Money Makes Us Happy (No, Literally)

Apr 1, 2009 at 3:09 pm
click to enlarge A very happy and satisfied individual. - Miguel Miguel
A very happy and satisfied individual.
Thinking about money tends to depress me, mostly because the gap between my salary and my outstanding student loans is so distressingly wide.

But now our friends at the New Scientist have published some astounding new research that suggests that if I fondled a dollar bill for a couple of minutes, I might start to feel a little better. Really!

Scientists at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and Florida State University in Tallahassee, recently proved that "just handling paper money could reduce the distress associated with social exclusion, and also diminish the physical pain caused by touching very hot water."

According to the scientists, money gives us the same sort of lift as illegal drugs or porn. (Put more scientifically, it "activates the brain's pleasure centers." Less scientifically, does that equal a hard-on?) Money becomes our friend. It occasionally even supplants actual human beings. It's like an addiction! Even if you don't have any.

People who feel rejected by others or who were in physical pain were less generous about giving monetary gifts. (There's a moral here: Be nice to Grandma.)

Other scientists in France -- where else? -- have proven that we think about money the same way we think about food. Hungry people are less likely to donate money to charity, while people who were told to imagine they had won a lottery tended to eat more candy.

I would like to suggest to the bosses of this world -- particularly mine -- that all evidence suggests that a monetarily satiated employee is a happier one and may actually work harder.

Now I'm going to rummage around in the bottom of my wallet for a nice, comforting dollar bill.