I have been reading a lot about happiness lately, which has helped me challenge some beliefs while reinforcing others.
The biggest one among them being about money! Money — believe it or not — can make you happy!
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out!
Money comes with a lot of benefits, the most important or obvious of those being — You don’t have to worry about money! It not only satisfies your basic need, it also stands for things we feel are lacking — if only we had money, we would be generous, or kind or respected.
It is a way to earn recognition, acquire material possessions, live a healthier life, practice generosity and pursue hobbies — which is where I believe money can actually buy happiness!
Can money alone buy happiness — no. But, if used wisely, money can be an immense source of your happiness. It depends a lot on what kind of a person you are and how you spend your money.
Money is a negative indicator, in that the lack of money is the source of a lot more anxiety and stress than the happiness that you get from its presence! Just like being healthy is no assurance of your joy, money also will not guarantee happiness. However, just like your good health can impact your happiness, so does all that cash lying around in your bank account!
The only way money can boost your happiness is if it is mindfully spent. So here are some ways to use money to buy happiness
1. Pursuing a hobby
Whether it is traveling, reading books or collecting sneakers — whatever your hobby is, I am sure it brings you immense joy when you get your hands on a book that you have been meaning to get your hands on or a new addition to your sneaker collection!
2. Providing for loved ones
Money spent buying food, paying for rent, being able to buy toys for your kid or event helping out a family member in need is always very gratifying.
If you don’t agree, imagine not having money to put food on the table or having to make excuses to your kid for not being able to buy them the toy they need.
3. Indulging in self-care
When have you ever felt bad after taking a massage or getting yourself cleaned up? Isn’t it easy to let go of all the stress while you indulge in some self care. The outside world ceases to exist for that couple of hours you spend in the spa.
4. Mastering a new skill
Mastering a new skill gives us a sense of growth! It puts us in this flow state that makes us lose track of time and our worries. Whether it is learning a new instrument, investing in stocks or sketching, getting better at it leads to increased self confidence which then boosts your happiness.
5. Giving thoughtful gifts
I love this one because I have first hand seen the effects of this! The delight on the face of the recipient is priceless and it gives both of us memories of a lifetime!
Research shows that an unexpected present or being surprised is a real booster for people! This is equivalent to you finding a thank you note left on your desk by some grateful colleague or you discovering some money in pockets of an old pair of pants!
More importantly, these are the moments and the stories that people tell wherever they go.
6. Paying for convenience
This one is a bit tricky because different people find different things as convenient. I might not see the value in paying for a personal trainer but someone else absolutely loves the convenience of not having to worry about what kind of workout to do today.
Automatic cars, air conditioner, financial advisor, cook, babysitter, washing machine, a butler are all examples of convenience that money can buy! If you can afford it and if that gives you mental peace, then why not use the money to buy you some mental peace and hence some happiness?
7. Celebrating traditions, milestones and events
Whether it is a birthday or an anniversary or even a promotion, celebrating it needs money and money spent on celebrating is well spent as it helps you mark an occasion in a grand way.
It is a way to reward yourself for all the hard work that you have been putting in!
8. Donating to your favorite charity
Having money allows you to be charitable! Look at Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet! They can give back because they have enough to! And that is one way of spending money to buy some happiness!
Research proves that people who give to charity are happier and tend to receive more in return! You would find it hard to give if you were struggling to make ends meet in the first place! Giving is only possible when you have enough to exercise generosity.
9. Strengthening your relationships
Relationships are the only true currency in life! A good life is brimming with strong relationships! And relationships are costly! Among other things, you do need money to be able to keep the relationship going — whether it is by traveling together or buying your parents a ticket to come see you or flying to see your loved ones.
Good relationships are extremely gratifying and as this longest running Harvard University study found — over a lifetime, they are the one critical key to your happiness!
Using money to buy happiness can quickly get you on the hedonic treadmill. As Gretchen Rubin found out during her happiness project:
“If money is to enhance your happiness, it must be used to support aspects of life that themselves bring happiness to you”
Whether that means getting your home repaired or buying a knife set for $200 or hiring an organizer to help you clean up your attic! If it brings you joy, then the money is well spent and has indeed helped you procure happiness.