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5 reasons you should stop spending money only on yourself right now.

Breaking news: Money can buy happiness. Sometimes.

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TD Ameritrade

Michael Norton is a professor at Harvard Business School. Smart dude, right? Well, he's got some news for us: Money can buy happiness. But it has everything to do with how that money is spent.

Check out the video of Michael Norton's TED Talk to get the whole scoop, or scroll down to read more.


Here are five reasons to spend your money on other people.

1. Too much money makes us selfish and antisocial.

The perfect example of this is winning the lottery. We all know it would be a dream come true to win the lottery, right? Maybe not. People who win the lottery often go into debt and have some pretty strained social relationships (what with every single human they've ever met asking them for money all the time).

GIFs via TED/YouTube.

And what do people commonly say they would do if they won the lottery? Check out these antisocial ideas:

  • First idea: "When I win I am going to buy my own little mountain and have a little house on top."

  • Second idea, far more creative but just as creepily antisocial: "I would fill a big bathtub with money and get in the tub while smoking a big fat cigar and sipping a glass of champagne. Then I'd have a picture taken and dozens of glossies made. Anyone begging for money or trying to extort from me would receive a copy of the picture and nothing else." ... ummmm, okkaayyyyy?

Bottom line: Winning the lottery makes people's lives worse. Imagining winning the lottery makes people weird.

But...

2. Spending money on other people makes you happier.

Norton did an experiment in which people in one experimental group (let's say Group A) were given money to spend on themselves. People in another experimental group (Group B) were given money to spend on other people. At the end of the day, Group A's happiness had remained the same; Group B's happiness had increased.

That's right: The people who spent money on others actually got happier.

Treat yo self ---> happiness remains the same.

GIF via "Parks and Recreation."

Spend on someone else ---> get happier.

Bottom line: Spending money on other people increases your level of happiness.

3. Donating money to charity is positively related to happiness.

You might be thinking, "OK, in a few wealthy countries, spending money on others increases happiness. Big whoop." But listen up: This finding holds true in almost every single country in the world.

Check out this map. Green countries are places where donating money to charity and general happiness in life are positively correlated — where money to charity and happiness go hand in hand.

Image via TED/YouTube.

See that sea of green? It shows that in 136 countries, people who give money to charity are happier than people who don't give money to charity. We can't say for sure why or which factor causes which result, but we know they're positively related.

Bottom line: Spending money on others is positively related to happiness all over the world.

4. Business teams that spend money on each other do better.

Here's another experiment that proves you should spend money on other people. This one focuses on sales teams in Belgium. In one group, individuals on the sales team were given money to spend on themselves. In the other group, they were given money to spend on someone else on the team. If you've been following up till now, I'm doubting their findings will shock you.

The result? Sales teams that spent money on each other performed better. They sold more stuff. They were more productive workers. Cash money increased.

GIF via TED/YouTube.

Pretty cool, right!? And the best example of what a prosocial team did with the money? They bought a piñata and smashed it together. How's that for team bonding? (Just don't hit your teammates.)

Bottom line: Spending money on other people even increases performance in a business setting.

5. Dodgeball teams that spend money on each other WIN ALL THE THINGS.

Yep, this concept also applies to dodgeball. The final experiment shows that dodgeball teams that got money to spend on each other were totally transformed and began to dominate the league. Like this:

GIF via "Glee."

Bottom line: Spend money on your teammates, WIN DODGEBALL. Also known as this spending-on-other-people thing has a ridiculously wide array of applications.

Did all that kind of blow your mind like it totally blew mine?

I don't know about you ... but I'm off to go buy someone a coffee.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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