In my last post, I said that it is true that money cannot buy happiness. This is true – for the most part. Material goods and conspicuous consumption will not lead to greater happiness. Having millions in the bank, in and of itself, does not lead to an enhanced sense of well-being either.
And yet, if know how to spend our money properly, it can lead to greater happiness. Here are some ways to do that:
1. Take more time off to spend with family and friends. Relationships are integrally related to our well-being. If we sacrifice those relationship in order to make more money, we are missing the boat. Remember the lessons from “The Cat’s in the Cradle” song by Harry Chapin? Around 70% of our happiness is tied to our relationships. To the extent that we have satisfying social relationships, we will tend to be happy. If we are too busy working, then we are compromising our happiness.
2. Go on more vacations. This is related to #1, of course, but seeing the world, experiencing new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes brings us into the present moment. The present moment liberates us from our mental afflictions – worries about the future, regrets about the past, and so on. When we are visiting new places, we are pulled out of our minds and into life.
3. Saving for the future. Living from paycheck to paycheck…or being in a lot of debt…leads to high levels of distress. We can all probably attest to this. Now, this does not mean we have to earn gobs of money. After all, we can spend more than we make at any income level. The key here is living within our means and putting some away for the future.
Notice that you don’t have to earn a lot of money to buy these forms of happiness. We don’t have to go to Paris for a vacation to be a memorable experience. I didn’t pull these suggestions out of the air. They are based on research findings cited in Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis. So, there you have it – 3 ways that money, in a way, can “buy” happiness.