Whether or not money can buy happiness has been argued over and over in the time past and money not being a source of happiness always win the debate. According to Nobel-price winning economist, Daniel Kanheman, you do not need beyond an annual income of $75,000 (almost Kshs. 6.3 million), which should more than enough to fund a comfortable lifestyle, to make you happy. The school of thought that money can not buy happiness is dependent on the hedonic adaptation theory. According to this theory, human brain only adjusts to what it senses; what’s new today becomes old tomorrow and so the same applies with the material things you buy with money. The thrill you get from the new phone or television you just got wears out as you get used to it. So, what is the use of the things acquired with money if they can provide a lasting feeling of satisfaction, excitement as the first time, argued some psychologists.
Well, according to a recent study published in a book written by Elizabeth Dun; an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and Michael Norton; an associate professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School titled “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending”, money can buy you happiness. According to the writers, the key to having a long term happiness from the thing you purchase with your money is shifting the attention from buying stuff to experience and from spending on yourself to spending on others. These are the five principles, in summary, to buying happiness:
- BUY EXPERIENCE: rather than concerning yourself with buying the latest car, latest gadget and all those material things, why not put that money into an experience that brings a long lasting experience as you talk about it or remember. It doesn’t even have to extravagant, just fun. Experiences have a way of making us laugh even long after it has happened. Take a family vacation or go out with your friends of colleagues. According to Dunn and Norton, experience provides more happiness than material goods in part because experiences are more likely to make us feel connected your others.
- MAKE IT A SPECIAL TREAT: According to the authors, abundance is the enemy of appreciation. The sad reality of human experience in general is that the more we are exposed to something, the more it’s impact diminishes. In a simpler language, we tend to abuse what we are too familiar with. So when spoiling yourself with experiences or anything at all, do not overdo it.
- BUY TIME: one of the things human beings don’t have in abundance is time. We always need more time to do one thing or the other. In order to have more time to do what you need to do, use your money to purchase more time. How do you that? Simple. All you have to do is hire trustworthy people to do those things for you even better than you would have done it. Even if you can’t afford people, there are machines to make work easier and buy you more time. These machines add value to you, your work and help you produce more effective results. For example, using a land mower will save you a whole lot of time rather than using a cutlass. Buy time, buy more happiness.
- PAY NOW, CONSUME LATER: no one can deny that buying things and then paying paying later can be so much fun until the debtor comes knocking on your door and you don’t have the money to pay up. The pay now, consume later helps to cancel the credit system. Paying before you get the product, especially experience provides time from positive expectations t develop, says the authors. Paying for a trip beforehand helps you to enjoy the trip because you don’t have to worry about the cost. It will feel like an almost free vacation.
- INVEST IN OTHERS: the ultimate way to be happy with what you do with money is making someone smile. Invest in someone’s dream. The fact that you are part of someone’s success is enough reason to make you happy for a very long time. You don’t have to do something big, buying a much needed school textbook or paying transport fare is more than enough. According to Elizabeth and Michael’s research, even spending small amounts of money on others can make a big difference in your happiness level.
The five principles are fantastic because they focus on what you can do with the money you have and not about getting more money. No amount of money is too small to make you happy, what you do with the money, why you did that thing and who you did it for matter a lot if you want to use your money to buy happiness.
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