Over the last couple weeks I’ve run through a lot of my philosophy behind saving and investing. I discussed that I invest at least as much as I spend every month because I want to buy options for my life, because I see the value of labor declining over time, and because I don’t want to need to start a new career path if mine gets automated out of existence.
Last week Cait Flanders wrote about how some people treated happiness as a general vibe that they exude and others pursued happiness as a destination. Thinking about this idea started me on a path that had me digging back through my notes on happiness research.
Our culture tends to treat happiness as a destination. Happiness is a goal for which you strive. And of course, the most surefire way to reach happiness is to be successful.
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 lastfour 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).
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”
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.
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!