5 Ways to Buy Happiness

Ah, the elusive pursuit of happiness. According to an article in the July 2011 issue of Entrepreneur magazine, researchers believe 40% of happiness is genetic, 40% is derived from things we choose to do, and the remainder results from circumstances in our lives – such as our age, gender, and yes, our wealth.

Wealth may make you happy. It may make you unhappy. But more importantly, a second group of researchers suggest it’s how you spend your wealth that will really influence how happy you are. Here are their 5 principles for increasing your happiness through monetary means.

1) Buy more experiences and fewer things.

Earlier this summer I was in Vienna, Austria, spending a few hours window-shopping in an outdoor promenade. The setting was idyllic, cobblestone streets lined by old churches and beautiful concert halls.

In one window I came across a fancy watch with a relatively substantial price tag. For the next 36 hours I thought about buying the watch, but ultimately decided to pass, because I knew my buyer’s remorse would outweigh any pleasure the watch would give me.

Days later I knew I made the right decision.

What really mattered to me was simply BEING in Vienna and enjoying the city, having breakfast outside at a café watching the tourists – and beautiful European girls – go by. The trip itself brought me the lifelong memory while my interest in that watch has rapidly faded with time.

2) Use your money to help others.

My charity of choice, if you can call it that, is www.Kiva.org. Kiva allows me to loan money to entrepreneurs all over the world. The loan is paid back over time and then I re-loan the money to another entrepreneur. This gives me a great deal of satisfaction. May your charity of choice do the same for you.

3) Buy many small pleasures instead of a handful of large ones.

I once dated a beautiful girl and often bought her clothes and jewelry. One day, as a surprise, I bought her a simple $10 hairband. Out of all of the gifts I ever gave her, nothing made her happier than this small item. It’s the small things in life that matter. I’m willing to bet you can make your someone special very happy for $10 or less tonight.

4) Pay now but consume later.

According to JD Roth, the author of the original article in Entrepreneur magazine, in addition to helping you stay out of debt, this method makes us happier because it builds anticipation (which the researchers say is pleasurable in and of itself). We also tend to make smarter choices when we pay now and consume later.

5) Beware of comparison shopping.

One of the reasons I didn’t buy that watch in Vienna was the sheer number of other watches in the same window and among all of the other jewelry store windows on that street. I knew that after I bought the watch I’d find another that I liked even more. The solution to avoiding this comparison shopping syndrome is simple. “Find a good option, go with it and don’t look back,” says Roth.

Today we’re publishing a time-tested article (written in 2008) from Steve Sjuggerud on how to have more daily wealth. This isn’t about investing or stock-picking, but rather about the small things we can value immediately that give us greater daily wealth, gratitude, happiness, or whatever you would like to call it.

Craig Ballantyne

“Cherish time, your most valuable resource. You can never make up the time you lose. It’s the most important value for any productive happy individual and is the only limitation to all accomplishment. To waste time is to waste your life. The most important choices you’ll ever make are how you use your time.” – Kekich Credo #2