Monday, 12 August 2013

Can happiness be bought, and how much does it cost?

Finally. Sunny days have arrived. People everywhere are wearing less and smiling more. A bit of sunshine certainly does wonders for our happiness. But what does money do for our happiness levels? 

Does money make you happy?
Generally, the research shows that - above a certain level of income - having more money doesn’t make people any happier. Having more friends and better relationships does. But there is a link between financial health and mental wellbeing.
And a lack of money often causes unhappiness. 
So can we spend money in a way that will boost our happiness levels? 
It seems that we can, in these ways:
  •      Spend money on experiences rather than material goods and you’ll be smiling more. Happy times leave positive memory traces that we can call up when we’re feeling down; they also connect us to other people which is critical to our happiness. Just going outside for 20 minutes a day has been shown to boost positive mood.
  •      Spend money on other people and you’ll feel happier. Yes, even happier than if you spent it on yourself. Treating a friend to breakfast at a local brasserie and having a good chat will bring more joy than another pair of shoes. Being more socially involved has been shown to be worth up to £85,000 extra income. Or spend money on a stranger by paying it forward and see how good that feels.
  •      Spend money now that will bring future returns. Most people consume now and pay later. Pay now, consume later and life will seem a whole lot better, spiced up with the anticipation of the joy to come. The brain releases happy chemicals when we are anticipating happy times ahead so max out on lots of those. Even if you can't afford a holiday, just planning a break from work will make you feel happier.
  •        Spend on things you love now and again. If something is a special treat rather than part of the fabric of your life, you’ll feel happier if you indulge yourself occasionally. We all like a little luxury now and again.
  •             Spend money in ways that brings you more quality time. If your precious spare time is spent cleaning the house, spend money on a cleaner not on a better car. Big house, long commute? A shorter commute and smaller house could be the answer.Or just consider getting rid of your TV and instantly giving yourself more time.

COMING LATER THIS YEAR: In conjunction with Action for Happiness we at Do Something Different are launching a Do Happiness programme, an online programme to boost and spread happiness. Watch this space for more info!