The Hidden Path To ‘Buying Happiness’ With Money Revealed

Most people think that spending money on themselves will make them happier than spending it on other people.

Most people think that spending money on themselves will make them happier than spending it on other people.

This is not a radical idea which will blow your mind with its incredible newness.

Far from it.

But, because it’s advice that sometimes goes against our natural instinct, it’s worth repeating.

Research suggests that many people think that spending money on themselves will make them happier than spending it on other people (Dunn et al., 2008).

But there is evidence from various different studies that, on average, this isn’t true:

  • Participants who were given $5 or $20 to spend on another person were happier than those who spent it on themselves (Dunn et al., 2008).
  • People who spend greater proportions of their income on giving to others or to charity are happier than those who spend it on themselves (Dunn et al., 2008).
  • Canadian and Ugandan students who thought back to times they’d been generous to others were happier than those thinking back to money they’d spent on themselves (Aknin et al., 2010).

And we haven’t even taken into account how happy it makes the recipient.

Prosocial spending

But why? Why is it that spending our money on others—prosocial spending—makes us happier?

It’s partly because giving to others makes us feel good about ourselves.

It helps promote a view of ourselves as responsible and giving people, which in turn makes us feel happy.

It’s also partly because spending money on others helps cement our social relationships.

And people with stronger social ties are generally happier.

So if prosocial spending makes us feel good, how come we tend to think personal spending will make us happier?

It’s because of the insidious effect money has on the mind.

Studies have shown that the simplest reminder of money has all kinds of negative effects (from Vohs et al., 2006).

It makes us:

  • less likely to help others,
  • less likely to donate to charity,
  • less likely to spend time with others,
  • three times more likely to want to work alone, despite knowing we’re taking on more work.

These are all precisely the behaviours that are likely to make us happy, yet just being reminded of money makes us less likely to engage in them.

It’s not that money is always evil; under the right circumstances it can motivate us and modern societies would be difficult without it.

But money clearly has some negative psychological effects.

So fight money’s evil side. Fool it. Betray it. Give it away!

Generosity is the good type of selfishness.

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How To Be Happy — Even If Your Life Feels Out of Control

How to feel mastery and satisfaction with life — even when it’s out of your control.

How to feel mastery and satisfaction with life — even when it’s out of your control.

We all want to exert control over our lives, and that control feels good.

But life can spin out of control.

No matter how hard we try, some things are hard to change.

Research finds that accepting and adapting to circumstances that can’t be changed is linked to fewer negative emotions.

Dr Erik G. Helzer, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Think of the old Frank Sinatra song, ‘My Way.’

A man is looking back on his life, and he generally feels satisfaction with how things turned out, but it wasn’t all happiness.

That’s a richer notion of what it means to live a good, full life.

It’s an attitude that doesn’t downplay the negative experiences of life, and yet it allows for a different kind of engagement with life so that reappraisal and learning can occur and lead to greater satisfaction.”

Primary vs. secondary control

The study tested the effects of two different types of control on felt emotions.

Primary control is all about controlling and creating your destiny, while secondary control refers more to accepting things that can’t be changed.

Dr Helzer said:

“… secondary control is about being able to fit one’s experiences into a broader narrative of life.

Gaining mastery of your life and feeling satisfaction shouldn’t be the domain exclusively of primary control.

The idea of gaining mastery over your circumstances without having to conquer them is an important one.

That’s one thing we wanted to get across in this paper, that secondary control shouldn’t be viewed as a passive, second-best, last-resort strategy, as it is in the previous literature.”

In the survey of over 500 people, the researchers found that both primary and secondary control were linked to positive emotions.

Only primary control, though, was linked to negative emotions.

This is presumably because trying to fight things that can’t be changed is often worse than accepting them.

Dr Helzer said:

“You don’t have control over a lot of situations, at work or elsewhere in your life.

But you do have control over your response to it, over the meaning you assign to the event.

Sometimes you have to give up on the idea that ‘I just want to show that I’m right.’

It’s important to note that secondary control can be just as active and beneficial a method as primary control.”

The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science (Helzer & Jayawickreme, 2015).

The Simple Mindset That Makes Everyone Happier, All Around The World (M)

Despite deep cultural differences between nations, there is one attitude that makes all humans happy.

Despite deep cultural differences between nations, there is one attitude that makes all humans happy.

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Habits For Happiness: 10 Simple Things Proven To Work

Simple habits for happiness include self-acceptance, giving to others, relating to people and appreciating the world.

Simple habits for happiness include self-acceptance, giving to others, relating to people and appreciating the world.

There is a strong link between self-acceptance and happiness, despite the fact that it’s a habit not frequently practised, a survey of 5,000 people finds.

The survey carried out by the charity Action for Happiness, in collaboration with Do Something Different.

For their survey, they identified ten everyday habits which science has shown can make people happier.

Habits for happiness

Here are the 10 habits for happiness, with the average ratings of survey participants on a scale of 1-10, as to how often they performed each habit:

  1. Giving: do things for others — 7.41
  2. Relating: connect with people — 7.36
  3. Exercising: take care of your body — 5.88
  4. Appreciating: notice the world around — 6.57
  5. Trying out: keep learning new things — 6.26
  6. Direction: have goals to look forward to — 6.08
  7. Resilience: find ways to bounce back — 6.33
  8. Emotion: take a positive approach — 6.74
  9. Acceptance: be comfortable with who you are — 5.56
  10. Meaning: be part of something bigger — 6.38

(You’ll notice that the first letters spell out the words GREAT DREAM.)

Self-acceptance for happiness

The survey showed that one of the largest associations between these habits for happiness and reported happiness was for self-acceptance.

This category, though, got the lowest rating for people actually performing the habit, with an average of only 5.56.

Top of the list of happy habits that people performed was ‘giving’.

In this category, one in six reported a 10 out of 10; just over one-third scored an 8 or 9; slightly fewer scored 6 or 7; and less than one in six (15%) rated themselves at 5 or less.

One of the psychologists involved, Professor Karen Pine said:

“Practising these habits really can boost our happiness.

It’s great to see so many people regularly doing things to help others — and when we make others happy we tend to feel good ourselves too.

This survey shows that practising self-acceptance is one thing that could make the biggest difference to many people’s happiness.

Exercise is also known to lift mood so if people want a simple, daily way to fee happier they should get into the habit of being more physically active too.”

Increase your self-acceptance

Here are three ways to boost your self-acceptance, as suggested by the researchers:

“1. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Notice things you do well, however small.

2. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what your strengths are or what they value about you.

3. Spend some quiet time by yourself. Tune in to how you’re feeling inside and try to be at peace with who you are.”

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How To Be Happier Right Now With Almost No Effort

It’s amazing how little you have to do to make yourself happier right now.

It’s amazing how little you have to do to make yourself happier right now.

You can lift your spirits without a gym membership, wearing Lycra or even leaving the house.

For sedentary people, getting out of the chair is enough to improve happiness, research finds.

It turns out that very light activity is surprisingly effective in raising people’s level of well-being.

Mr Gregory Panza, the study’s first author, said:

“…simply going from doing no physical activity to performing some physical activity can improve their subjective well-being.

What is even more promising for the physically inactive person is that they do not need to exercise vigorously to see these improvements.

Instead, our results indicate you will get the best ‘bang for your buck’ with light or moderate intensity physical activity.”

Light physical activity is equivalent to a leisurely walk.

The kind of walk that doesn’t make you sweat, breathe faster or even change your heart rate.

Moderate activity is walking fast enough to nudge up your vital signs for around 15 minutes.

Vigorous exercise is equivalent to going for a jog.

The study looked at 419 healthy, middle-aged adults.

The biggest gains in happiness were seen among those who were the most sedentary and then did some light or moderate physical activity.

People who sat around a lot had the most to gain.

Mr Panza said:

“The ‘more is better’ mindset may not be true when it comes to physical activity intensity and subjective well-being.

In fact, an ‘anything is better’ attitude may be more appropriate if your goal is a higher level of subjective well-being.”

People doing vigorous activity did not see increases in their happiness.

This is the reverse of a recent study that found vigorous activity can actually decrease mental well-being.

Dr Beth Taylor, a study author, said:

“Recent studies had suggested a slightly unsettling link between vigorous activity and subjective well-being.

We did not find this in the current study, which is reassuring to individuals who enjoy vigorous activity and may be worried about negative effects.”

The study was published in the Journal of Health Psychology (Panza et al., 2017).

Peace Of Mind: 7 Signs You Are Highly Contented (M)

Peace of mind reflects the idea of harmony and balance both within the individual and with their environment.

Peace of mind reflects the idea of harmony and balance both within the individual and with their environment.

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Happiness: These Are The Best Psychological Techniques To Achieve It

Over four hundred studies including 50,000+ people reveal the best happiness techniques.

Over four hundred studies including 50,000+ people reveal the best happiness techniques.

Meditation, mindfulness and conscious breathing are some of the best techniques for improving happiness, a review of over 400 studies reveals.

Positive psychological interventions like a gratitude journal, performing small acts of kindness and working on your sense of purpose are also effective.

Positive psychological interventions work best, though, when done together — individually they have little effect.

These techniques work well for people in good health and those with physical and mental illnesses, the research found.

However, it is important to find the right technique that fits you.

Mr Joep Van Agteren, the study’s first author, said:

“During stressful and uncertain periods in our lives, pro-actively working on our mental health is crucial to help mitigate the risk of mental and physical illness.

Our research suggests there are numerous psychological approaches people should experiment with to determine what works for them.”

Unsurprisingly, psychological therapies are also effective at improving well-being, although techniques need to be fitted to people’s requirements.

For people with mental health problems, cognitive-behavioural therapy was effective.

For those who already have good mental health, acceptance and commitment therapy works well.

Stick at it

All psychological techniques require that people stick at them for a period.

Mr Matthew Iasiello, study co-author, said:

“Just trying something once or twice isn’t enough to have a measurable impact.

Regardless of what method people are trying out, they need to stick at it for weeks and months at a time for it to have a real effect.”

While seeking professional help is important, there are many things individuals can do to improve their well-being, said Professor Michael Kyrios, study co-author:

“Implementing such interventions can be done safely for individuals on their own or in a group format, either in person or online.

It is therefore potentially a cost-effective addition to current referral pathways and treatment methods.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour (Agteren et al., 2021).

Money Or Meaning At Work: This Is What Most Choose (M)

Meaning in work is linked to happiness, job satisfaction, higher work engagement, greater career commitment and lower levels of depression and burnout.

Meaning in work is linked to happiness, job satisfaction, higher work engagement, greater career commitment and lower levels of depression and burnout.

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Happier People Are Raised By Parents Who Do These 3 Things

The largest household panel survey reveals how parents raise happy children.

The largest household panel survey reveals how parents raise happy children.

Children grow up happier when their mother is happy in her relationship.

Fully 73 percent of people whose mothers were ‘perfectly happy’ in their relationship say they are ‘completely happy’ with their family situation.

This is just one of the factors in a family that predicts which children grow up to be happier.

The others are: avoiding regular arguments and eating at least three evening meals together a week.

Arguing more than once a week with parents was linked to much lower levels of happiness among children.

The researchers also found that having no younger siblings was also beneficial for later happiness.

Older siblings, though, had no effect on happiness.

Dr Maria Iacovou, a study author, said:

“At a time when there is widespread political concern about ‘Broken Britain’, these findings show that family relationships and the happiness of parents are key to the happiness of young people.

Contrary to the popular belief that children only want to spend time playing videogames or watching TV we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings.”

The conclusions come from a long-running UK study called ‘Understanding Society’.

It is the largest household panel survey in the world, which will follow over 40,000 households over a number of years.

These findings are based on a sample of over 10,000 men, women and children.

Dr Iacovou said:

“Together these findings reveal the complex influences of different family relationships on a child’s happiness.

Over the years, as Understanding Society follows the lives of families in the UK, we’ll build up an even better picture of how children’s lives are affected by all kinds of factors.

Understanding Society is really set to become a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the well-being of children.”

The study was published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) (Ermisch et al., 2011).

How Chasing Happiness Can Make You Unhappy

The ironic reason chasing happiness can make you feel worse.

The ironic reason chasing happiness can make you feel worse.

The pursuit of happiness can make you unhappy when it makes you feel short of time, research finds.

People in the study who had the continuous goal of being happier, felt there was less time to achieve it.

Because of this shortness of time, they felt less happy.

In contrast, those who let happiness ‘just happen’ and were not pursuing it, did not feel the same rush and, consequently, were happier.

The researchers explain:

“Time seems to vanish amid the pursuit of happiness, but only when seen as a goal requiring continued pursuit.

This finding adds depth to the growing body of work suggesting that the pursuit of happiness can ironically undermine well-being.”

Feeling short of time is just one way the pursuit of happiness can backfire.

We can also force ourselves into activities we don’t really enjoy, spend too much money or simply overthink it.

For the research, sometimes people were given a goal of being happier.

Other times their normal levels of happiness seeking were tested.

Across four studies the researchers found that pursuing happiness could ultimately decrease it: whether it is in a person’s make-up or if they are given the goal.

It is a useful reminder that we all need time to stop and enjoy the fruits of our labours.

In the rush to be happy, we can find the goal is easily lost.

The researchers say:

“Because engaging in experiences and savoring the associated feelings requires more time compared with merely, for instance, buying material goods, feeling a lack of time also leads people to prefer material possessions rather than enjoying leisure experiences.

By encouraging people to worry less about pursuing happiness as a never-ending goal, successful interventions might just end up giving them more time and, in turn, more happiness.”

The study was published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (Kim and Maglio, 2018).

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