The western world seems to spend a lot of time searching for happiness. Consumer culture tells us that stuff makes us happy but we have all experienced that the happiness from things is only fleeting. In 2013 two behavioral scientists published their latest research in a book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. In their book authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton outline five principles for individuals and companies can follow, when spending money, to achieve more happiness.
The authors’ five principles include:
- Buy Experiences
- Make it a Treat
- Buy Time
- Pay Now, Consume Later
- Invest in Others
These principles are such great reminders and especially ring true for volunteer travelers. So many times when an international volunteer returns home they will describe their experience as “life changing” and I think Happy Money provides a little insight into why. When people take a volunteer trip they are not purchasing a vacation but they are experiencing a whole other way of life. Volunteers are learning from another culture and community and investing their time and resources in other people.