The topic of excess is something that plagues our society. It is often thought that wealth is something to be frowned upon or even worthy of envy.  Many people strive to attain fortune because they truly believe that it will improve their level of happiness.  A better approach to the problem of finding happiness would be to ask the question, what actually makes us happy? As for most questions, the answer can be found in a TED Talk or two.

In his talk, “Less stuff, more happiness”, Graham Hill discusses the common concept that living a simple life will lead to an improved outlook.  He models how he “edited” his life so he could “live little.”  He describes the specific changes he made, which allowed him to experience simplicity. With these changes, he was able to minimize the physical clutter in his life and make room for the other aspects he considered to be more important. The final thought he leaves with the audience is, “Less might equal more, so lets make room for the good stuff.” This statement highlights the idea that we don’t need to buy material items to be happy but Michael Norton would disagree.

It is constantly said that money cannot buy happiness. However, Michael Norton presents a counter to this statement. He says that if we spend money on the right things, we can, in fact, buy happiness. However, he is not referring to spending extra money during a shopping spree but instead he encourages us to spend money on someone other than ourselves. In a study he conducted with undergraduate students in Canada as well as individuals from Uganda, he found that no matter the amount spent, the act of giving to others made those who participated happier.

These TED talks are proof that any topic can be interpreted by differing viewpoints. The more common reaction to a statement is often widely accepted by the public. On the other hand, there is usually another way to view a topic rather than simply accepting the popular belief.  It is through this type of analysis that innovative ideas are created and eventually shared.