|Image via meandmybentley.|
I've been in my car more than usual lately and had a chance to catch up on some new TED talks over the weekend (if you aren't familiar with TED, check out my previous post here). One in particular really moved me and I wanted to share it with you. It's title: "How To Buy Happiness." Now, I'll come clean and say up front that the following crosses my mind at least a couple times a week: "If only I had the money, I would _______(fill in the blank). That blank covers a wide spectrum - from a new pair of Louboutin heels to a Kenyan safari; an elite preschool for my daughter to a large arrangement of orchids or beachfront property. Whether its travel to fantastic and far-off places or the newest offerings from the Parisian couturiers, I've looked at them longingly at one point or another and consciously or unconsciously thought they would bring me some degree of happiness. Has this every happened to you?
Enter Michael Norton's simple premise: Money can in fact buy happiness, BUT only if you are spending it the right way - on others and not on yourself. Through several different social experiments around the world (they collected data from places as diverse as Canada and Uganda), he and his colleagues discovered that people were in fact happier if they spent money on other people. This could mean buying a stranger a cup of coffee or giving a colleague flowers. They also discovered that people who gave money to charity were happier than those who didn't. I was raised by two parents who donated to just about every charity that happened to get our home number and because of that I try to give to a few charities each year that are close to my heart. However, Norton's talk was a great reminder for me to think less about ways to spend money on myself, and more about how to spend money to help someone else.
Thankfully through this talk, I also discovered Donorschoose.org, a non-profit designed to let you choose from thousands of low-income schools all over the country who have specific education needs. With everything from a microscope to a butterfly nursery, it gives donors the opportunity to connect with a class and donate whatever they can ($5 would be great!). The teacher sends you a thank you, the students send you a thank you and you may even receive photos of the students using whatever supplies you helped fund! With a quick search, I found my elementary school on the site as well as 100's of schools in the L.A. area near our home. Donating to several classrooms did in fact make me feel great and brought me the type of joy that can't be found in a store. Happy hump day everyone!