I pay close attention to empirical findings while writing this blog. I try to translate data into useable information that can hopefully make your life a little better. One of the major tenets of positive psychology is that we can make immediate and small, incremental changes to improve the quality of our lives. Change your thinking and behavior, and positive transformation may follow.
There is a wonderful little book entitled, Happy Money, The Science of Smarter Spending, by Dunn & Norton. The focus of the book is how to get the biggest happiness bang for the buck.
One of the most interesting findings relates to housing. Many people move out of their current homes because they are dissatisfied with something about that house. Over time, those people who move “up” are still very satisfied with their homes, BUT NO HAPPIER WITH THEIR LIVES. This may suggest it’s not worth the effort that goes into making the money to buy the nicer home. It’s not the stuff that make you happy, even if it is the dream home you’ve always wanted.
In the U.S., research shows that once people are making $75,000 a year, making more money has no impact whatsoever on happiness levels. So, what does increase happiness? How can you spend money in atypical ways that can actually increase happiness?
Here is a list of the five principles the authors cite that may increase your happiness. At least focus on one of these suggestions to transform your life.
- Buy Experiences-Material objects provide less happiness (and have more upkeep) than experiences, (vacations, sporting events, concerts, etc.) Money can buy fun!
- Make It A Treat-Take something that you enjoy every day and make it scarcer, such as limit the daily cappuccino to weekends only.
- Buy Time-Outsource jobs you hate so you have more time to spend as you choose, this is consistently one of the most powerful predictors of happiness.
- Pay Now–Consume Later-You’ve heard it before, but it still holds true-only use credit cards for convenience. Credit card debt is a prison best avoided.
- Invest In Others-Spending money on others is more enjoyable than spending it on ourselves, even if it is just a very small sum of money. It feels good to give.