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By Eric Barker
February 12, 2015
IDEAS
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Another paper from Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert (author of the bestseller Stumbling on Happiness) spells out 8 ways we can spend our money to increase happiness:

1) “Buy more experiences and fewer material goods.”

This means more amusement parks and vacations. Fewer cars and new TV’s:

Why? We quickly take material goods for granted. Research shows this happens more slowly with experiences. Also, we anticipate and remember experiences more, savoring them for longer and squeezing more enjoyment from them.

2) “Use their money to benefit others rather than themselves”

Yup, giving is better than receiving:

And:

And:

Why? Giving improves social relationships and our relationships are key to happiness. Giving makes us feel the relationships will continue, which bolsters well-being.

3) “Buy many small pleasures rather than fewer large ones”

When it comes to happiness, frequency beats intensity:

Why? One reason is that we’re less likely to adapt and take for granted all these little things regularly affecting us than we are the one, big rare event:

4) “Eschew extended warranties and other forms of overpriced insurance”

Research shows we deal with bad events much more effectively than we think. Often we buy insurance to make us feel better, not because we couldn’t actually afford to replace the item.

Warranties are acknowledged to be a poor investment:

5) “Delay consumption”

Anticipating pleasure can sometimes be more enjoyable than the event itself. By delaying good things we increase happiness:

6) “Consider how peripheral features of their purchases may affect their day-to-day lives”

The farther things are in the future, the more abstractly we view them. Buying a summer cottage seems great — because at a distance we don’t think about repairs, a leaky roof, and mosquitoes.

We do better when we consider how our purchases will affect our future use of time and our day-to-day lives:

7) “Beware of comparison shopping”

Looking at lots of different options can mislead us as to the importance of various features. We end up thinking small differences may have a big impact when the truth is that most of the options will end up having no difference in our enjoyment of the item six months from now:

8) “Pay close attention to the happiness of others.”

You’re not the unique snowflake you think you are. Popular things are often popular for a reason and we do ourselves a disservice by ignoring what brings others pleasure because, very likely, we may enjoy it too:

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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