Happiness often seems like an elusive goal. Today's 24-hour news cycle can be outright depressing. And so is the news that America ranks 13th in the 2016 World Happiness Report.
Norton, author of 'Happy Money', shared his thoughts on happiness and money. Most people are buying themselves stuff all the time, however, he said, "when you look at the data, it doesn't make you happy." Norton added that while it's not bad to buy stuff, it does not improve your happiness. When you switch your buying habits to favor experiences over things, it leads to more reliable happiness.
Kogan agreed with Norton, adding that we are inherently social beings. She said that the number one predictor of how happy someone feels long term, is the strength of their relationships. Kogan cited data that for every positive person that you interact with frequently, your chance of being happier increases.
The brain is conditioned to look out for negative things, and often times puts small details on autopilot. Therefore, we end up ignoring positive social interactions, said Kogan. She said that in order to get out of autopilot, we need to be present, and register the moment in some way. She suggested writing down your gratitude, or taking a photo, and to share it with someone else.
They also discussed the role of giving in happiness. Norton cited the importance of social connections in giving. "If I buy something for myself... the happiness definitely ends with me, because it's just me," he said. But when giving another person a gift, the happiness is shared between the person giving the gift and the person receiving the gift.
Norton addressed the role of money in one's happiness. He said that a new survey shows that millionaires are not happier than those making less money than them, and most people are happy when they're making around $80,000 to $90,000 a year. Kogan said that "it's when your basics are taken care of." She said that any new amount of money we earn, we get used to quickly, because we are such adaptable beings. Kogan described the happiness gap in parents in the United States. The two biggest factors in this happiness gap are costly child care, and lack of vacation days. She said that once those things are addressed, the happiness gap will close.
Norton said that on a happiness scale of 82, he is currently at a 78. Kogan said she looks at happiness as a practice, not a state. She said she is happier, but she is constantly working on it. "It's not a feeling, it's something you do," said Kogan. The two guests could not determine who is happier, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Jim said he is happiest when he is wearing a mask. (We didn't ask questions.)