Wait, so money CAN buy you happiness?
There is little doubt that the relationship between money and happiness exists.
If there weren't, we’d be less likely to stay late at work, that’s if we go at all. While we are under the impression that having the dollar required to purchase statement pieces from Gucci’s new collections brings with it ample contentment, it turns out that happiness doesn’t quite work like that.
The connection between money and mood is a complicated one. You’d imagine hitting the Powerball jackpot and winning a boat-load of cash would make anyone happy, but it’s simply not true.
According to a survey of past lottery winners conducted by Ted-Ed, winning all that money did not make those lucky few any happier over the non-lottery winners over the same time. How can that be? While many people perceive money to be the answer to all their problems, the inverse is true.
Money makes people mean, it makes bad friends, and family members suddenly appear with a list of demands, and it often disappears quite quickly.
So how then do you pay your way into the VIP lounge of club happiness? The key is in paying for experiences, but not the positive ones like a bottle of suntan lotion and a one-way ticket on the Love Island Getaway Cruise. According to science (see below), money-bought happiness can only be found by using it to remove the most boring, tedious and joy-sucking chores that you are required to do on a daily basis.
In a new study, published in the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists found that time was the key to not being totally miserable all the time. According to researcher Professor Elizabeth Dunn, “although buying time can serve as a buffer against the time pressures of daily life, few people are doing it even when they can afford it”.
“Lots of research has shown that people benefit from buying their way into pleasant experiences, but our research suggests people should also consider buying their way out of unpleasant experiences.”
It’s easy for some, who have the disposable income to outsource their most tedious activities to others, but everyone else? It turns out, the benefits of additional time and less stress aren’t just for the wealthy. “We thought the effects might only hold up for people with quite a bit of disposable income, but to our surprise, we found the same effects across the income spectrum,” said Professor Dunn, of British Columbia University in Canada.
Researchers studied more than 6,200 people across the US, Canada, Denmark and The Netherlands, asking each how they felt, and how much of their income was spent on time-saving services like cleaners and gardeners. According to Professor Dunn, the results were rather conclusive: “Across samples, there was a significant interaction between time-saving purchases and
“Deconstructing this interaction, time stress was associated with lower life satisfaction among respondents who did not spend money on time-saving purchases. For respondents who spent money on time-saving services, the adverse effect of time pressure on life satisfaction was not significant.”
To further prove this point, scientists gave survey respondents in Vancouver AED 145 to spend over two weeks. In the first week, people had to spend the money on a material purchase, like a pair of new socks, or cinema tickets. Over the second week, they had to spend the money on a time-saving service, like a cleaner. It turned out that people were happier with the latter.
In conclusion, the study’s results suggest that buying time — your free time, to be exact — has the same benefits for happiness as having more money. So how much would you have to spend in a city like Dubai, to have every annoying chore handled for you? Not a huge amount.
You can hire a cleaner to handle things like laundry for as little as AED120 per week, and dry cleaning and gardening costs a little more than that. There are a variety of meal-replacement services that will do you three hot meals per day for AED150, and the work commute — a common time-sink — can be rectified by the likes of Uber and Careem (the average fair in Dubai is AED35 per trip).
That just leaves rent, bills, and perhaps a few unfactored living costs — like your daily Starbucks fix. So, while you might have to sacrifice your seasonal wardrobe, you’ll be a damn sight happier for it.
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