives? It is bizarre, right?

And, of course, the very fact that we cannot take any damn thing with us when we die. So, what good is the stuff that we collect? Remember "You have only your memories with you when dying"?
All the more the reason to focus on experiences, and not on stuff ...

Most read this past month