How to Buy Happiness

Rainbow abstract watercolor background. Hand drawn watercolor stains, splashes and drops

Eric Barker is one of my absolute favorite authors. I loved reading Barking Up The Wrong Tree and Plays Well With Others.

But I most appreciate the fact that he consistently maintains one of the best “classic” blogs on the Internet.

Here are the takeaways from his post last week.


Here’s how to spend your money to maximize happiness…

  • Buy Many Small Pleasures Vs Fewer Large Ones: Don’t save up all year to buy one colossal, wallet-destroying item. Spread the cash around for lots of little boosts.
  • Buy Experiences Instead Of More Stuff: More amusement parks and vacations. Fewer gadgets and TV’s.
  • Delay Consumption, Increase Anticipation: Looking forward to something is often more satisfying than actually getting it. The anticipation, it turns out, was the main event. The actual product is just the merch you buy on the way out of the concert.
  • Consider The *Full* Effects of Your Purchases: Going on a hot air balloon ride looks great on Instagram, but they don’t show the part where you’re praying to every deity you can think of because you’re essentially in a wicker basket 10,000 feet in the air with a giant flame above your head. Next time you’re about to make a big purchase, consider the full picture.
  • Following The Crowd Can Be A Great Idea: In our quest for happiness, we often forget a simple truth: looking at what makes others happy can be a cheat sheet for our own bliss.
  • Spend Money On Fundamental Feelings: Forget the suburban gladiator arena known as “keeping up with the Joneses.” Instead of status, buy competence, relatedness, and autonomy.
  • Buy Time: The sweet paradox of modern living: we hustle for those almighty dollars, yet find ourselves too strapped for time to enjoy them. (And if you do want to inspire envy in others, lots of free time can have a far greater effect than money.)
  • Make It A Treat: We’re living in a world of instant gratification, where pleasures are as easy to come by as bad decisions at a high school reunion. So create artificial scarcity. It’s like playing hard to get with yourself. Suddenly, those simple pleasures become as tantalizing as a forbidden romance in a Victorian novel.
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