By Richard Wiseman
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Extra resources for 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Borzoi Books)
Part of the reason is that we all get used to what we have very quickly. Buying a new car or a bigger house provides a short-term feel-good boost, but we quickly become accustomed to it and sink back to our pre-purchase level of joy. ”6 If money can’t buy happiness, what is the best way of putting a long-term smile on your face? ) that are difficult to change. However, the best news is that the remaining 40 percent is derived from your day-to-day behavior and the way you think about yourself and others.
The scanning results revealed that two evolutionarily ancient regions deep in the brain—the caudate nucleus and the nucleus accumbens—became active when participants witnessed some of their money going to those in need, and were especially busy when they donated money voluntarily. These two brain regions also spring into action when our most basic needs are met, such as when we eat tasty food or feel valued by others, suggesting a direct brain-based link between helping others and happiness. So, scientifically speaking, if you want some real retail therapy, help yourself by helping others.
You might think that the answer lies in the financial consequences of continually having to have the latest thing. But in fact the problem is not about the spending of money per se. It’s about who benefits from the cash. Materialists tend to be somewhat self-centered. Studies show that when presented with a hypothetical $40,000, materialists spend, on average, three times as much on things for themselves as they do on things for others. Also, when they are asked to rate statements about the degree to which they care for others (“I enjoy having guests stay in my house,” “I often lend things to my friends”), they end up giving far more self-centered responses.