Is it possible to buy happiness?
It’s an interesting question.
The first thought for us might be that we can’t buy happiness. After all, there is a cliche saying that says you can’t. And cliches often exist because there is some kind of truth to them…
But more research is coming out that shows that you can buy happiness.
But there is something very important to realize when you do look to buy it…
Buying Shared Experiences
The research is finding that the key to buying happiness is to spend money on shared experiences.
The studies tested the effects of buying material things vs. solitary experiences vs. shared experiences.
I was a little surprised about the solitary experiences. I’d be curious about how those played out for introverts, but I’m not surprised that shared experiences was the big winner. In fact, it looks like it came out way ahead of the other two.
So that’s the entire key with buying happiness in life. Look for experiences you can share with others, but there is one big key…
Mutually Enjoyable Experiences
Not all shared experiences are enjoyable.
You have to be aware of what the other person or persons are interested in doing. If it’s a large group you likely can’t please everybody, but it’s important to know what others are interested in.
A common mistake with shared experiences often occurs with family.
Take a parent that enjoys an experience. They often take their kids to share in the experience. Sometimes the kid may enjoy it, but often they don’t. That can backfire in terms of happiness.
We often think that family and friends owe us their time. They should be the ones that partake in our favorite experiences.
Flip that thinking on its head. Be the one to learn what the other person likes and find common ground. Create Venn Diagrams (maybe just in your mind) where one circle is what the other person likes and the other is what you like. Where they meet are experiences you can share.
And that can lead to happiness.
Buying Shared Experiences For Employees
I know a business owner for a small company. He had always had a holiday office party at a local tavern. It was something the employees looked forward to every year.
Then one year I remember he said that he offered the employees an option. 1) Continue having the party or 2) get a cash bonus equivalent.
The owner said the overwhelming response was to keep the party.
That caught me off guard, but for some reason I’ve remembered it. I guess I know why it has stuck. It’s important.
It caught me off guard, but that was the first time I must have realized the importance of shared experiences. The employees looked forward to the party every year. The party brought them happiness. They knew that money could allow them to buy material things, but maybe without even realizing it they knew that they couldn’t spend it any better than on the party.
As a business leader, look for shared experiences you can buy for your family, friends and employees. But don’t think that your preferred experiences are shared with others. Do the Venn Diagram practice. Look for things that others care about that you also care about.
There is a little more work when it comes to your team. It might take some trial and error. Bowling one time. Renting a pontoon the next. An office party at a tavern the next.
The key thought is that you can buy happiness. Even for your team at the office. The thing they’ll remember the most because it makes them happy is spending time with others.