Continuing our theme of what science says about money, let’s turn to one of our favorite well-being scientists: Sonja Lyubomirsky.
In her great book The Myths of Happiness, Sonja tells us that one of the big myths to our happiness is the idea that having a ton of money will make us happy. In fact, she says we run the risk of catching the “affluenza virus” if we excessively pursue the bling.
Specifically, she says: “Why are materialistic tendencies important to identify? A mountain of research has shown that materialism depletes happiness, threatens satisfaction with our relationships, harms the environment, renders us less friendly, likable, and empathetic, and makes us less likely to help others and contribute to our communities.”
Alright. You’ve got my attention, Dr. Lyubomirsky.
So… What can we do to Optimize our relationship to money?
Sonja gives us four practical tips:
1. First, spend less money on “stuff” — you’ll hedonically adapt to that — and more of your money on experiences and “on developing ourselves as people, on growing, and on investing in interpersonal connections.”
2. Spend money on others not yourself. Fascinating research here. If you give people $20 and have them spend it on themselves they’ll be less happy than if they spend it on others.
3. Spend money to give you time. As we’ve discussed, TIME affluence is a much better predictor of happiness than financial affluence. So, use your money to buy time for yourself to do meaningful stuff.
4. Spend money now but wait to enjoy it. There’s a ton of happiness in the ANTICIPATION of something. So, for example, book a trip for 6 months from now then look forward to it the whole time, enjoy it, then savor it. (Buy 1 get 2 free!)
1 + 2 + 3 + 4.
Today’s +1. It’s time for your affluenza shot!
How can you practice one of those principles today?!