Money and Happiness
I came across If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t
a paper by Dunn, Gilbert, and Wilson and I found it very interesting.
You can download it from Science
Direct, if you want.
The main message is that people are not happy because they do not know
what makes them happy.
Some of the ways in which money or, better, decisions can make us
- Focus on experiences instead of things, because we remember
experiences and relive them over and over again. By contrast, we
tend to adapt fast to things, which lose their perceived value fast.
(One countermeasure is transforming “things” into “experiences”).
- Help others instead of yourself, because we are social animals.
Helping others helps us being more social and increases
- Buy small pleasures instead of big ones, because we adapt fast
to our environment and we forget the value coming from what we have.
For this reason putting some temporal discontinuity between positive
experiences increases the payoff we get: eat a cookie, wait a while,
- Worry less about the future, since we adapt to bad situations
better than we believe.
- Delay pleasurable experiences, so that we have more time to
think about the positive experiences we will have.
- Happiness is often in the details. A small treat now is better
than a big treat in the future.
- Think about what you are not thinking, when evaluating
possible choices. When we evaluate our future, we tend to focus on
the positive aspects and forget little details and
negative consequences. This bias can lead us to take the wrong
decision or remain disappointed when we the future ends up being
less rewarding than anticipated.
- Beware of comparison shopping, since in this case we tend to
focus on measurable features, rather than on the aspects which make
the stuff we buy rewarding. As a reinforcement: as soon as we start
experiencing what we have, we forget thinking about what we could
- Follow the herd instead of your head. Our experiences are
similar to those of other people. If other people liked it, we are
also most likely to enjoy the same stuff.
Some things we do not always know about ourselves:
- We are extremely adaptable to good and bad situations.
- We are very good are interpreting the past so that we don’t feel
regret (“I did not win the medal, but it wasn’t my fault and I have
- When we think about the future, we have a cognitive bias which makes