Just Reflections
Just Reflections Podcast
How to buy happiness

How to buy happiness


Contrary to popular belief, money can actually buy happiness. It’s just that many people don’t know how to spend it right. There’s research to back up this claim.

“The correlation between income and happiness is positive but modest, and this fact should puzzle us more than it does. After all, money allows people to do what they please, so shouldn’t they be pleased when they spend it? Why doesn’t a whole lot more money make us a whole lot more happy?… Wealthy people don’t just have better toys; they have better nutrition and better medical care, more free time and more meaningful labor—more of just about every ingredient in the recipe for a happy life. And yet, they aren’t that much happier than those who have less. If money can buy happiness, then why doesn’t it? Because people don’t spend it right.… Money is an opportunity for happiness, but it is an opportunity that people routinely squander because the things they think will make them happy often don’t.” — Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert and Timothy D. Wilson. If Money Doesn't Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren't Spending It Right.

Many of us weren’t born into wealth. Our only model of wealth is a rich uncle who bought a bunch of fancy cars and other toys when he got wealthy. So it’s no puzzle that when we get some money of our own, we don’t know how to spend it right. As a result, it doesn’t result in our lives being meaningfully better.

Fortunately, I’ve got your back. This week, by some stroke of serendipity, I stumbled upon some brilliant advice about the most important things you need to upgrade when you get money to improve the quality of your life.

Another thing that struck me this week is that I’m now at that age where people my age get many odd illnesses. This is sad because I’m not that old. A consequence of the sedentary lifestyles we now live, I guess. So while all the advice is great, I want to shine the spotlight on the ones relating to your health.

Your health.

Health is one of those things that enhances the enjoyment you get from other things in life. The healthier you are, the more enjoyable your money will be. Any hit to your health will massively reduce your enjoyment of life. You won’t be able to enjoy your money much if you’re in and out of the doctor’s office and if you’re constantly on medication for all kinds of lifestyle disorders. So the first thing you need to do is change your mindset about your health. That’s arguably the most important thing you have and the one thing you should guard and protect ahead of everything else. Fortunately, when you make more money, you can make some changes in your life to improve your physical health. Here are a few simple changes that can reap substantial rewards.

Get a trainer.

When you get money, spend it on your health without hesitation. Everyone can do a little googling and cobble together a workout program and get a gym membership. That’s a good start. But when you can afford it, get yourself a trainer, and let them know what kind of transformation you want. Let them use their expertise to figure out the best exercise routine for you and the best diet for your goals. They’ll come to your gym and help you stay accountable and drive you towards your goals. Getting in good shape is a winning play. You will look better, you will feel better and you’ll be more confident.

Get regular health checkups.

Next, you know that odd pain in your back that you’ve lived with for 15 years. Or that bad knee that you’ve just accepted. Get that sorted. I don’t know about you, but people (especially men) in my culture brave it through what they deem to be minor health problems. They only go to the doctor when they have no option anymore. Time to change that. Go for regular health checkups even when you feel okay. Go for other luxury or specialist treatments. See a chiropractor, go to the spa and schedule some time with a physiotherapist. When you can afford it, there’s no need to keep living with those “little” issues in your health. Get it fixed.

Sleep well.

Statistically, we spend a third of our lives sleeping and if we’re not sleeping right, it has an adverse effect on the other two-thirds. So once you have the money, invest in better mattresses and pillows. You know that bed you’ve been using for 10 years? Get rid of it and invest in a new one. Replace those pillows that give you a stiff neck from time to time and that linen that messes with your sinuses. Time for it to go. Get the one with a high thread count. If you can afford it, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t feel more rested in your own bedroom than you do in a luxury hotel. You spend a lot of time there, so make it good.

Eat well.

When we don’t have a lot of money, we don’t always eat the best food. Our primary concern is being fed and stretching every dollar, so we get the cheapest food. That’s fine for its time, but as soon as you have more, upgrade your food immediately.

Food is fuel and if you use better fuel, you will get better performance. During your day, you will feel less sluggish. You won’t battle lifestyle illnesses like cholesterol and obesity. You’ll be more focused and you’ll perform better when you meet the personal trainer that you just got.

This isn’t about getting some restrictive diet and eating salads all the time. The goal is to increase the quality of your food while lowering the quantity. No need to eat at volume anymore and feel bloated afterwards. Get good nutritious food and savour the experience of eating without attempting to fill up your tummy. That’s why you won’t get a 12-wing platter at a super fancy fine-dining restaurant. Eat for right now and you’ll have another meal if you have to.

Travel with family.

An oft-neglected aspect of our health is the mental health benefit of spending time with people we love. We’re profoundly social creatures and anytime we get other people involved in what we are doing, that increases the happiness we derive from it. And sometimes all we need to get through a tough time or to clear the mental clutter is just to be around our people.

When you have more money, you will probably take more holidays. You don’t need me to tell you that. But when you go for your holidays, make a habit of taking your family members along with you. It’s easy to drift apart because of the different experiences caused by disparate net worths. So while you can’t always have your family with you everywhere, now and then travel with your sister. Take your parents along with you on your next escape. It may be nothing to you, but it could be life-changing for them and it will do wonders for your relationship. These relationships are valuable, so nature them and you’ll be happier.

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Just Reflections
Just Reflections Podcast
Impactful ideas that challenge my thinking. I hope they'll challenge yours too.