People often use the phrase "money can't buy happiness", but that's a statement that Michael Norton doesn't necessarily agree with. The TED talk "How to Buy Happiness" explains how you can use money to make you happy, but not in the way you might think.
Norton explains that you can "buy" happiness if you spend money on other people, besides yourself. For example, going out and buying a necklace for your mom will make you feel much happier than if you bought one for yourself. To test this, Norton and his team decided to conduct an experiment at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He gathered up a group of people and gave them each an envelope containing some money and a note. The money ranged anywhere from $5 to $20, and the notes were split in two- half said "spend this money on yourself" and the other half said "spend this money on others". At the end of the day, Norton and his team would call up his experimenters and ask them what they spent the money on and how they were feeling. He found that most people who spent the money on others were happy, and most people who spent the money on themselves had no effect on their mood, so they weren't really happy or sad. Given, they did this experiment in Canada which is known to be a pretty wealthy country, so they decided to conduct the same experiment in Uganda. Even there, they found almost the exact same results as they did in Vancouver.
A key point of Norton's TED talk is that it doesn't matter how big the gift or how much money you spend on it, the happiness you feel when giving it to someone will be there no matter what. For example, one girl buys a fifteen dollar birthday gift for her mom. Another girl pays for a child's hospital bills who suffers from malaria. They're both extremely different ways of giving- one is a nice and thoughtful gift, but another is literally life saving. But even though there's a big difference between the two of these, the happiness is still in both of them for knowing what they did.
This TED talk honestly made me think a lot about gratitude and giving back. A lot of the money I get for allowance or from birthdays is spent on myself, not others- but I love the feeling of giving someone a gift. I agree with Norton when he says that spending your money on someone else brings you more joy, I just don't do it very often. My mom always gives me these long lectures about gratitude, basically saying the same things as Norton did in his talk, but for some reason it really hit me in the face when I heard him talking about it. Moreso when he brought up the women who paid for the child's hospital bills, and conducting his experiment in Uganda- the people living there were already not very privileged, so hearing that they were happier giving than receiving in their situation just melted my heart and really made me want to give more in the world.
"How to Buy Happiness" shows an unbelievable experiment that makes you really wonder about the difference between selfishness and selflessness. Norton's talk is truly the epitome of the phrase "to give is better than to receive."