There are some things that I have purchased over my lifetime that have undeniably broken the rule that money can’t buy happiness. I can directly point to several things; my winter coat, my skis, and an old t-shirt, from which I get a real sense of happiness. Every time I pick up one of these things I am pleased that I own it, and even in the case of things I don’t have anymore I feel happiness just remembering them.
The problem is that these happy feelings get us confused. We want that feeling all the time, but we aren’t quite sure what exact qualities those things have that make them different from the stacks of other things we own. We get that initial rush of buying something new confused with the long lasting happiness of buying something special.
In a lot of cases, shopping ends up having the opposite effect from what we are looking for, or at least leads to having tons of excess stuff that subliminally weighs us down. We need to clean it all, store it all, and pay for it all, and still we buy more. So, how do you buy happiness? There are two obvious answers to this question. Spend your money on experiences or on other people. These two solutions have been shown time and again to increase your level of happiness, but we still need to buy a certain amount of material goods for ourselves.
Here are some tips and tricks.
Buy stuff with a lifetime warranty or that is really good quality
“I’ve had this for 30 years,” beats, “Look what I just got.” When you pick up a piece of kitchen ware or camping gear that you know you will have for the rest of your life, you get a little bit attached to that thing. Over time, you care for it and show it some love and become even more attached to it. It also saves you money and produces less waste!
Write it down and don’t buy it for a year
absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you still want something after waiting for a year, you certainly wont have immediate regret once you buy it. You have successfully beat out the instant gratification and instead get the feeling like you have worked for it and earned it. Plus, you’d be surprised at how often what you think you want changes in a year’s time. Buy used. A lot of happiness is built on expectations, and when you go shopping for used goods your expectations are low. The key here is not to settle and not to go crazy buying stuff just because it is cheap. I got hooked in high school when a friend and I went thrift shopping. I found a nice t-shirt for $2. I wore that shirt for over four years, and it just so happened to be the kind of shirtthat drew a lot of ‘nice shirt’ comments. Every time I got to say, “Yeah, and I got it for $2!”
Spend money on things you love doing
Watch out, this one only works when used with extreme caution. It is very easy to start buying more and more sports gear or to sink endless amounts of money into a hobby. The key is to do tons of research into what you what you want to buy. I think I put nearly a hundred hours of research in before I bought my skis. This way you avoid feeling disappointed or wanting something newer and better later on. Buy fair trade or socially responsibly. It is a well known fact that being compassionate to others is a guaranteed way to bring happiness. There are even scientific studies on it. Sure it may be a little bit more expensive, but on top of making you feel better you are doing an unbelievable act of kindness for someone. Imagine if you had no job and could not provide for your family. What would make you feel better, someone giving you money or a job? That is an easy one.
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Author: Greg Kamphuis
Greg created an online ‘mall’ with hundreds of stores that sell lifetime warrantied, second hand, B-Corp certified, or Fair Trade certified products. His goal is to start a #ConsciousConsumerMove