Recent research suggests that money can indeed buy happiness – as long as it is spent on someone other than oneself. A study by a team University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found that spending as little as $5 on someone else can mean real gains in happiness for a given day.

Over 600 U.S. volunteers were asked their annual income and spending habits, including monthly bills, gifts, purchases they make for themselves, and charity. They were also asked their general level of happiness.

Then they were given $5 or $20 with specific instructions on how to spend it. Participants were told whether to spend the money on themselves or on someone else. The volunteers who spent the money on someone else reported feeling happier, even when they had felt they would be happiest spending the cash on themselves.

This study may also explain why U.S. citizens are no happier, even though Americans are richer than in years past. Despite drastic increases in earned income, charitable donations have remained flat over time.

Due to recent economic events, now is the time when many more citizens are in need of a helping hand. On the same coin, rocky financial times have actually led to a drop in charitable donations. From food shelves to homeless shelters, charities are strapped for cash and supplies.

There are communities that are fighting back, however. Though money is tight in many households these days, now is not the time to close up your wallet to charity. Whether it is a few cans of food donated to your local area food shelf or $5 given to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, every little bit counts. Small amounts given here and there will brighten the lives of both the giver and the receiver.

This article can also be found here at Sense & Serendipity.

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