Spreading The Happiness Advantage

Careertopia Finds Money Can Buy You Happiness After All

In his book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Achor provides several proven ways to improve our moods and raise our level of happiness throughout the day.

And he states that if we perform these activities habitually over time, we can permanently raise our happiness levels.

One of those activities? “Spend Money – but not on stuff.”

Achor cites studies and sources which indicate that two methods of spending have led to increased happiness levels:

  1. Spend money to do things, not to have things.
  2. Spend money on other people.

Sounds reasonable, right?

But we – the team here at Careertopia – wanted to test it for ourselves.

And because we read Achor’s book right before the holidays, we decided to implement his advice when choosing the gifts we send to our coaching clients.

Finding the Perfect Gift

So, how do you select a “non-stuff” gift to suit a number of individuals…ideally choosing an activity that they’d actually participate in, and hopefully enjoy doing.

Considering that this group of people has varied interests, and they live all over the world, this was quite a tall order.

But then we found it.


In case you aren’t familiar with them, Kiva is a non-profit organization with the mission to alleviate poverty through lending.

Using the internet and a network of microfinance institutions, Kiva connects people like you and me to entrepreneurs worldwide with loans as little as $25, helping create opportunity around the world.

They boast a 98.98% repayment rate, and since they began in 2005, over 900,000 lenders have funded over $411 million in loans in 67 countries.

When making a loan, you select the recipient. You can make your choice based on a variety of factors: geography, business sector, organization, etc.

Kiva says they connect people. When you peruse the profiles and eventually select someone, you definitely feel connected to them.

Here’s the process in a nutshell:

It’s pretty simple. You choose a borrower, make a loan, and get repaid.

The best part?

That habit-creating thing Achor mentioned.

Once your loan is repaid, you don’t have to withdraw the funds out of Kiva. You can relend it to another recipient. And another. And another.

The Verdict

So instead of sending our clients fancy wine aerators or cheese knives – as we had in years past – we funded Kiva accounts for them.

And it was a grand success.

They raved. They loved the concept of helping others who were working to help themselves. They really loved not receiving another marginally-useful generic gift.

They shared the lending experience with their families, and even involved their children in selecting loan recipients.

Some of them added personal funds to their account so they could lend more. Others shared the Kiva concept with their friends.

How did our team feel, hearing about all this? Happy.

And each time we get an update from Kiva on the status of our loans, reminding us of the folks we’re connected to? It makes us happy.

So, it seems that Shawn Achor is right – money can buy happiness after all.


Bryce Christiansen
Internet Marketing Specialist
Certified Professional Behavior Analyst