When Buying Happiness, Pay Up Front

Last week we learned that one of the best ways to buy happiness is to spend money on experiences rather than things. Today, I want to explore a trick to squeeze a little extra happiness out of those same purchases.

The trick is paying in advance for as much of your experience as you can.

This helps increase the happiness you get from your experience in a few ways. First, it separates the event itself from the pain of paying. Next, the anticipation and delayed gratification will make you happier. Finally, in looking forward to your experience, the uncertainty of what is to come will bring you some extra happiness, as well. Continue reading “When Buying Happiness, Pay Up Front”

How to Buy Happiness

I apologize in advance for the inherent humblebraginess of vacation pictures. I did warn you, though.

I am generally a pretty frugal person. Three of my last four posts have been about saving money. I’ve written about cognitive biases that get in the way of saving money. I’ve written about the best way to hit savings goals.

And yet, I just spent a whole bunch of money on a three-week vacation to South Africa and Spain. This came thirteen months after a trip to Peru. Which itself came eight months after a honeymoon in the Bahamas (which, to be fair, was paid for with hotel points).

The sun setting over the Atlantic from Cape Town

This may seem out of character or incongruent with my savings focus. But I don’t save money for the sake of saving money. I don’t intend to be the richest man in the cemetery. And while I would love to reach financial independence, I am not aiming to get there as soon as possible by any means necessary. Instead, I want to live my best (and happiest) life with as little waste as possible. Continue reading “How to Buy Happiness”

Happy Giving Tuesday!

You may have noticed that the last few days have been quite geared towards consumerism.

First, you had Black Friday, which in many places now actually starts on Thanksgiving.

Next came Small Business Saturday, which came about as a response to Black Friday intended to help smaller companies keep up with the big box stores.

And finally, yesterday, we had Cyber Monday, when the online retailers follow suit.

That’s quite a few days aimed directly at getting us to buy more things.

If you’re frustrated by the increasing consumerism and focus on buying stuff that has consumed the weekend after Thanksgiving, you are not alone. One group is trying to shift the focus from consumerism to charity. Continue reading “Happy Giving Tuesday!”

The Ancient Art of Being Thankful for What We Have

In looking into ways of dealing with disappointment we explored the Stoic practice of imagining the things that could go wrong in our lives. This is a great tool for helping us blunt the painful feeling of disappointment that accompanies loss.

However, this is not the only benefit to this practice.

Continue reading “The Ancient Art of Being Thankful for What We Have”

Dealing with Disappointment

There has been a lot of ink spilled discussing the results of the recent presidential election here in the States. I’m going to add to it today.

You can relax, though, because I will not be talking about politics directly.

Instead, I want to talk about dealing with loss and disappointment. Continue reading “Dealing with Disappointment”

Should You Give Meditation a Try?

Hello, friends! If you are an American reader, then happy election day! Please make sure you go out and vote today. I know that this election season has been long, draining, and often demoralizing, but sitting out the election is giving up your chance to weigh in on who should make and enforce the laws. These choices matter! Especially at the state and local level. Google “my ballot” and enter your address for a run down of every office and referendum that you get to vote on. Do your research. Vote. It really does matter.

Now on to your regularly scheduled programming:

I am a person who generally makes decisions based upon logic and rational factors. As such, I avoided trying meditation for a long time. How could doing nothing for a stretch of time every day actually help me?

But then the studies started coming. Science turned its attention to this ancient practice and decidedly said, “Matt is an idiot.” Continue reading “Should You Give Meditation a Try?”

Hedonic Adaptation is Making You Poor and Unhappy

Hedonic adaptation is the human ability to get used to pretty much any situation. This can be great when bad things happen to us.

One study measured the happiness of people with end-stage kidney disease against the happiness of healthy people. The kidney patients had to spend nine hours per week going through hemodialysis and stick to a strict diet. Both the kidney patients and the healthy controls felt that the healthy people would be significantly happier.

But they weren’t. Despite everything that the patients had to go through, they were just as happy as their healthy counterparts. They had quickly adjusted to their new situation and had adapted to it.

This is a really powerful ability! We can be happy regardless of what we are going through!

The problem is that hedonic adaptation also applies to positive situations. Continue reading “Hedonic Adaptation is Making You Poor and Unhappy”

Finding Happiness Through Flow

If you stop and think about the times when you were most happy in your life, you probably don’t think of times when you were sitting around and watching television. Instead, maybe you’ll think about a time you skied a difficult slope. Maybe you’ll think about a time where you were hanging out with your friends or playing with your kids. Maybe you’ll think about completing a challenging task.

The thing that ties our happiest moments together tends to be that we are completely engaged with what we are doing and lose track of time.

This is a state called flow. Understanding flow is a key to living our happiest life. Continue reading “Finding Happiness Through Flow”

Why You Should Be Watching More Sports

There are plenty of reasons to watch sports. Some of these are obvious, like the raw entertainment value that most people get from watching their sport of choice. Others are less obvious, like the networking benefits of having an arsenal of non-work-related topics to discuss.

If you are interested in a deep dive on sports fandom and society, I would recommend checking out Daniel Wann’s book, Sports Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators.

Today, though, I specifically want to discuss a few of the ways that watching sports (and having a team that you root for) can make you a happier person. Continue reading “Why You Should Be Watching More Sports”

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

I studied Stoicism before it was cool.

Okay, cool might be a bit of a stretch. It has gotten a lot more attention over the last few years, though.

Tim Ferris adopted it as his operating system. Ryan Holliday wrote a book about it that was adopted by pro sports teams. It has even made its way into the financial independence blogosphere. Continue reading “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”