Perhaps Money Can Buy 'Personal' Happiness, After All

British researchers have “found people who spend money on things they enjoy (hobbies, interests, etc.) tend to be happier than their peers. What they mean, of course, is not spending money for the heck of it, but rather spending it on things that express one’s personality.â€

“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”

—Walt Whitman

How might a physician better combat professional unhappiness and seek real fulfillment? Start buying those things that fit your disposition. Have a personal pocketbook with a purpose.

According to a new American Council on Science and Health report, British researchers have “found people who spend money on things they enjoy (hobbies, interests, etc.) tend to be happier than their peers. What they mean, of course, is not spending money for the heck of it, but rather spending it on things that express one’s personality.”

It makes some sense. I saw this time and time again with my physician-father. My dad was not an extravagant guy (he was tempered by a Depression era youth). My dad certainly appreciated the finer things in life but I don’t much recall him buying wildly expensive stuff. Mostly he acquired those things that made him content.

In this category I would include: clothes, cars, vacations, books and magazines, dining out, political donations, good liquor, the country club, video equipment, New York Giants season tickets, golf clubs and equipment, and loans to friends/family. None of them broke the bank, almost all of them helped to put a spring in his step and a smile on his face. And I see this as a talent he had.

Cambridge University researchers claim that the study “breaks new ground” suggesting “that spending money on products that help us express who we are as individuals could turn out to be as important to our well-being as finding the right job, the right neighborhood, or even the right friends and partners.”

The scientists examined a group’s buying habits through nearly 77,000 bank transactions and compared those to a standard personality and life satisfaction questionnaire.

“The study matched spending categories on the widely recognized ‘Big Five’ personality traits,” the ACSH reported—“openness to experience (artistic versus traditional), conscientiousness (self-controlled vs easygoing), extraversion (outgoing vs reserved), agreeableness (compassionate vs competitive), and neuroticism (prone to stress vs stable).”

With many new surveys showing that the even the lowest paid physician earns at least $200,000 per year, there’s got to be a little bit of money around in a MD’s household. My mother used to call it “fun money.” Find and fund the fun doctors. It’s well deserved.