Health and Wellness

3 ways to 'buy happiness', says Harvard expert: With 'a little knowledge and practice' anyone can do it

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This story is part of CNBC Make It's Tools for Happiness series, which details what we learned from taking a free happiness course offered by Harvard University.

Most people agree with the sentiment that money can't buy you happiness, but what if it actually could?

Arthur C. Brooks, a social scientist and Harvard professor, has an interesting perspective on money and happiness, which he shares in his free Harvard happiness course.

"At low levels, money improves well-being. Once you earn a solid living, however, a billionaire is not likely to be any happier than you are," Brooks wrote in his article for The Atlantic titled, "How to Buy Happiness."

But "no matter where we sit on the income scale, with a little knowledge and practice any of us can use money to bring more happiness," he adds.

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Money alone can't buy you happiness, but it can positively impact your well-being if you use your money wisely, Brooks notes. Here are a few ways that he suggests boosting your happiness with your finances.

3 ways you can 'buy happiness' according to a happiness expert

  1. Spend money on experiences: Invest your money in joyful experiences that you know will make you feel happier like going to a concert to see your favorite artist, or planning a vacation somewhere you've always wanted to go.
  2. Buy time: "If you pay someone to do something time-consuming that you don't like to do (for example, cutting your yard) and don't waste the time you gain on unpleasant things like doom-scrolling on social media, you can get a happiness boost by spending those extra hours with others," Brooks wrote.
  3. Give money away to help others: Donating your money to support a great cause or using your money to help another person can lead to boosts in "feel good" chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, according to the Cleveland Clinic's health blog.

"The key factor connecting all those approaches is other people. If you buy an experience, whether it be a vacation or just a dinner out, you can raise your happiness if you share it with someone you love," Brooks wrote in The Atlantic.

"Anyone who acquires money can use it to buy some happiness, and do a little self-improvement in the process. If we don't have much, we can spend any extra cash on removing some of the stressors in our daily lives."

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