A new study done jointly by researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Harvard Business School has found that money does actually buy happiness.
But there is one catch.
You have to spend some of it on others, either by giving tzedaka (charity) or through gift-giving, as Science Daily reports:
…In a series of studies, UBC Asst. Prof. Elizabeth Dunn found that individuals report significantly greater happiness if they spend money "pro-socially" -- that is on gifts for others or charitable donations -- rather than spending on themselves. Her findings will appear in the March 21 edition of the journal Science.So, here's another benefit to doing good.
"We wanted to test our theory that how people spend their money is at least as important as how much money they earn," says Dunn, who teaches in the UBC Dept. of Psychology and is lead author of the study.…
"Regardless of how much income each person made," says Dunn, "those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not "…
Beside making other people happy and making the world better, you also help yourself. Neat.
In another series of studies, a researcher from the Netherlands has shown that societal norms – do not litter, for example or share what you have with others – are more likely to be followed if the norm is associated with a person close to you.
If you think "my wife would not like it if I throw my candy wrapper in the gutter," or "my mother likes it when I share my candy with my siblings," you're more likely to do the correct thing and to be happy about it.
This effect extends to iconic figures, as well – in the studies' case, Santa Claus.
Presumably, this would apply to tzaddikim and gedolim. If children think, Rabbi Ploni would not litter, they are more likely not to litter and to feel good about it.
The studies do not deal with extreme demands of segments of society, like 10 hours of study, 5 days per week (and 5 hours on Friday), or the like.