Tag Archives: people matter

Why Money Doesn’t Buy What Matters.

“Joy is repeatedly being reminded that you believed in the right kinds of people.” — Dharmesh Shah

In 2011, three psychologists released a study about money and happiness. The title of their report summed it up nicely: “If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right.”

They dug in further:

“Wealthy people don’t just have better toys; they have better nutrition and better medical care, more free time and more meaningful labor—more of just about every ingredient in the recipe for a happy life. And yet, they aren’t that much happier than those who have less. If money can buy happiness, then why doesn’t it?”

And then they came to heart of their research: Money gives people opportunities. It gives people the chance to have resources and possessions and experiences that those with less cannot have. But money does not guarantee that the people with money will spend it in a way that will actually make them happy.

It’s not hard to guess what we think will make us happy: Just watch an hour of TV around Christmas-time, and see what the advertisers are selling. That fancy sweater. That new car. That dream home.

But what the psychologists found is that the happiness from those things doesn’t really last. We get excited about that new car, and then we sit in a traffic jam and forget all about it. We buy that new home, and special wood floors to match, and then we have to spend money on upkeep.

So what actually makes us happy? The psychologists point to two things in particular:

1.) Experiences: Going on trips. Spending money on an interesting new restaurant. Seeing a show. You’ll enjoy it in the short term, and even months later, you’ll think about something you saw or ate, and you’ll smile. (Think for a second about a restaurant you love or a concert you enjoyed, and you’ll understand.)

2.) Giving: Giving your time to charity. Volunteering. Any sort of helping — from mentoring to listening to a friend for a few minutes — tends to come back to you. Even giving gifts can make us happy. When we’re spending time and money on others, we’re usually happier than when we’re spending money on ourselves.

Of course, this all leads back to three simple questions: What matters to you? What do you actually care about?

And are you going to spend money on it, or not?

Photo at top via @russeyler

Nancy and Julie.

When I look back on the women who’ve had the most impact on my life, I don’t look to teachers. I don’t look to historical figures.

I look to my mother and her friends. I look most of all to Julie, and I look to Nancy.

About five years ago, Julie died. Cancer.

Last week, Nancy died. Cancer.

And I am at a loss for words — again.

But if there’s something I should say about these two women — these two amazing women, these two women I am so blessed to have had in my life — I say these two things:

Julie and Nancy laughed as hard as any people I’ve ever met.

Julie and Nancy always made you understand that they loved you, and that they put you first.

Laughter and love. Those are two of the most wonderful things in the world, and I know it because of them.

I miss you, Julie, and I’ll miss you, Nancy. Thanks for teaching me so much about this world. I won’t forget it.

Say It Now.

“Cause this is what you’ve waited for.” — Glen Hansard

When I was a kid, I was really shy about approaching people. An interview with a source, or just saying hello — I was always slow to make a move.

And at some point, I just got tired of dawdling. Waiting was exhausting.

I learned:

If there’s a goal that matters to you, starting talking about it now.

If there’s someone who matters to you, go tell them now.

If there’s work that matters to you, start doing something about it now.

Waiting doesn’t do anything for you. Get going, and start now.

The Thing That Makes The Internet So Amazing.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” — Yogi Berra

In Feb. 1995, Newsweek published a story titled, “Why Web Won’t Be Nirvana.” It is a piece that has not aged well.

And this is my favorite quote from the story:

“What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact. Discount the fawning techno-burble about virtual communities. Computers and networks isolate us from one another.”

Which is, of course, not what played out.

What makes the internet so amazing in 2013 is that we have such powerful communities. NPR keeps chugging along because there’s such a strong community that supports it. Kickstarter’s a place where community directly funds its most creative members. Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit — they’re all places built and maintained by communities.

For all of the amazing stuff about the web, it turns out it’s the people that makes it such an amazing place. And when you leave out the people — when you don’t ship your work, or you avoid your communities on the web — you miss out on the thing that makes the internet so great.