“Cocaine is God’s way of telling someone that they’re too rich.”
Robin Williams

Money makes the world go ’round, can’t buy me love and is the root of all evil. Can it make me happy though? Common wisdom says no, but people everywhere still want to find out first hand. Scientists are also professionally interested in this question but probably for different reasons. There have been studies that look at this from different perspectives, for example, whether the global increase in wealth, as measured through average wage, has been accompanied by an over all increase in happiness. Predictably the answer is no, other research has focused on what we do with our money and this has been more successful at providing positive (ie greater happiness) results.

One study has found that spending money on someone else provides greater satisfaction and therefore more happiness than spending on oneself. If that sounds too philanthropic for your tastes recent research has found the buying experiences rather than physical objects is also more likely to bump up the happiness quotient of your life. Both of the studies concluded that spending on “prosocial” activities was correlated with increased happiness. The argument being that experiences provide memories that we can look back on without growing bored with them as opposed to some object that we get tired of, also experiences with other people feeds our emotional need for social connectedness. In other words rather than get that new pair of jeans or DVD go out to dinner with friends or spend time at the beach  instead.

The point is money doesn’t make us happy but it does allow us to do the things that make us happy. It seems to be this general confusion between the ability of money to buy us things and the opportunity that money gives us to buy experiences, and spend time doing what we love with those we care about, that contributes to the view that money can’t but happiness. Money can buy happiness, you just have to spend wisely.