Can Money Buy Happiness? It's All Relative.
Psychologists and economists have long wondered whether increased wealth does indeed translate into happiness, and now new research indicates that to the (small) extent we are made happier by
our wealth, it is because we feel we achieve a higher social rank than those
around us who make less money.
Chris Boyce, a psychologist at the University of Warwick in the U.K., found in a recent study that while money itself and increased consumption of goods and services contributes very little to individual well-being, people do feel happier when their wealth gives them a higher status than their peers. Boyce told Big Think that this is one reason a society's total wealth does not necessarily translate into its population becoming happier. As a result, he believes it may not make sense for countries to focus so much of their energy on economic growth.
"This [research] is by no means an endorsement that individuals should blindly
strive for more income but in fact an explanation as to why, in spite of
substantial economic growth, developed countries are not getting any
happier," Boyce told Big Think. "What we should be doing is concentrating on areas of
that might bring substantially more happiness, such as our mental health
and spending time with our friends and family. Given the rank income
explanation it is not sensible for countries to pursue income growth."
For other thoughts on the nature of happiness, check out Big Think's interview with psychologist Gretchen Rubin, who talks about how even completing small tasks like making your bed every day can bring a person increased happiness. As well, Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert, the author of "Stumbling Into Happiness" told Big Think that happiness is related to "affective forecasting," whereby we try to ascertain how happy we will be before we make a decision.
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A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.
- When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
- Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
- Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.
- Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
- When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
- Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
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