you're reading...
Career, Rethink

How to Buy Happiness – Me versus the Harvard Business Review

“Show me the money! Show me the money!” screamed Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) in a scene from the movie Jerry Maguire.

Show me the money!

Show me the money!

This movie is a great movie, not only for the love story but also for the story of a man. A man who faces the struggle of being an honest man, in an industry obsessed with money and fame, where love and morality dims in comparison.

In the recent article by the Harvard Business Review Blog, How Money Actually Buys Happiness, it was mentioned that “showing the money” could indeed buy happiness. Even Warren Buffett, the world’s well known investor, donated 99% of his wealth and bought happiness in the process. It’s a weird world we live in where happiness, an emotion, can actually be bought and measured by dollars and cents.

Even though I respect money and the power it wields, money cannot be a panacea for human happiness. Human connections, positive mindset, and compassion, are few of many ways to achieve happiness, without the use of money. If anyone is keen to find out how happiness can be achieved, blogs like The Only Guide to Happiness You’ll Ever Need, by Leo Babauta, may prove a better read than what the Harvard Business Review has to offer.

Besides money, Warren Buffett, in his Philanthropic Pledge, also considered time as the most precious asset. An asset even more precious than money. So, besides donating money to buy a patient his next kidney dialysis, why not consider giving time to the people out there?

Reach out and make that human connection!


The gift of time could perhaps be considered the most valuable form of giving. If we could not donate money on the scale of Warren Buffett, the gift of time, being more precious than money, could offer an alternative means to achieve the same amount of happiness, if not more.

When your donated time translates to an effort, and your effort translates to a connection to another human being, these brief periods in time are times where we reap the greatest amount of happiness. Happiness in seeing a beautiful smile. Happiness in hearing the laughter of a child. These connections would easily worth much more in “happiness credits” than a $50 donation would ever make. A $50 cheque could never tug the emotional heartstrings the way giving time and effort could.

If you are still not convinced on the impact in which your donated time achieves, consider the following.

Assume the following earning power of a person.

Earnings / Day = $150

Cost / Man-Day of volunteering every Sat = $150

Total Cost / Man-Month of Volunteering = $600

Even if I were to use the yardstick of money to measure the impact of donating our time, the results are clear. I’ll bet none of us reading this blog donates $600 every month to charity.


Now, even if you would like to start today, to commit to a regular donation of your time, what could you do? Start by googling “volunteer opportunities in Singapore”! The first site that popped up when I googled the phrase was SGcares. This site may be a good place to start finding a cause you believe in. If you are keen to work with youth, feel free to contact me as I am also planning for something with the youths.

Regardless of your cause, be it environmental, helping the disabled, or helping the old, learn to commit yourself to that cause. A cause you believe in and is passionate about, would reap the greatest happiness when you see the results of your effort. By committing and engaging yourself whole heartedly in the cause, it is likely you will find that spark of happiness. Happiness that comes from learning something new, connecting with others, helping others, being grateful, and so much more.


Lastly, it is all about the impact you made that makes you happy. My bet is Warren Buffett would never have donated if he could not feel the impact of his donation. It is always the feeling you have after observing the impact of your effort that achieves happiness. Impact that in turns motivates you to continue what you are doing.

Despite having contributed to various charities via monetary donation, I have never observed the direct impact of my donations like Warren Buffett did. Hence, monetary donation became just another process that I chose to perform, but without triggering the emotional heartstrings of happiness in me. It is not my intention to suggest that you contribute less money to charities since every dollar does add up. Instead, I urge you to consider donating more of your time to causes that you believe in, and in the process, obtain the happiness you seek. Happiness is an end in itself, and also the means (motivation) for you to continue giving.

My cause in life is to maximize the potential of the people around me, and the journey in my cause have given me great joy and fun. By trying to build a youth program with friends, to prepare self-improvement presentations for my students, and to write a blog to inspire the people around me to step out of their comfort zone, I have donated my time and in the process achieved happiness. Continue to explore progressively your commitment level in giving your time, to what cause, and with what impact. One day, this search for happiness will end, and when it ends, I hope you will find for yourself the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” - Aristotle

p.s: Only after finishing this blog did I realize that besides volunteering, the 3 points above could also be applied to your career. After giving time to your job, do you believe in its cause, are you able to feel the impact of your work? If you could honestly answer these questions about your job, the answers could also present you choices of what you should do about it.

About these ads



  1. Pingback: What Inspires You? (Part 1/2) | dreamzexplorer - September 25, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What am i thinking?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 944 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 2,082 hits

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 944 other followers

%d bloggers like this: