Can Money Buy Happiness? Yes, Through Giving.

Quoted from the Guardian (UK):
When Markus Persson, creator of Minecraft, sold his gaming company to Microsoft for £2.5bn in 2014, it didn’t give him the huge happiness boost you might expect, as his tweet from August 2015 showed: “Hanging out in Ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I’ve never felt more isolated.”


Many people think having lots of money will lead to more happiness. A national study across all incomes asked what people thought would bring them happiness. Participants predicted spending money on themselves would make them happier than spending on others.


They were wrong.


Additional income only increases measure of happiness up until $75,000 in total household income, according to a 2010 Princeton study. After that, it has no significant impact. And no additional spending on yourself increases happiness. But there’s one clear thing that does enable more happiness with your money: giving.


Giving creates more happiness than getting.


And there are many studies that reflect this. What gives? (pun intended). According to one study conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia, participants found significantly more happiness in “prosocial spending” (i.e. giving to charity or buying for someone else) than “personal spending” (i.e. bills, expenses, rent/mortgages, AND buying something for themselves).


Why is this? There are many potential sources to point to. Perhaps we can look to the wisdom of those in the past: Jesus of Nazareth said it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Life’s persistent and most urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” and even Nietzsche proclaimed “He who cannot give anything away cannot feel anything either.” And at the most basic psychological level, according to an article in Science magazine, giving to others actually produces a neural reward.


The fact is, we’re wired to create connections with others, money included.


Regardless of why we believe giving causes happiness, in this time where chronic stress and depression seem to be rising incorporating charitable giving into one’s life seems important for your personal wellbeing. And, according to a study mentioned above increasing charitable giving by just $5 can increase happiness in a meaningful way.


Yes, money can buy you happiness if you spend it on others and the causes you care about. Charityvest wants to help you do that.


Yours in making giving more,


Melissa Auth
Charityvest Team
MBA Candidate, Yale School of Management