The events of the past year have caused all of us to step back and see the world with new eyes. What we once took for granted are no longer. Practices of commuting and eating out gave way to Zoom calls and take-out. As we again find our footing in a post-pandemic world, the invitation is to revisit those assumptions with which we have built our lives.
Consider the role of money and happiness. If money is said to buy happiness, then why do we often feel worse when we make more? Professors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton say the negativity is the result of not spending our money in the right way. Their 2014 book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, challenges a number of common misconceptions about how our money translates into happiness. Their wisdom is particularly relevant today.
As an example, Dunn and Norton challenge the notion that intuition alone will tell what type of spending makes us happy. Instead, the suggestion is for a more structured decision-making process to lead to a higher level of happiness. Consider the following when cultivating your own happiness:
The brand new car or television may bring you joy right now, but the lasting joy from family vacations, concerts, working out, and even dog walking will prevail long after the novelty of a shiny new TV wears off.
Ask yourself the following before making that next big-ticket purchase: (a) Will it brings me together with others? (b) Will it give me a great story to share down the road? (c) Is this a unique experience for me? (d) Is this experience in line with who I am and want to be?
Sometimes we get so caught up in the immediacy of work and wealth that we don’t enjoy the results of our labor. Consider taking time to pause, do things you enjoy, and don’t designate all your time to making or saving more. Additionally, designate money to outsource those things you don’t want to do – e.g., cleaning your house, bookkeeping, rebalancing a portfolio – and instead take time to focus on what excites you and keeps you healthy.
Make it a treat
Try to limit those things you love. “If abundance is the enemy of appreciation, scarcity may be our best ally,” according to Dunn and Norton. Maybe make that latte every Tuesday, instead of every day. Okay – Tuesdays and Thursdays. And maybe Saturdays – but that’s it!
Waiting is often the best part
Do not discount the value of anticipation. Surprises may be nice, yet knowing your children will be coming over gives great value long before the visit occurs. Similarly, buying a vacation ahead of time gives pleasure ahead of the actual event.
Invest in others
It’s perfectly fine to treat yourself. Yet on average, more people feel better about their lives when spending money on other people. In one study, researchers found that asking people to spend as little as $5 a day on someone else provides more happiness over the course of a day than spending that same $5 on themselves. The closer you feel to the person, the greater the impact of your giving.
At Pacific Asset Management, clients are given the opportunity to Chart Their Course, which brings an inquiring mind to decisions surrounding wealth and legacy. Instead of right or wrong, yes or no, we get to the “why?” of what’s important to clients and their loved ones. In an environment completely void of judgment, we discuss real questions and find real answers. Clients leave behind the restrictive notions of what others have said they “should” do, and instead are freed to explore the wide-open space of choosing what they want their life to be. We are here to help you cultivate your own happiness. Contact us now to start a conversation.