A look at what – and who – is pushing the future in new directions

Posts Tagged ‘Buying Happiness’

Money Can’t Buy Me Happiness

The Beatles - Can't Buy Me LoveWhen Paul McCartney penned “Can’t Buy Me Love” in early 1964, he touched on a topic that scientists continue to discuss more than 40 years later. It was not a new idea; hundreds of years ago, Beast learned the hard way that all the money in the realm can’t convince a beautiful belle that she loves you.

In much the same way that money cannot buy love, it seems to fail in purchasing happiness. In a recent article for Scientific American, entitled “Can Money Buy Happiness?” Sonja Lyubomirsky discussed the mounting evidence that money actually prevents us from feeling happy. She notes that, once we can pay for more than simple pleasures, we often find ourselves looking for the next high.

This may explain the growing pile of books in my “to-read” list, currently gathering dust on the floor. Books I was thrilled to find for sale at Magers & Quinn or Booksmart quickly lose their intrigue and sift to the bottom of the pile under new books that I just had to purchase.

When going to the library was thrilling, I usually tried to read what I was bringing home before going back for more. Still, for the record, I do plan to read all those books …

Like higher and lower pleasures in Mills, once we’ve tasted new books, it’s hard to be as happy with those new books when they’re old. Once you’ve had Surly, it’s hard to enjoy a Miller Lite.

As Lyubomirsky points out, “having money raises our aspirations about the happiness that we expect in our daily lives … Unfortunately, raised aspirations don’t only lead us to take things for granted and impair our savoring abilities. They steer us to consume too much, tax the planet’s resources, overspend and undersave, go into debt, gamble, live beyond our means, and purchase mortgages that we can’t afford.”

In short, spending becomes a high that we just can’t get enough of. Consumption becomes the joy, not the actual product.

So what makes us happy?

That’s exactly what documentary filmmaker Roko Belic has spent the last four years or so trying to determine. “Happy – The Documentary” should be coming out soon, but as a non-profit project, can always use help from generous investors. You can donate to the cause on the project’s website, or simply enjoy the trailer.