What If Money Actually Can Buy Happiness?
Michael Norton holds a Ph.D. in psychology and puts his training to work while teaching at the Harvard Business School. In this fascinating TEDTalk, he shares with us a variety of experiments that convinced him and his team that you can, in fact, buy happiness. But only when spending your money on others!
What I found rather astounding about this was not, actually, Michael’s conclusion. I’ve experienced that before and so, I bet, have you: the great feeling that comes from buying someone a gift, however small, or making a donation to an organization that will make a difference in someone’s life. When my kids and I contribute to Kiva, for instance, and select a recipient and project to support, it feels really good.
So this isn’t what surprised me. What surprised me is that it takes a psychologist teaching business to demonstrate this! I mean, goodness, but don’t we have a story in the Church that teaches this as well. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.” And more….
This is out story…and it turns out it’s true! We knew this, of course, but it’s kind of like we never really believed it. Why? Because it is not the dominant story of the age. We are surrounded by an alternative story, the dominant story, the insists that the path to happiness comes from buying things, getting things, having things for ourselves.
Does that sounds a little harsh? Watch some commercials. Seriously.
So part of the task and challenge for those who care about congregational life, I think, is to tell our story, to build a community of people to remind each other that when we give we receive…life, happiness, a sense of fulfillment and abundance…well beyond anything we could possibly buy.
So watch Michael’s talk and let me know what you think: about money and happiness, about giving, and about creating communities of gratitude, generosity, and abundance.
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