How to Buy Happiness in 3 Simple Steps

The old adage, you can’t buy happiness, might not be entirely accurate after all. While it is true that buying things to try and make ourselves happy is relatively ineffective, spending money can increase our overall sense of life satisfaction (the real type of happiness). It all comes down to how and what we spend our money on.

There are 3 keys to getting the most happiness for your hard earned dollars:

1. Buy experiences, not possessions. While it may be exciting to acquire a new thing, the thrill wears off rapidly, even quicker than you might expect. Our inbuilt durability bias causes us to overestimate how good things will make us feel and how long these feelings will last.

So, even though we might think that a new car in the picture will make us happy for eternity, in reality, the pleasure often only lasts about as long as the car is considered new (we’re probably talking weeks, not months). What will more likely make us happy is the beach behind the car (which we could get to in a much cheaper vehicle).

Experiences, on the other hand, leave us with positive memories, which we can draw happiness from over and over again. They enrich our lives much more than possessions do, particularly if we can share the experience with another person.

2. Spend money on others. When we spend money on ourselves we experience a short term surge of our pleasure chemicals (Dopamine and Serotonin). When we spend money on others we receive a much longer lasting hit of our happiness chemical (Oxytocin). This chemical makes us feel connected to others and has been shown to be a major factor in long term happiness.

It doesn’t even matter how much you spend, or whether you know the person. The Pay it Forward phenomenon is starting to pop up all around the globe. From the Pizza Shop in Philly, where customers can leave prepaid pizza for the homeless, to coffee shops, thrift stores and even major corporations, we are starting to realising the power of altruism on our own happiness.

3. Practicality beats cool, every time. Try to spend money on things that make your life easier, rather than on things that are cool, but impractical. Before you whip out your credit card, ask yourself these 3 questions: Will I actually use this as often as I am trying to convince myself? Will it really make my life easier? Will it save me a lot of time? If the answer to all 3 questions is yes, you’re probably on the right track.

The perfect example is my recent purchase of a scooter (I got rid of my giant fuel guzzling car). While the much cooler option would have been a motorbike, the practicality of the scooter makes my life much easier. It is easier to ride in heavy traffic, has storage, requires less maintenance, and is more fuel efficient.

These simple, practical ideas are just the tip of the happiness iceberg. The much more powerful concepts are covered in our eBook, The No-Bull Pathway to Happiness. In the spirit of altruistic happiness, for a limited time, we are giving HSL readers a free copy of the ebook. Simply tell us where to send it, below.



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