How To Buy Happiness
Once you can afford to feed, clothe and house yourself, each extra pound makes less and less difference to your sense of well-being.” Liz Hoggard, Making Slough Happy
Money can’t buy you happiness, right?
Wrong, according to Jonathan Haidt, author of the excellent The Happiness Hypothesis who insists that “those who think money can’t buy happiness just don’t know where to shop.” And then goes on to show how smart spending choices will make you thrifty and happy.
Now, I love Thrifty, but I love Happy more. Isn’t Happy what Thrifty is really shooting for? Why are you cutting your spending? Freedom from the misery of debt? A good life at a lower price? Saving up to live out a personal dream? Whatever your reason, it’s about being happier. It’s always about being happier.
So, what should we be doing with our money, to maximise our Happy? I have been exploring the world of Positive Psychology and here is what I have learned.
How To Buy Happiness
- Invest in variety not volume. It’s not the expense of a new thing that delights us – it’s the newness, the change from what we just had to what we have now. So frequent, small treats will create steadier happiness over time than occasional big purchases. Treating yourself little and often could make you more contented than saving up for one big expense.
- Invest in doing not having. Activity, according to positive psychologists, brings greater and longer-lasting pleasure than possessions, especially activity that we share with others.
- Invest in creating rather than just consuming. Making things makes you happy. Buying things, not so much. Cook things, grow things, make music, design a web site, redecorate your home – whatever works for you. .
“Joy’s soul lies in the doing” (Shakespeare)
- Invest in your health. It’s harder to feel good when you feel bad. Money spent on nutritious food, a comfortable mattress, shoes you can walk in, etc, is money well spent. (Note to self: money spent on fancy wine is a less secure investment in lingering happiness.)
- Invest in relationships. Spend money on connecting with others (meeting friends for coffee, travelling to visit family, sending a birthday card, etc.) rather than on competing to have the best, biggest, most luxurious and most expensive of everything. We are hyper-social animals and we need to feel connected to others more than we need to keep up with the Joneses.
- Invest in community: share. Studies show that people who share more are usually happier than people who don’t. Perhaps it’s because it reminds them how lucky they are to have more than others; perhaps it reassures them that they have something of value to offer to others; perhaps it helps them feel involved with the rest of the human race. Perhaps we just feel good when we do good. Whatever the reason, in terms of buying happiness, it’s a great investment.
Click here for this week’s Thrifty Habits Planner. It’s free – what could be thriftier than that?