“A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so if one’s life is cold and bare he can blame none but himself.” -Louis L’Amour

It turns out that the conventional wisdom is wrong: it is possible to buy happiness — when you spend your money on others. Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard University have found that people who buy gifts for others and make charitable donations report being happier than people who spend their money primarily on themselves.

Here are the details of the study they conducted…

The scientists studied 630 Americans and asked them to rate their general happiness, their annual income, and their monthly spending — including bills, gifts for themselves, gifts for others, and charitable contributions. Researchers also measured the rates of happiness for people who received profit-sharing bonuses from their employers of $3,000–$8,000.

Again, the researchers found that it was not how much money the participants received that predicted happiness levels, but rather how the recipients spent the money. Those who donated more of their bonuses to charity or used it for gifts for others rated themselves as happier than those who did not.

In a third look at this phenomenon, the researchers gave participants a $5 or a $20 bill and asked them to spend it before 5 p.m. on the same day. Half were given the
instruction to spend the money on themselves, half to spend it on others. The half who spent their money on others reported feeling better at the end of the day than those who didn’t. And this was regardless of the amount.

The researchers say that even spending a small amount on someone during the day can significantly improve our feelings of happiness.

So I ask you,  — what will you do with this information?