Home > Uncategorized > If You Think Money Can’t Buy Happiness, Try Giving Some Away-Michael Norman

If You Think Money Can’t Buy Happiness, Try Giving Some Away-Michael Norman





Today I attended the Economic Club of Grand Rapid’s Luncheon at the JW Marriot.

For those of you in the business community in Greater Grand Rapids, I would highly recommend that you check out getting a membership. The Econ Club always hosts top notch presenters and is a great place to connect with other business professionals.


The speaker, Michael Norman, is an author and professor at Harvard’s school of business . Professor Norman is the author of “Happy Money: The Science of Spending”. Although I haven’t read his book, his presentation was extremely interesting. the premise was simple: People who spend money on others gain more satisfaction than those who spend money on themselves. (my paraphrase).



In a lot of respects Professor Norman was “preaching to the choir”  – we all know that Grand Rapids is one of the most philanthropic cities in the U.S. – but his message is one that we all need reminding.


Why do we need reminding?


I believe the answer is simple – we all are selfish.


We think about ourselves, and our own interests.


Professor Norman compiled a lot of data in his book. He most aptly noted that whenever he would ask someone what they would do if they won the lottery, the answers may have varied, but they all had one thing in common – it always involved spending the money on themselves.


To quote the Bible, it is why the apostle Paul had to specifically state it in Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.


We need this reminding – because it is against our nature to simply think of others above ourselves.


Another statistic Professor Norman presented was that the people who give the most are the poorest.

The middle class generally give the least.


Why is this? I was captivated by Professor Norman’s explanation:

The poor are generally much  more sensitive to the needs of others around them, since they themselves know what it is like to be in need.

Conversely, the middle class are comfortable – and naturally – the fact that there are those out there in need is not the thought at the forefront of their minds.


We all need to be reminded to think outside of ourselves.


I would take Professor Norman’s observation a step further – we will be happier if we give not only our money, but also our time, talents and resources for the good of others.


If we open up our home to share a meal with others in need, if we use our spheres of influence to raise funds, or we use our talents to serve on the board of a local non-profit, we will be truly blessed.


My exhortation to non-profits everywhere:


Keep reminding us that people all over the world are in need – we need to be reminded and to get outside of ourselves.



Questions? Comments?


Email me: Jeshua@dwlawpc.com



Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Aniss
    February 11, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Jeshua, great comments. But, how do we get those who are so selfish, those who would never read your comments or listen to such a presentation, to take the higher road? We can do our best to exemplify the highest moral and ethical values, but so many can’t see beyond their own self, and it can have a detrimental impact on organizations and the people in it.

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