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Happiness For Sale
The Best Things In Life Are Free. But Studies Show Financial Security Is The Key To Procuring Happiness.
Money can’t buy happiness. Every nine-year-old playing on an iPad has heard this phrase. In fact, it’s believed that happiness is found in the gentlest moments – when one is immersed in nature or staring into a loved one’s eyes. However, new research has recently revealed that money can unlock happiness. It can be a catalyst for happiness. It is a powerful lever that can open doors to the life you seek – so long as you know how to spend it.
How should you spend money to “buy” happiness?
First, think beyond the boundaries of the self. Money, when spent on others, is giving that goes both ways. This pro-social spending makes others feel valued. It also empowers you to feel connected. Spend your money on a gift, and reap the happy feeling that comes with giving that gift.
Second, even though you’re name isn’t Doc Brown and your wallet may be 1.21 gigowatts short, find ways to buy time. Spending money to increase your free time—time that can be spent exercising, volunteering, and participating in a community, does wonders for your overall happiness. Outsource some of your daily activities—cooking, cleaning, etc.—to free up your time to do what truly makes you happy. Outsourcing is increasingly seen as a wise investment – no longer a mere luxury for the super rich.
Third, anticipate and experience happiness. Happiness is not something merely enjoyed in the moment. It is anticipated. It is recollected. Create great experiences that become great memories. Use money to help you. By planning ahead—say, a vacation that is months away—you will feel eager for the trip to come. Anticipating such a positive experience is a feeling of happiness we have all enjoyed. Plan ahead a lot—make many small, easy trips (and traditions) so you (and your immediate family) can anticipate and look forward to the happy adventures ahead.
Fourth, when looking to buy happiness… buy experiences. Remember this: Material goods quickly depreciate. That hot Mercedes will become a dated Mercedes. That high-end Nordic Track might become a kids’ bookshelf in three months. Experiences, like that Hawaiian vacation, add value to your life, and in cases where you are experiencing vacations, outings, and events with others, you are deepening your relationships, and strengthening your bonds.
If you do have to spend, spend on many small pleasures, not a few costly, big pleasures. Constantly reward yourself with small items to nurture yourself (and your family). Consider: movie tickets, a decadent French pastry…the cucumber smoothie to burn off that outrageously sinful French pastry. Whatever it is, define the moments in your day/week that bring you joy. Add these little “indulgences” daily and turn short-term happiness into long-term happiness.
Also, spend money on what makes you happy. Not the guy down the cubicle row happy. Not the guy down the block happy. Understand why things make you happy and pursue these things. Be conscious of what makes you feel competent and peaceful. Invest your money in items and experiences that increase these emotions. Deliver the care for yourself (and your loved ones) in a way that makes you – not others/outsiders – happy.
And finally, remember this: Money and happiness are not mutually exclusive. While we put great importance on money and recognize that our salary/bonus/stock options conveys our value as employees to our company, the dollar amount in our paycheck alone does not dictate if we are happy or sad. It is how we spend and save that money – and in this case, spend to wisely engineer an ongoing environment in which we can derive pleasure and bliss from the things that uniquely make us happy. Money is the critical middleman that we can use to unlock happiness in other aspects of our lives. Spend wisely. Spend happily.
 “If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right “Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert, Timothy D. Wilson, , Journal of Consumer Psychology, Volume 21, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 115-125.