Can you buy happiness for five dollars?

The Beatles knew it:  Money can’t buy you love. And it also can’t buy you happiness.

We humans are a stubborn bunch – we think that more means better. But when it comes to money, research has proven just the opposite: after a certain baseline income (some studies say about $75,000 a year), more money doesn’t substantially improve your day-to-day happiness.  In fact, household income in the U.S. has gone up for the last 30 years while life satisfaction has decreased.

But money can buy you happiness: if you spend it on someone else.

Mike Norton, professor at Harvard Business School, a friend of Happier, and expert on the relationship between money and happiness (we interviewed him recently about his new book, co-authored with Elizabeth Dunn, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending,) has found that spending money on others makes us happier than spending it on ourselves.  He also found that buying experiences with our money makes us much happier than buying stuff. Inspired by his research, we came up with an idea:

Happier and Mike Norton want you to make someone happier for $5.  You get to pick who that someone is – friend, family member, co-worker, classmate, or complete stranger – and how to spend the $5.  Bring flowers or apples or a little pumpkin home from the farmers’ market for your spouse or roommate; buy the person behind you in line their cup of coffee; surprise someone at the office with a gratitude-card or a bar of chocolate.  We guarantee that taking money you would normally spend on yourself and spending it on someone else will make you much, much happier.

And here’s the fun part:

Take our  “Make Someone Happier With $5 Challenge” and then share a happy moment about it on or in our Happier App in the “five happier dollars” collection. Tell us what you did with your $5 and how it made the person you spent it on — and you — feel. Your happy moment may inspire others to make someone else happier and that’s a pretty cool thing. And, as a bonus, we’ll select 3 happy moments from this challenge at random and send you one of our awesome “Make Your Life Happier Kits” (no, we can’t tell you what’s in it, other than it will make you smile) and a signed copy of Mike Norton’s book.

We can’t wait to see all the awesome creative ways you use $5 to make someone happier!

2 thoughts on “Can you buy happiness for five dollars?

  1. Lady in front of me @ McD’s was short several $ to pay for her child’s Happy Meal. Paid for it plus her meal. Her hug & tears of gratitude were far more than my $5…..priceless! Loved it so much, I started carrying $5 in my pocket to continue the Happiness……

  2. Pingback: How Happiers are making people happier with just $5 (aka, you guys are making us cry) | Happier

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