This Blog Post Will Make You Happy

You can thank Dan Ariely for this tip on how to increase your level of happiness.


Dear Dan,

My aunt gave me some money for my birthday. Since she wasn’t sure about my likes and dislikes, she said to spend it on something that would make me happy. Do you have any advice on how to choose? —Katy

And Dan’s response:

While I’m sure there are many items that would make you happy, spending the money on someone else could make you even happier. In an experiment, researchers gave participants either $5 or $20. They then randomly asked the participants to go about their day and spend that money either on themselves or on someone else. Later, the researchers asked them about their happiness. Those who had spent the money on someone else, regardless of the amount, reported feeling happier throughout the day.

But what to buy these other people in order to get both the glow from gift-giving and something that they will like? A different set of researchers asked people to name the last gift that they had received and say how happy they were with it.

Though gift recipients were happy with items that they had wanted, on average they were even happier with unexpected and surprising gifts. These made them appreciate the thought from the sender and got them to experience something new. Hopefully, your aunt will also appreciate how you choose to spend her gift money.


Maybe you see where this is going – I want to help you on your road to becoming happier.

It’s pretty simple.

Just send me cash or a check made out to Jim Borden and mail it to me at Villanova University.

Imagine how happy you’ll feel.

And to paraphrase Jimmy Buffett, I will be sure to spend that money foolishly.

P.S. Feel free to put yourself on some sort of monthly happiness plan…

*image from Ticketmaster

90 thoughts on “This Blog Post Will Make You Happy

  1. I smiled at the idea of giving someone $5.00 and randomly going about your day to spend it or give it to a friend. I guess it’s a short experiment. I bought a package of six bagels at the supermarket today that cost more than $5.00.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The money the people in the experiment gave away was a gift. If you can convince someone to be kind enough to give me a $20, I’d be happy to think about giving some or all of it to you. No promises.😊 I wonder what the results of these strange experiments are used for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you’re right; it’s alot easier to give away money that someone jsut gave you. but isn’t that what a birthday gift is like.

      I think the results of these experiements are used to justify getting tenure 🙂

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  3. 😄😄 Don’t know what university policy is about receiving cash gifts, but working for the National Health Service we have a rule about receiving these – I hope you won’t be hearing this post read aloud in court 🤣

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      1. There’s more than enough other types to be able to ignore them. I do like some heavy legal, to be fair. I’m just looking for an excuse to play The Hu some time 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think you’d remember them if I had as they are very distinctive: Mongolian band, playing heavy metal on traditional instruments, with a style of Mongolian throat singing. Their videos look like they are shot in Middle Earth. Might be an eye opener 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  4. oh, I must have read this all wrong! I was getting ready to find a check from you in the mail and had already decided how to spend it. this is why it’s important for me to keep going to school and work on my reading comprehension.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Obviously these people weren’t buying gifts for picky tweenaged granddaughters. Believe me, money works better to make that demographic happy and giving money makes me even happier because I don’t have to shop.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t imagine writing to ask someone what I should spend my money on to make me happy!
    But I do agree, giving gifts to others brings happiness to both people, and the gift of friendship is priceless, so there you go. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. don’t worry, if you send me money, I won’t ask you any questions.

      and yes, gifts are good for both the giver and the receiver.

      and as to friendship, I think we could still be friends if you started paying me money…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well Jim, it’s like this. On Friday I received notice that my rent will increase by $183 per month, an increase of 15%. Meanwhile, my Social Security checks remain the same, about $118 more than my new monthly rent. So, what I am sending you is an I.O.U. in the amount of $1 million, payable when I win the lottery! You’re right!!! I feel happier already!!! Thanks, Jim!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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