Can money really buy you happiness

According to university-based research, money can buy you happiness — if you spend it on the “right” things like doing things rather than buying stuff. Experiences – like holidays or dining out – make you happy, a recently published book claims, not possessions. This is the number one rule on how to spend your money outlined in it.

 

But then, who’s to say what may, or may not, buy you happiness? People are different. Everyone’s going to have different things that work best for them. For some, it may be doing stuff, for others buying it.

Whilst it’s true that, for the wives of dictators, happiness may constitute (yet another) Dior handbag, Chanel outfit or Chopard baubles worth almost as much as the country’s GDP, for others it might be the purchase of a Hasselblad camera. Or a set of Sabatier chef’s knives.

And that’s fine. As far as possessions are concerned, these should be valued for what they provide, not as status symbols (and I can’t help thinking here of those pictures of Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis hired for their Prom night recently by status-conscious inner-London teenagers).

A camera isn’t just a camera for its own sake but for the photos it takes that remind the owner of good times past. Expensive chef’s knives are desirable because they enable the owner to work effectively and produce more memorable meals, not because they’re nice bits of gleaming metal. The purchase of these kinds of ‘things’ – cameras, chef’s knives – will for ever be linked to the memories they evoke. After all, what’s the point of possessions if they don’t help you get more out of life. Surely anything else is pointless.

Finally though, doesn’t it all come down to a sense of moderation and basic common sense? Yes, the odd possession’s nice. But so too are all the experiences that are totally free: reading, family, a walk on a Spanish beach at sunset.

And, while I’m on the subject, does “how to spend money” really qualify as a ‘science’ – with people getting paid to study it? Then again, I’m constantly amazed just how many academics there are all over the globe studying “the bleeding obvious”. Supported, it goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – with taxpayers’ money.

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Retribution’,Soul Stealer’,‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.77) and iBookstore.Profits to Cudeca   

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