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01st Feb 2023

Harvard professor says winning lottery won’t make you happy

Callum Boyle


Turns out money can’t buy you happiness.

It’s an age-old tale that money can’t buy you happiness and it appears that is the case as one Harvard professor has explained. Dr Sanjiv Chopra – a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School – has explained the reasons why, citing that while you may be happy to win the lottery, it’s likely to only be short-lived.

During a TED talk in 2019, he said: “Let’s say you win $20 million on the lottery. The research shows that at the end of a year, they’re back to their baseline. Some are less happy. They might have bought a huge house, a big mansion, a new car. Some of them spent it away, not in good ways, they gambled away the money. But even if they did, at the end of three months, it’s just a house, it’s just a nice car. You get used to it.”

Chopra added that the process of getting used to what you have is known as hedonic adaptation, where people return to a set level of happiness, regardless of how their circumstances change. He then went on to reveal the four key elements that have been scientifically linked to happiness.

“Your friends are your chosen family,” Dr Chopra said. “Choose your friends wisely, and celebrate everything small or good with your friends. The second attribute of people who are happy is the ability to forgive… If any of you harbour a grudge, my plea to you – get rid of it.”

The third element is the act of giving. Most lottery winners have been known to feel more happiness when treating their loved ones as oppose to spoiling themselves,  while the final one is gratitude. “If you don’t know the language of gratitude, you will never be on speaking terms with happiness,” he said. “All the research has shown that if you express gratitude on a regular basis you will be happy, you will be more creative, you will be more fulfilled – you might even live 10 years longer.”

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