Turns out we can buy happiness, but not in the way you think

13 thoughts on “Turns out we can buy happiness, but not in the way you think”

  1. When it comes to long weekends away with friends or family, I am a planner -food, drinks, prepped boat, yard games, anything I think we will need to enjoy the time – while that might not sound like a big deal, you are giving the gift of a care free weekend (and it’s way effing harder than people think)

    Sometimes just getting events planned is draining and time consuming

    If everyone is happy – I am happy

    1. True that, Apathy. Entertaining or planning is a great way to feel happiness, especially if everything turns out right. If everyone is happy, and you planned most of it, then yup – you’re happy too!

  2. I’m not the best at it, but buying gifts for others when they aren’t expecting it brings me happiness. For example, one of my younger siblings and his wife were moving and they asked my help to move them into their new place. Not a fun way to spend an afternoon, but I knew they needed the help so I was happy to do it. And I came with a few house warming gifts. They did not expect it at all and really appreciated the thoughtfulness. And I enjoyed the pleasure of doing that much more than had I even just bought those items for my own use.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts – yeah, especially giving gifts for those who *aren’t expecting it* can definitely put a smile on my face, too. Unexpected treasures can be pretty awesome! 🙂

  3. This s great! And I couldn’t agree more. From the 5-point bullet list, I’ve written a post entitled “Make it a Treat”, another called “Money Used to Buy Stuff, now it Buys Time,” my most recent post is about investing in a young entrepreneur, and I’ve frequently repeated the mantra to buy experiences, not things.

    I haven’t written about delayed gratification, but I’ve certainly lived it, having worked my tail off before getting a real job at age 30.

    Thanks for sharing the insight!


  4. I completely agree with these five main sources of happiness and your thoughts. I recently wrote a post with my thoughts about the subject of whether money can buy happiness. In essence, I think the main debate I see with my peers is the thought process of “oh, if I just made more money, I’d be happy” or “if I just owned this car, I’d be happy,” etc. They get in this mindset of always needing MORE, and never being content with what they already have. That’s a dangerous way to live, and life is going to pass them up without them even noticing it.

    Money can’t buy happiness in the form of material things. Just how you’ve shared with your own story, you had all the material things you thought you wanted, but something was still missing. Experiences, making a difference in other’s lives, and time are the three things that bring the most happiness via spending money. Those three areas bring great memories and fulfillment, not empty short-term pleasure.

    1. Thanks Matt. You’re right, the happiness equation just *seems* so simple, but in reality, it isn’t. It takes considerably more *meaningful* spending to elicit true happiness. It’s not hard, though – you just gotta do it! 🙂

  5. I remember hearing about this study on NPR when it came out. This was before we really committed to our FIRE plans, but it completely rang true for me. I believe we have always valued experiences, but this put a name and some logic to our love of free outdoor fun instead of paid them parks and ‘stuff’.
    As for doing things for others, I have been volunteering for a couple of years at a local middle school as a ‘science coach’. Ok, admittedly I signed up for my own benefit, because I thought it would be fun. It’s so much more than that though, even to be able to buy a few inexpensive materials for the experiment we will be doing, rather than the teacher having to find the money. It’s fun for me and much appreciated by the school. Win all around!

    1. Thanks Mrs. PIE. Volunteering can certainly be that source of happiness, with the added benefit of completely immersing yourself in the activity. It’s tough to beat that!

  6. My smallest thing I do is Smile at people – when I am walking in the hallway at work or even on the street and see people looking grumpry or just beat down and I smile and then they smile back. I get a lot of happiness out of that.
    Also, I donate money monthly to Donors Choose – an organization that lets you pick classroom projects to donate money directly to the techer. They put out their project idea, the cost, and reason behind needing it and you choose which one you want to support. It’s pretty awesome, but I love getting the thank-you cards in the mail, which usually come months later when I’ve forgotten about it. My favorite was getting a whole classroom outfitted with ukeleles so they could learn music. It’s been great seeing pics and getting updates from the teacher, and I remember that and get more happiness thinking about that more than any instrument I’ve ever bought myself.

    1. Smiles are powerful, Mr. SSC! Nothing wrong with that, and they often do work to get people out of their funk. And that’s a very cool charitable cause, too. I hadn’t heard of that one. Good find!

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