Hearing aids can be costly, but when we spend so much money on modern technology, why do we pause with hearing aids? Audiologist Beth McCormick looks at how buying hearing aids can not only buy happiness, but long-term happiness.
Can what we buy make us happy? The Beatles famously sang that “Money can’t buy you love,” but recent research suggests that money can indeed buy happiness. Research suggests the amount of happiness equated to earning power diminishes greatly on annual earnings over $75,000. Earning enough to cover basic living expenses maximizes the amount of happiness derived from money. In short, the increase in happiness money provides diminishes once our basic needs have been met.
So, assuming basic needs have been met, how can we spend our hard earned money in a way that maximizes happiness? Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D., suggests that if money is not making you happy, you probably are not spending it correctly. He explains that, “Money is an opportunity for happiness, but it is an opportunity that people routinely squander because the things they think will make them happy often don’t.”
Making a purchase can increase personal happiness, but the resulting euphoria is often short lived. Purchasing the latest tech gadget or luxury automobile can increase your personal happiness, but that happiness is difficult to sustain. Psychologists believe that humans have the unique ability to adapt to new possessions quickly, and once we do, a new standard is created, making it more difficult for those same purchases to increase our happiness ongoing. We may spend a few weeks admiring the technology of a new smartphone, but after the newness wears off, the functionality quickly begins to feel routine.
“It comes out pretty clear that life experiences tend to buy more happiness on the whole than material items,” explains Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and creator of the website Beyond the Purchase. Howell and colleagues study how spending habits can affect happiness. Spending money on an experience or on another person provides more long-term, sustainable happiness than purchasing material possessions, and money spent on life experiences that can be shared with others increase happiness the most.
So if life experiences are what bring us the greatest happiness, what about spending money on something that can bring years of new adventures, new opportunities, new experiences and new sounds?
Could the instant gratification of purchasing new technology also provide an increase in long-term sustainable happiness? In other words, can we buy happy with hearing aids? As an audiologist, I would argue yes.
Hearing aids have the unique ability to combine the instant gratification that purchasing a high tech gadget gives us while also enhancing life experiences. Hearing aids are more than material possessions. Hearing well connects us to the important people in our lives and opens us up to new opportunities. Our ears allow us to listen, connect, and understand the world around us.
Hearing is a sensory experience that connects us to others, and if research suggests the best way to maximize personal happiness long-term is to spend money enjoying shared life experiences with those you love, then yes, hearing aids are one of the only technologies that can buy us happiness.