The Case Against Charity

Earlier this year the personal finance community got into a heated debate about charitable giving. The conversation kicked off with a thread of tweets from Tanja of Our Next Life.

Tanja’s thread was filled with research and nuance, but the big takeaway was basically that we fail to recognize when we are wealthy, and this leads to a scarcity mindset that, among other things, causes us to donate much less money than we are actually able.

This all seemed pretty uncontroversial to me. And yet, it led to a lot of pushback. Especially the idea that those of us with money should be donating more of it.

I wanted to understand why, so I asked. Continue reading “The Case Against Charity”

The Philosophy of Happiness

We’ve already reviewed a couple of months focused on happiness.

First, we looked at the science of happiness. Then we dove into the intersection of money and happiness.

Both of these journeys took us deep into the world of studies and statistics. But not all of happiness can be summed up in numbers.

While I tend to favor statistics and studies, sometimes it is worth venturing into more abstract territory. That is what we did in July when we explored happiness through the lens of philosophy. Continue reading “The Philosophy of Happiness”

How to Be Happier

For the last couple weeks we’ve been revisiting the themes that we’ve spent 2018 exploring.

We have already reviewed what we learned about life planning, personal finance basics, and time management and productivity.

Today we’re getting into the good stuff. Today we learn about happiness. Continue reading “How to Be Happier”

Why We Need to Talk About Politics

We’re spending 2018 around here learning how to live a better life.

Each month, we’re diving into a different theme to learn as much as we can about how to improve ourselves in that area and use what we learn to live a happier, wealthier, and more productive life.

So far, we have focused mainly on happiness and finances, with a side of health and productivity.

This month I want to go into an area that most people view as entirely separate from self-improvement: politics.

Before diving into anything specific, though, I think I should first explain why politics and policy matters, why we should talk about it more, and how it impacts our lives. Continue reading “Why We Need to Talk About Politics”

Better Life – Second Quarter Update

2018 is a year of self-improvement.

I’m spending each month exploring a different area of life and figuring out how best to improve and optimize.

So far we’ve covered life planning, personal finance basics, time management, the science of happiness, money and happiness, and health.

We’re halfway through the year, so it’s time for a quarterly check in. Continue reading “Better Life – Second Quarter Update”

Getting More Happiness out of your Stuff

When looking into the relationship between money and happiness, as we are this month, there are a number of different approaches to take.

First, we can get a big picture overview. We did that last week when we looked at the overall relationship between money and happiness in our culture and how poverty can drastically decrease our happiness.

We can also look at the science to figure out better ways to spend our money to buy more happiness. We’ll be starting down that path next week.

This week, however, we are looking at how to get more happiness out of the money that we already spend.

On Tuesday we looked into getting the most out of our sporadic smaller purchases. Today we’re going to look into how to change our mindset to get more happiness out of the things we already have. Continue reading “Getting More Happiness out of your Stuff”

The Meaning of Life

We’ve spent the month of April around here exploring the science of happiness.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. (A Tuesday/Thursday schedule only produces eight articles in April!)

To close out the month, I’d like to touch on a light and simple topic: the meaning of life.

Okay, maybe not THE meaning of life. I don’t think I’m quite qualified to definitively comment on that. But the importance of having SOME meaning in your life. Continue reading “The Meaning of Life”

Looking on the Bright Side

Here at Optimize Your Life we are spending 2018 improving our lives. Each month gets its own theme, and April’s is the science of happiness.

We’ve already learned that 40% of our happiness is fully within our control and changes based on our thoughts and actions rather than being linked to our situation or genetics. We’ve looked at some actions that we can take by imitating the surprising amount of happiness that get at work and we’ve looked at how changing our thought patterns by practicing gratitude and appreciating the present can make us happier.

Today I want to take another swing at the “thoughts” side of the equation. Let’s look at the science behind how we can adjust our mindset for a happier life. Continue reading “Looking on the Bright Side”

The Productivity Benefits of Letting Your Mind Wander

When I started making a concerted effort to be more productive, I knew I had to make better use of my time.

One of the early steps in this process was adding podcasts and audio books to my day. Previously, while walking to the subway or around the neighborhood, I would have just let my mind wander. I replaced this lost time with extra learning.

The extra knowledge helped. I felt more productive on my walks. But I started feeling more overwhelmed with the work I had on my plate the rest of the time. It felt like I was actually getting less done.

According to the research, I probably was.

I had lost the benefits of letting my mind wander.

Continue reading “The Productivity Benefits of Letting Your Mind Wander”