If money is not making you happy then you probably aren’t spending it right

One day, my father, he told me, “Son, don’t let it slip away” He took me in his arms, I heard him say “When you get older your wild heart will live for younger days

I was research by Harvard reading article about happiness so and it pointed 7 reasons a human with a regular income becomes happy when he focuses on —

  1. Buying experiences v/s materialistic things
  2. State of flow
  3. Use the money to help others
  4. Small small victories
  5. Delay consumption
  6. Comparison shopping

The song “The Nights” by Avicii sums it up perfectly well. The line goes like -

One day, my father, he told me, “Son, don’t let it slip away”
He took me in his arms, I heard him say
“When you get older your wild heart will live for younger days”

Family picture image

Money spent on experiences rather than materialistic things gives not only happiness but memories which in turn give future happiness. The dopamine released from the purchase of material possession vanishes as soon as it generates in the brain.

I still remember my trip with the family to Mathura, Vrindavan, New Delhi, and Mumbai. And I assure you that when I get back to those days in my mind now when we all were together made me think it was all worth it. Every moment of my trip to Shimla and Triund with college friends is in my mind and will remain till the day I live.

Buddha also once said that the biggest mistake humans make is they think they have time. We are so much concerned about our future that we have forgotten to live in the present. That is why I see investments in mutual funds increasing day by day. The younger generation wants to have a secure future. Securing your future is not a bad thing. I think we all should save money but not at the cost of not living up in the present because otherwise what will be left in the future — nothing to remember?

Now coming to the state of the flow. It is the things that take me in the zone. Preparing for an exam, powerlifting, programming, music, football — 98% of the time when I do these things, they put me in a state of flow. This state of flow is not for sale. It is something that comes by doing things rather than acquiring things. Buying an iPhone, LED TV, getting promotions, and getting a huge number of views on stories, and posts also bring happiness but not as much as the former. This state of flow on which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi experimented a lot. This state brings happiness or perhaps let me put it as something which is even beyond happiness — inner peace.

Second, is how much I helped someone in my social circle or stranger. Helping someone by teaching them, guiding them, by having dinner with them brings happiness too. Research on two groups of individuals in which one spent some part of their income on themselves (personal spending) and the other spending to help others (prosocial spending) stated that the later group turned out to be more cheerful and happy even after controlling for their income. One day, my (not direct) manager told me in one of my previous organizations that “Success is making others successful”. Why? Because it led to activation in brain areas typically associated with receiving rewards.

Third, small victories are more important. It refers that, instead of finishing an assignment on the very last day if we do it part by part every day results in more learning and activations of happy neurons in the brain. Why does it happen? Because our brain is designed to work in that way. That is why they introduced T20 (one day) format of cricket from the Test (many days) tournament. Also, the research says that if we overdo it, the law of diminishing utility activates. And that is why world cups are watched and enjoyed more than regular matches. Because they come after every four years keeping the law of diminishing utility in check.

Fourth, “consume now, pay later” is a bad idea and an idea that is made famous by banks and credit card companies. It removes the anticipation and which further takes away the happiness. The person who buys a cookie and eats it right away may get X units of pleasure from it, but the person who saves the cookie until later gets X units of pleasure when it is eventually eaten plus all the additional pleasure of looking forward to the event. It happened to me a lot of times that in search of pleasure right away I bought some not needed things and regretted it later. In hurry, the decisions I made were not fruitful.

Also, there was an experiment conducted by Walter Mischel in 1972 in which some children were given a marshmallow and two options —

  1. They can eat marshmallows right now. Or
  2. If they wait for 15 minutes and the researcher will come back with a new marshmallow and hence they will get 2 marshmallows to eat.

It was found later on that the children belonging to the second group who denied instant gratification got good score in their SATs, got great education attainment and performed well in other measures of life.

I personally don’t align with the results of the experiment and feel that there are other factors that were not taken into consideration—for example — environmental factors, genetic factors, economic factors, trauma, and incidents in life. Still, there is no point in denying that instant gratification is the enemy of every millennial.

Fifth, Comparison is a thief of joy. Sometimes we do shopping just to show or make ourselves feel superior to our peers. It brings happiness for a short while but that happiness fades away as soon as it came. I myself had made some decisions like these in past and regretted them later. So, even if I have to buy a T-shirt online, I keep it in the online cart for a few days to test whether the decision to buy the T-shirt is an emotional/comparison or useful one.

family spending time together image

Now, I suppose it’s time I should put down my pen.

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Under: #spirituality , #life