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  • Can Money Buy Happiness? It Depends

    It’s well known that people who win the lottery aren’t necessarily happy, in fact many fall into depression when friends and family threaten them or try to control their life. Big winnings can come with big costs as greed of others hurts relationships.

    Research in psychology and economics has found that people do get happier as their income increases, but only up to a certain level where they are comfortable. One of the more recent studies on the subject, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year, found life satisfaction rises with higher incomes up to a household income of about $75,000, and levels off afterward.

    While so many people envy others with more money, studies show that being a giver makes people happier than being the recipient of a windfall. The specific way you spend money attributes more to happiness than keeping it for yourself. Gallop did a recent study that asked people in almost every country in the world if they were happier when they received money or when they gave it away and the answers consistently pointed to people expressing they were happier when their money benefited someone else. The amount of money people donated didn’t correlate with more happiness, but regularly using money to help others, even in small denominations made a significant difference in people’s level of happiness.

    DonorsChoose.org is a non-profit for mainly public school teachers in low-income schools. They post projects such as, “I want to teach Huckleberry Finn to my class and we don’t have the books,” or “I want a microscope to teach my students science and we don’t have a microscope.” Donors can but the materials for them from the site. The kids and the teacher will send you a thank you note and sometimes they send you pictures of them using the microscope. You can start thinking about “How can I spend money on myself?” and more about “If I’ve have ten dollars or 50 dollars, what can I do to benefit other people?” Because ultimately when you engage in more giving, you’ll find that you’ll benefit yourself. So it may be true that money can buy you happiness, depending upon how you spend it.

    Beth Kuhel, M.B.A., C.E.I.P., Executive Leadership and Career transition coach, writes about leadership strategies, career advancement and improving the workplace for Forbes, Huffington Post, Personal Branding blog and has been featured in Business Insider, Entrepreneur magazine, Tiny Pulse, U.S. News & World Report. Beth’s weekly career CJN career column was sponsored by Weatherhead School of Management.

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