I once heard a quote, “People that say that money can’t buy happiness must be going to the wrong shops.” Well, according to science, whoever said this was right – but, not for the reasons that they probably meant.
Winning the Lottery Won’t Make You Happy
We’ve all heard stories about people who win the lottery, only to find themselves broke and depressed within a few years. These stories are more common than you might imagine. In fact, according to this study lottery winners are not happier than the rest of us over the long term. They also tend to take less pleasure from the small things in life.
Hearing these stories, it’s easy to believe that the old saying “money can’t buy happiness,” really is true. But, is this really the case? Or are we just going to the wrong shops?
Here are a few ways that money really can make you happier, according to science.
Experiences Are the Best Expenses
Take a second to think about the times that you have been happiest in your life. Chances are your best memories are tied to important events in your life. Many of these memories are unique and “priceless,” such as your wedding or the birth of your son or daughter.
At the same time, you probably have plenty of memories of amazing trips that you took with your family. It’s no accident that experiences are among our most powerful memories. According to researchers from Cornell University, experiential purchases bring more lasting happiness than material purchases.
In other words, if you want to increase your happiness, invest in doing more rather than having more.
Investing in Your Health Will Pay Happiness Dividends
Over the last few years, I have spent thousands of hours researching ways to increase your health, happiness and wealth after 50. I have also talked with 100s of the happiest baby boomers on the planet. Do you know what all this research has taught me? The best way to improve every aspect of your life after 50 is to get in great shape.
Spending several hundred dollars a year on a gym membership may seem like a big investment. It is. But, it’s an investment that will pay you back 10 times over in the coming decades.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which give you a happiness boost. In addition, regular exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression.
So, before you go out and buy that flat screen TV, think about investing in your health instead. Get a new pair of running shows, join a gym or start a new sport. Whatever you do, DO something!
Use Your Money to Make the World a Better Place
You have every right to spend your money on yourself. You earned it with your blood, sweat and tears, after all. But, just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t mean that it will make you happier.
When it comes to spending your money, studies have shown that giving to charity is a great way to boost your positivity. Be careful though. Not all giving is created equal. According to this study, people tend to feel happier when they contribute to causes that promote positive social connections. For example, you will likely feel happier supporting a local charity that you volunteer for in person than a global organization that you have nothing to do with on a personal level.
Pay More for Your Passions
Life after 50 is a time for exploring your passions. While most baby boomers are still working, the fact that our kids have left the house gives us more time to explore our unique interests. As I wrote previously, finding your purpose in life can boost your happiness and may even help to protect your brain from injury.
Ironically, many people feel embarrassed investing in their passions. It seems socially acceptable to buy a new TV, but, spending the same amount of money on kite-surfing equipment, amazing gardening tools or a spectacular model train set feels strange.
Don’t give in to these feelings. If you love doing something, don’t be afraid to invest in it. When it comes to your happiness, the only person’s opinion that matters is your own.
What do you think are the best ways to invest your money to find lasting happiness after 50? Why? What passions are you personally investing in? Please join the conversation.
Here’s a short video that I recorded on the topic of finding happiness after 50.