Having just paid my taxes, I got to thinking about how we spend money in this culture. It ends up there are some proven ways to spend money that make people happier. For example, when you spend money in ways that bring you shared enjoyable experiences with friends or family, it ends up you get a lot of “happiness bang” for your buck. It has also been shown that spending money on material possessions—like a nice car or house—has little effect on one’s level of happiness. Why is that?
Studies show that when we spend money on possessions, our level of happiness goes up—but only for a short period of time. We soon get used to the nice car or house, and it fails to bring us any new joy after a surprisingly short period of time. As an example, a friend of mine just spent a year and tens of thousands of dollars remodeling her house. When I asked her two months after the house was done if she was thrilled with the results, she said, “I hardly notice it anymore.”
Since we work hard to earn our money, it’s important to consider what is the best way to spend it in order to maximize our happiness. One approach to spending money to maximize happiness is to do what I call “investing in yourself.” Investing in yourself means spending a certain percentage of your income on improving your life’s skills and becoming a happier, healthier, and a more peaceful person. Since wherever you go, you take YOU with you, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re always improving on the YOU that is interacting with the world.
In my own life, investing in myself has made a huge difference. I used to be a depressed, shy, and suicidal teenager. Yet, at age sixteen, I decided to take 5% of whatever money I earned and use it to invest in myself. Over the years that has meant buying self improvement books, going to therapy, taking courses on meditation, going to workshops, and buying all kinds of health products. My life now is incredibly rich and blessed—largely because I am now a much more expanded person. By investing in myself and my skills over many years, I have now achieved a level of peace and happiness I could not have imagined before.
We are always making investments in our future. We plan vacations, buy possessions, pay for college for our kids, and invest in our health. But do you regularly invest in your continual improvement and ability to really enjoy your life? If not, then your life will likely be no better five years from now. Therefore, I encourage you to put aside a certain amount of money each month or each year just to improve your skills, expand your happiness, and invest in your ability to find true inner peace.
If you think I can be of any help in that endeavor—through therapy, coaching, or my “Deeper Happiness” course, I would be honored to be of service…