There are apparently a lot of basic questions being asked about money at Harvard these days. Scientists are being paid and put to the task. If we keep score by how many toys you can afford to buy, is making a lot of money really going to make you happy?
I’d guess that having money is kind of a “given,” a social norm, common to Harvard students. So I’m glad these basic questions are being asked at Harvard. They need it more than most.
One Harvard professor has focused on the question: “Does money make you mean?”
Another Harvard professor, putting a little more positive spin on it, has looked at the happy people and asked the question: “How does money buy you happiness?”
Their findings are, in short: Yes, money does have have a tendency (in as much as 40% of people) to turn you into a self-absorbed, selfish person who may be regarded as a jerk by other people. The most effective antidote is to spend a little bit of your money on other people. Keep being generous towards your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, or kids, but don’t forget the distant friend or even a complete stranger. The academics call this prosocial behavior. The whole world needs sweetening.
You can listen to one or both of these TED talks; the researcher’s findings are fascinating. I really mean it. You can also count on this as being true and proved by science: you will be happy, no matter how well-off or average you may be, if you make generosity a habit, a characteristic with which you interact with the world.
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Groove of the Day