Money should make you happy. At least, it should if you’re spending it right.
That’s the argument put forth by University of B.C. psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn. In a paper co-authored by two world-renowned experts on happiness, Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University and Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia, Dunn argues that most people are terrible at predicting what will make them happy, leading them to routinely spend money on all the wrong things.
“Money is an opportunity for happiness, but it is an opportunity that people routinely squander because the things they think will make them happy often don’t,” writes Dunn and her colleagues.
For decades, researchers have known that money buys happiness, but only up to a point.
Research shows that wealthy people are not significantly happier than those with moderate incomes — and according to conventional wisdom, that’s because many of the things that make us happy aren’t for sale.
Dunn and her co-authors of the paper, “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right” — to be published in the upcoming Journal of Consumer Psychology — adamantly disagree with that assertion.
They boldly suggest that if you spend wisely, “money can buy many, if not most, if not all of the things that make people happy.”
Drawing on their research, The Province presents 10 ways to better spend your money.
1. Buy many small lovely things rather than one big one
Go ahead, buy yourself that $4 latte.
Ever had an economist tell you how easily a $4 latte at work every morning will quickly add up to a staggering yearly sum of $1,040? And wouldn’t you rather spend that kind of money on something bigger, like a vacation or home theatre system? Well, the answer may be no.
It may well be that a latte a day, or every few days, will make you happier than a single big-ticket item once a year.
“This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with large purchases,” writes Dunn. “But as long as money is limited by its failure to grow on trees, we may be better off devoting our finite financial resources to purchasing frequent doses of lovely things rather than infrequent doses of lovelier things.”
One reason why small, frequent pleasures beats one large infrequent one is because we’re creatures of adaptation.
“If we buy an expensive dining room table… it’s pretty much the same table today as it was last week. Because frequent small pleasures are different each time they occur, they forestall adaptation,” says Dunn.
Research also tells us that breaking up a pleasurable experience into a series of experiences can help maximize joy, something frequent coffee drinker Eva Sajoo, of Vancouver, seems to understand innately.
“Certainly I get a lot of pleasure out of a very well-crafted cup of coffee,” she says. “But I think you enjoy it more if you don’t have it every day.”
2. Savor the cheap joys of life
Cozy up to a movie on a rainy day. Or go out for a walk on a bright summer’s day.
Not only are these simple pleasures often cheap, or better yet, free, but savouring the mundane joys of life will make you happier, according to research.
“In a study of Belgian adults, individuals who had a strong capacity to savour the mundane joys of daily life were happier than those who did not,” writes Dunn.
Interestingly, the same study found this capacity to savour “mundane joys” was significantly reduced among wealthy individuals. That may be because the wealthy have unfettered access to “peak experiences,” which undermines their ability to appreciate smaller moments.
3. Practice ‘presence’ for an extra jolt of joy
Spending money on yoga retreats, meditation DVDs or self-help books isn’t just for hippies or the spiritually inclined.
Scientific research is now also extolling the benefits of becoming more “present” or “engaged” — which activities such as yoga are said to help you achieve.
Researchers have found that people who are more fully engaged in an experience will get more enjoyment from it.
“A wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” Dunn and colleagues sum up succinctly.
Vancouver yoga teacher Jacci Collins says she’s experienced firsthand the positive effects of presence.
“I use not only my physical practice of yoga, but my meditation practice as a way of just trying to bring me back into my life, because sometimes, life just spins out of control and the days are going by so quickly. And when you’re aware of what you’re doing at every moment, somehow you have more appreciation for every moment,” says Collins.
4. Buy experiences, not things
Follow in the footsteps of 19,000 screaming teens who spent $60 on a Justin Bieber concert last week, rather than squandering it at the mall. That’s right, these 19,000 “Bielebers” were made happier simply by spending their money on an experience rather than a thing.
If happiness can be bought, then it’s essential to get the buying right, according to Dunn and colleagues.
“Experiences are good, but why are they better than things? One reason is that we adapt to things so quickly. After devoting days to selecting the perfect hardwood floor to install in a new condo, homebuyers find their once beloved Brazilian cherry floors quickly become nothing more than the unnoticed ground beneath their feet,” writes Dunn. “In contrast, their memory of seeing a baby cheetah at dawn on an African safari continues to provide delight.”
Mark Holder, associate professor of psychology at the University of B.C. Okanagan and a happiness expert, adds that the difference in happiness gained from a material object versus an experience is most acute after two weeks.
“When we spend, we don’t tend to savour our big screen TVs, but we do tend to savour our experiences with others. We relive them through photographs, for example, we relive them by telling stories and by reliving, those people are happier,” says Holder.
5. Spend on others, not yourself
Next time you think of buying something for yourself, buy it for a friend instead. Spending on others will make you happier, not only because it makes you look good (thereby boosting your mood), but because spending on others is a legitimate way to improve our connections with others, according to Dunn.
While this advice may seem to make sense, especially in light of how often we’re reminded that “giving is receiving,” it’s surprising how many people disbelieve it, says Lara Aknin, a graduate student working with Dunn.
A 2008 survey of more than 100 UBC students conducted by Aknin found that a significant majority of students believed money spent on themselves would make them happier than if it were spent on others.
“There’s this disconnect between what people believe will make them happy and what actually does,” says Aknin. “People aren’t that good at making good predictions because their look-ahead is plagued by all these errors, and we forget that when we look into the future we’re not going to be in the exact same state that we are now.”
6. Buy less insurance
Next time you’re asked if you want to buy a warranty, say no. Businesses have long capitalized on our tendency to underestimate how well we cope with traumas, tragedies or just plain old bad luck. By offering an insurance against “unhappiness” from extended warranties to insurance policies, we’re actually spending more than we need to guard against negative situations.
Dunn explains that just as we have a physical immune system to ward off disease, our psychological immune system has a remarkable ability to reconstruct and rationalize a negative situation into a positive one: “Ordinary people are remarkably adept at re-construing events in order to avoid self-blame and the regret that accompanies it.”
7. Delay, delay, delay consumption
Don’t be tempted by those optimistic sales campaigns that proclaim “No money down!” or “Don’t pay for six months.”
If you wait till you have the cash to purchase the product or service, you’ll get an extra jolt of happiness, says Dunn.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that the “consume now, pay later” mentality leads people to short-sighted behaviour, such as racking up debts or saving little for retirement — decisions that can ruin lives, argues Dunn.
But another, less obvious reason why delayed consumption leads to more happiness is because “anticipation is a source of ‘free’ happiness.”
“Research shows people can reap substantial enjoyment from anticipation of an upcoming event even if the event itself is not entirely enjoyable,” according to Dunn.
8. Happiness is in the details
Who hasn’t dreamt of owning a vacation home — say, a waterfront cabin or ski chalet? Well, those dream homes may be more of a mirage in a desert.
Humans are adept at imagining, but tend to skip over the details, seeing the future in “simple, high-level ways,” argues Dunn.
That means while we’re picturing the glassy waters of a lakeside retreat, finer details like calls about a plumbing disaster, or long drives home after the vacation, or the constant buzz of mosquitoes while you’re enjoying your glass of wine tend to recede in the background.
“Consumers who expect a single purchases to have a lasting impact on their happiness might make more realistic predictions if they simply thought about a typical day in their life,” Dunn advises.
9. Don’t shop around
Save your time and refrain from comparison shopping. Recent research suggests that comparison shopping may distract consumers from the attributes that will make them happiest, by making them focusing on the differences between available options.
Dunn gives the familiar example of shopping for real estate, in which would-be buyers typically attend countless open houses and viewings and scrutinize spec sheets for features and information on each home.
“As a result, home buyers might overestimate the hedonic consequences of living in a big, beautiful house in a great location vs. a more modest home, leading them to take out a larger loan than they can truly afford, ” argues Dunn.
The same process may also lead consumers to seek out products that provide the “best deal,” which is not always the product that makes them happiest.
10. Follow the herd
Can’t decide which book to read? Movie to watch? Next vacation? The easiest way to get promising “happiness” results is to follow the herd.
“Research suggests that the best way to predict how much we will enjoy an experience is to see how much someone else enjoyed it,” explains Dunn.
So chances are, summer blockbusters are as likely to bring us as much joy as they did the thousands of other people who’ve seen them.
A 2009 study drives home the point: Women were asked to predict how much they would enjoy a speed date with a particular man. Some women were shown his photo and autobiography. A second group were shown only the rating of how much other women enjoyed the date.
Think the vast majority of women shown the photo and autobiography would make a more accurate prediction? The opposite proved true.
By Lena Sin/ Source: The Province
How One Small Step Back Backwards Is One Giant Leap Forwards
For me, this conjures up a scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail where the king is explaining about how he built his castle on a swamp, each castle sank into the swamp until the fourth one stood firm.
It’s so incredibly important to have solid foundations on which to build your life or business. There are times though where we think we have a rock-solid foundation and ignore the holes forming in it. Just like we think we’re invincible and nothing can hurt us or affect us, we think our foundations are too.
There are times when we need to fix those holes and cracks but that means taking a step backwards and many see it as a weakness. Their ego will tell them they’re going in the wrong direction. Their ego will tell them they’re letting themselves down and they’ve become as weak as a little field mouse. I disagree though. I see the act of taking a step backwards to be one of the strongest and most powerful things we can do!
We begin these journeys whether in life or in business with big plans. We’re excited, our emotions are running high and just like a kid on Christmas day, we forget about most things because our focus is on the prize (or the presents). Maybe we forget to put the battery door back onto one of our gifts properly.
At first, everything is amazing. We spend hours playing with the new toy, it seems like only surgery will remove the smile from our face. Then it happens, the toy stops working because the batteries have fallen out (remember the door?), the smile weakens, the tears begin, the special day is filled with wails of sadness. All because you’d missed something at the beginning.
“When things go wrong, go back to the basics” –Urvi Mistry
Tame our ego
One of the most powerful things that stop us taking that step backwards is our ego. It would be like asking a NASA rocket scientist if they would like to read “Rocket Science for Dummies”, they just wouldn’t do it because they would see it as belittling their existing knowledge. I’ll be honest, I would have felt the same if someone had handed me an “Archery for Dummies” book just as I’d won my second British championship title.
These are the times when we have to suspend our ego. It can be difficult and many times we have to force ourselves to do it, but when we do we massively grow. It’s like when we go to a workshop or conference. The speaker lineup is awesome, you’re excited to see them. The event begins, the house lights dim and the stage is spotlit.
The first speaker comes on stage, begins talking and your first thoughts are “But I already know that”. The mental walls shoot up and you miss all of the golden nuggets available because your ego shut off your mind to any new information.
This is exactly the same process that happens when someone suggests to us that maybe we should take a few steps backwards to strengthen our foundation. The mental walls go up and our mind goes into lockdown. It’s like sticking fingers in our ears and loudly shouting “La La La La La La” so we don’t hear someone saying things.
So what can you do?
The first step is to slap your ego around the face with a wet trout. Your ego is used to being in control so doing something to disrupt that situation gives your conscious mind the control back long enough to jump in and begin reasoning and questioning the situation.
Start asking yourself “What do I REALLY need to do to fix things?”. The solution won’t be to stick a band-aid on, it’s to fix the core issues which can be anything from lack of systems/procedures, lack of academic knowledge or lack of experience. All of these fall into the realms of your foundations and that’s where your focus should be.
All too often we complicate things to the point where we stop seeing the solution. To stop your pizza from sticking to the box lid, you wouldn’t start to develop a non-stick cardboard coating so the cheese doesn’t stick to the lid when it gets dumped around by the delivery driver. You’d keep it simple and put the little plastic thing in the centre of the pizza instead.
“It’s very satisfying to take a problem we thought difficult and find a simple solution. The best solutions are always simple.” – Ivan Sutherland
When we complicate things, not only do we lose sight of the end goal, but we forget about the simple solutions. Those simple solutions reside in the realm of the basic, that place you get to when you take this valuable but sometimes difficult steps backwards. Yes, it’s going to be hard at first, yes it’s going to give you those feelings of failure and going back to school, but believe me when I tell you they will be the best, strongest and most powerful steps you take, on a par with Neil Armstrong’s small step for man.
2 Simple Steps to Help You Break Through Your Fears
If you are addicted to success you most certainly are addicted to fear too. Why? Because they are a direct consequence of each other. When you achieve success, it’s because you have taken actions and broken through fears that were holding you back. Every success you have comes from breaking a fear you held onto.
It is incredible to think how much energy and time entrepreneurs waste looking after their fears, making sure they are listened to. It is much harder to feed the energy of fear than feed the energy of success. I want you to think about the mental dilemma you face every single day, the battle you will probably have in your mind when it comes to taking certain actions in your business.
Shall I take that risk?
What if I’m rejected? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’ll be ridiculed in front of others? What if I fail? Just think of how hard it is to constantly listen and obey these thoughts.
The battle in your head is real and challenging. The good thing is you can win it, and the bad thing is there will always be a battle going on in your head. However, you can become a more consistent winner.
Success will always require a new level of expansion which will result in a new level of fears needed to be broken. Imagine this like an elastic band. Every time you face a fear, the elastic will stretch more and more, and the tension will be greater. When you become brave and take the action, the tension will be released and the elastic band will fly further creating a bigger expansion.
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Fears are normal and essentials to your success
If there are no fears, there’ll be no stretch and no expansion from you. If you want to succeed, you must break through some fears, and this is obvious. But how can you break through fears with ease? I personally used all the possible solutions available in the world to win my fears: meditation, counseling, talking therapies, exercises and many more.
Although those helped, the ultimate way to conquer your fears is to go straight through them. I won some of my biggest fears since starting my entrepreneurial journey that no one else and nothing could help me break. This seems better said than done, but by following a few simple steps, you can do it too.
Here are 2 simple steps to help you breakthrough those fears:
1. Becoming aware of what your fears are
Often they’re very well camouflaged, and they’ll appear in your life as if on autopilot, in the same way electricity comes when you flip a light switch. They’re often triggered by someone else’s actions or words, or by your idea on what the consequence of a certain action will bring to you.
Fears contain so much energy on their own, so imagine what you could do with that energy if you could use it to your advantage. Imagine fear being a close wrist. Every time you activate the fear, you give more energy to it. Every time you think of the fear, you feed the wrist with more power.
As you live your life controlled by fears, the wrists will get more and more powerful. Picture that. Then you try to take certain actions in your business like going live for the first time, proposing a deal to a certain client, writing an article where you express your very own controversial opinion about something, or invest money you currently do not have.
Fears will come in, fully charged. You try to win by punching towards the wall of action. You want to break through, and you know that on the other side of the wall there’s success.
You punch and keep punching but nothing happens. Then, imagine you taking the leap, pointing the wrist towards the wall and BANG! You break through.
Now, the energy of fear has been released and is now ready to be used to your advantage.
The energy will disperse and free itself and it will transmute into freedom and power to take further actions.
“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn
2. Figure out why you fear that certain thing
After you realise what the fear is, ask yourself, “Why do I fear to take this action?” Explore the consequences that breaking that specific fear will bring you. “What will happen if I break this and I achieve the results I desire?
These questions are vital, as you’ll realize your fears are just trying to keep you safe. Humans are not wired for success, they are wired for survival. So anything to do with success will be filtered through your lens of fear.
Once you realize WHAT will happen if you achieve the success you desire, which usually are negative scenarios, calm your mind and imagine a positive scenario instead. Write this down for each negative scenario your mind will create.
One of my biggest fears is the fear of being successful as I believe (my scenario) that people won’t like me anymore, and that I won’t be able to spend time with my family. So once I detected the fear, I changed the scenario. Instead of thinking people will not like me anymore, I create a new reality I desire which could look something like this: I will be able to help and impact more people and I will make sure I take lots of days off and delegate stuff to my team so to spend time with my family.
It is that simple. Once your subconscious mind is reassured with the new positive outcome, it will become easier for you to take action. In the end, always remember you’re in charge of your life, no one else, let alone your fears.
How do you conquer your fears? Let us know your advice and thoughts below!
Being Alone With Yourself Is the Most Important Skill We Have Lost
We live in a world where we’re always around people either at work, in the store, and on our phones through social media. In fact, our society tends to label anybody who wants to be or is alone, as a lonely person or even more terribly, a depressed person. We have forgotten how to enjoy our own company.
This is particularly surprising since some of the admired and highly celebrated icons in human history are well known to be “loners.” We have mastered a lot of skills from society, but perhaps we have neglected the most important skill of all. The ability to learn alone, to learn about your strengths and weaknesses, to reflect on the way forward in life, to just sit and appreciate nature, is invaluable.
Here are 4 ways to make being alone fun and productive:
1. Change scenery
You don’t have to do this all the time, but one way to enjoy your time alone is to take a trip or a very long drive or run. It can be difficult to spend time alone when you’re around familiar faces. It’s one of the reasons why people go on vacations away from home. Just get out and spend some time alone reflecting and enjoying your own company.
2. Switch off everything
We live in a world of digital communication. If you truly want to be alone for a while, it would be better if you didn’t login to Facebook and Twitter at all. Better yet, turn off your phone.
Now that you are alone, it is time to reflect on what you want, what you have done, what you want to be doing. Silence or cool music might be good here. Whichever way, one of the things that make being alone rewarding is the fact that it affords you the opportunity to reflect.
“I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward. I reflect with a purpose.” – Kobe Bryant
4. Give yourself a treat
Go see a movie, buy a plate of food or a cup of ice-cream. Being alone is not only a time to think, it is also a time to pamper yourself. Treat yourself to the best things that you can afford and be happy and proud about it.
Now that you know how to make being alone fun and productive, it’s time to see the benefits of being alone. Here are 6 benefits you can expect from embracing being alone:
1. It aids personal growth
Apart from all the skills we get from self-development books, being alone helps build us. Through it, we are able to make plans, to ask critical questions and put our lives in the proper perspective. To grow, it is important that you take yourself out and properly assess your life alone, away from friends, families and colleagues.
2. It energizes
There are times when we’re stressed out by work, family, and friends, so being alone is a wonderful way to renew yourself with extra energy. This is the time to give yourself treats and plenty of rest and leisure, away from the stress of the world.
3. It increases the value you place on relationship
When you come to a point where you love being alone, it makes it so that you’re very intentional about your relationship with others. Being alone can also help you properly evaluate and see all there is to love and enjoy about your relationship with others.
4. It increases self-confidence
Another wonderful benefit of being alone is that it helps to boost your self- confidence and self esteem. The more time you spend alone with yourself, the more comfortable you are with your skill and with your strengths and weaknesses.
“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan
5. It helps you become more empathetic
One thing about having friends and those we relate with very often is that we unconsciously develop a mentality that makes us empathetic towards them rather than others. Findings have shown that the more time you spend alone, the more compassion you’re able to show to a wider range of people.
6. The difference between being alone and being lonely
The desire to be alone is quite different from loneliness and sometimes, we do not take the required time to be alone because we don’t want to be perceived as “lonely” by others. To be lonely is to deeply want to relate and have communication with someone or some people but to be unable to.
It’s an ache that you carry around throughout the day, and it seriously affects all you do. It could make the entire world seem frustrating. The death of a loved one can lead to loneliness after a while.
Being alone on the other hand, as seen earlier, is intentionally deciding to get away from everybody and enjoying being with yourself as you reflect on your life and all that’s to come.
Taking time to be alone is very productive and it can be a wonderful thing for you. Take time away from social media and friends and find a nice spot to relax with yourself and analyze your habits and see how they affect your life.
Do you enjoy spending time by yourself? Share your thoughts below on if you think it benefits you and helps you recharge!
Simple Meditation Techniques To Enhance Your Productivity
At times, the workplace can be a stressful place to be. Whether you are faced with demanding clients, even more demanding colleagues, or just the incessant activity of the environment itself, the workplace can at times feel like it is exerting a pressure down upon your shoulders that is difficult to extricate yourself from.
Not only is this unhealthy and detrimental to your wellbeing, it is also highly counterproductive for your organization. A stressed or unhappy employee is, for the most part, an unproductive employee who you do not necessarily want interacting with valuable clients, while its difficult to forge fruitful relationships with co-workers.
However, with these easy-to-use techniques, you can help turn your business space into an oasis of calm, boosting your work productivity at the same time.
It may be that you want to invoke some form of meditative state, but the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself from wide-eyed colleagues. If this sounds like you, then there are a number of at-desk meditations you can perform which will not only assist in destressing and boosting performance, but will do so without attracting unwelcome glances.
Here are a few of the most easy to use:
1. Tap your fingers to the rhythm of time
Put both of your hands on your thighs or on your desk, and proceed to start tapping each finger individually, starting with your pinky finger. It is important that you use a sequence, and time it effectively to a slow rhythm. The last part is to then recite a five-word mantra that relates to time.
There is an infinity of options here, but you could go with ‘I do have enough time’ or ‘Time is my best friend’. The idea is to create a zen-like state where you are breathing regularly and focussing on the small activity at hand (literally). Continue until your breathing has become regular and the repeated-mantra has eased though you to your core.
This is an immensely achievable meditative process that I love to utilize in any number of situations because it is so private.
“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Shake it off
Now is the time to focus on exactly what or who is causing your stress. Take some time out, sit quietly on your chair, and take a few deep breaths while you think about the origin of your stress. Next, start to recite to yourself a mantra along the lines of ‘It’s OK and I can move on from this.’ Then, start to take a few deeper breaths and use the time you breathe out to really sigh away your frustration.
Finally, shake your body to release the tension from you. There is no need to make any deep noises or draw unwanted attention to yourself, but that really shouldn’t be a consideration anyway, and will only exacerbate your stress in the process. This is about breathing and release.
3. Eyes to the flame
If you are feeling a little braver, and you understand that an open flame will not cause any undue disquiet in the workplace around you (or that you are breaking any health and safety regulations), using a candle can be a wonderful tool to help create a meditative state. Start by switching off your computer. In fact, this is a good place to begin with any meditative activity as the glare from the screen will distract your attention.
Light the candle and then bring the flame towards your eye level, holding it approximately 20 inches away, or into a position that is comfortable. Then, stare into the flame for up to 2 minutes, remembering to breathe regularly as you do so.
“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama
Meditations for a private space
If you have access to a private space in the workplace, there are other types of meditative positions which you can undertake, including, lying on the floor. Lying down immediately helps to put you in an unfamiliar position for work, which is helpful in itself, but a familiar position for feeling comforted and relaxed.
Close your eyes and then once again, start to breathe in a rhythmic manner. It is essential that your breathing becomes your primary focus, so you breathe in and out with a deep concentration on what you are doing.
When starting out, five minutes is more than apt, as long as that’s five minutes of a concentrated nature. You can then start to push out those times, and there is no reason why before long you shouldn’t be able to manage 20 minutes of perfect meditative calm. This can easily be done during a lunch break or even a mid-morning break.
There are also walking meditations for more adventurous types, which involves focusing on your steps and breaths simultaneously, concentrating always on a forward motion, both literally and figuratively. Emotional calmness and wellbeing in the workplace is just around the corner.
Have you tried meditation? If so, do you like it? Let us know your thoughts about meditation below!
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