Friday, March 21, 2008

Greed makes us unhappy

Scientists have proved that such acts of philanthropy can be a short-cut to achieving happiness. Psychologists found how people spend their money is at least as important as how much of it they earn in the first place. The greatest joys of all, they discovered, can be attained by giving money away, either to someone they know or to charity.

The pursuit of happiness is seen as a fundamental human right and it is often linked with wealth, yet studies have shown that the richest countries do not always have the happiest people. Provided there is enough money for basic needs, there appears to be little evidence to suggest that greater wealth makes people any happier.

Professor Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver said :-

"Indeed, although real incomes have surged dramatically in recent decades, happiness levels have remained largely flat within developed countries across time. One of the most intriguing explanations for this counter-intuitive finding is that people often pour their increased wealth into pursuits that provide little in the way of lasting happiness, such as purchasing costly consumer goods."

"Ironically, the potential for money to increase happiness may be subverted by the kinds of choices that thinking about money promotes," she said. "The mere thought of having money makes people less likely to help acquaintances, to donate to charity, or to chose to spend time with others, precisely the kinds of behaviour strongly associated with happiness."

While they conclude that the research can be applied by governments to promote investment , surely the research conclusions should lead us to question the actual continuance of the money economy , an exchange economy instead of the gift economy .

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