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Home » Michael Norton: Money Can Buy Happiness at TEDxCambridge 2011 (Transcript)

Michael Norton: Money Can Buy Happiness at TEDxCambridge 2011 (Transcript)

Michael Norton

Here is the full transcript of Harvard Business School Professor Michael Norton’s TEDx Talk: Money Can Buy Happiness at TEDxCambridge 2011 conference.

Michael Norton – Social science researcher

I want to talk today about money and happiness, which are two things that a lot of us spend a lot of our time thinking about. Either trying to earn them or trying to increase them.

And a lot of us resonate with this phrase, so we see it in religions and self-help books, that money can’t buy happiness. And I want to suggest today that in fact that’s wrong.

I’m at a business school, so that’s what we do. So that’s wrong. And in fact, it’s not so much that money can’t buy happiness.

It is not so much that money can’t buy happiness, it’s that – if you think that, you’re just not spending it right. So that instead of spending it the way you usually spend it, maybe if you spent it differently that might work a little bit better.

Before I tell you the ways that you can spend it that will make you happier, let’s think about the ways we usually spend it that don’t in fact make us happier. We had a little natural experiment. CNN a little while ago, wrote this interesting article on what happens to people when they win the lottery.

People think when they win the lottery, their lives are going to be amazing. This article is about how their lives get ruined. So, what happens when people win the lottery: 1) They spend all the money and go into debt. 2) All of their friends and everyone they’ve ever met, find them and bug them for money. It ruins their social relationships in fact. They have more debt and worse friendships than they had before they won the lottery.

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