After having read a book on happiness (The Geography of Bliss) recently for book club, it was interesting to read this interview in the NY Times: The Smiling Professor.
Excerpt of three questions from the interview:
"Q. AS THE AUTHOR OF A BEST SELLER ABOUT HAPPINESS, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE ON HOW PEOPLE CAN ACHIEVE IT?
A. I’m not Dr. Phil.
We know that the best predictor of human happiness is human relationships and the amount of time that people spend with family and friends.
We know that it’s significantly more important than money and somewhat more important than health. That’s what the data shows. The interesting thing is that people will sacrifice social relationships to get other things that won’t make them as happy — money. That’s what I mean when I say people should do “wise shopping” for happiness.
Another thing we know from studies is that people tend to take more pleasure in experiences than in things. So if you have “x” amount of dollars to spend on a vacation or a good meal or movies, it will get you more happiness than a durable good or an object. One reason for this is that experiences tend to be shared with other people and objects usually aren’t.
Q. HAVE YOU JUST EXPRESSED A VERY ANTI-AMERICAN IDEA?
A. Oh, you can spend lots of money on experiences. People think a car will last and that’s why it will bring you happiness. But it doesn’t. It gets old and decays. But experiences don’t. You’ll “always have Paris” — and that’s exactly what Bogart meant when he said it to Ingrid Bergman. But will you always have a washing machine? No.
Today, I’m going to Dallas to meet my wife and I’m flying first class, which is ridiculously expensive. But the experience will be far more delightful than a new suit. Another way I follow what I’ve learned from data is that I don’t chase dollars now that I have enough of them, because I know that it will take a very large amount of money to increase my happiness by a small amount.
You couldn’t pay me $100,000 to miss a play date with my granddaughters.
And that’s not because I’m rich. That’s because I know that a hundred grand won’t make me as happy as nurturing my relationship with my granddaughters will.
Q. SO YOU HOLD WITH THE NOTION THAT “MONEY CAN’T BUY YOU HAPPINESS”?
A. I wouldn’t say that. The data says that with the poor, a little money can buy a lot of happiness. If you’re rich, a lot of money can buy you a little more happiness. But in both cases, money does it."