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Here and Now’s Robin Young sat down with three leaders in the field of Happynomics at Boston Museum of Science event, and they explored the topic.
Below are some of their big ideas on the interesection of money and happiness.
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“The idea that money makes you happy, that each dollar buys you a fixed amount of happiness, that everybody gets the same amount from every dollar is obviously wrong. But the idea that money is unrelated to happiness is also ridiculous. And all you have to do is go stand outside with no coat, no shoes, nowhere to go and hungry and in about five minutes you go ‘wow, money would make me happier’ and you’re right. So money is obviously related to happiness, but it’s relationship is intricate and complex.”
“It’s not so much how big your house is that governs how happy you are, it’s what your house is like in some relevant local economy.” And though Americans are spending more than they used to “the United States as a whole has not grown more happy.”
Norton conducted a study that found giving money away made people happier. When he and his colleagues gave subjects money and compelled them to spend it on someone else, that also made them happier.
“It turns out if you think of your everyday life it’s very hard to be nice and helpful to other people because it’s awkward. But if we make you be nice… people instantly forget it was part of an experiment and they really enjoy the experience.”