I’ve mentioned The Happiness Project several times on this blog over the past two years (I enjoyed the book quite a bit — and I usually don’t enjoy memoirs). Gretchen Rubin’s tale of working to be happier is not particularly prescriptive. But when she did interviews, people wanted tips. What can I do to be happier right now? So she complied, and one of her most quoted tips is to make your bed in the morning.
So, I’ve been pondering: what is the money/happiness equivalent of making your bed? That is, what is a simple way people can use money to make themselves happier?
I think the soundbite answer is “Treat a friend to lunch.” If I get more words, I’d say “Make plans to treat a friend to lunch next week,” but probably “treat a friend to lunch” sounds better. Planning fun experiences in advance heightens our enjoyment of them because we savor the anticipation (indeed, we enjoy it almost as much as the experience itself!). Humans are social creatures, and we love spending time with people who are close to us. Lunch with a friend is an investment in your social network. Food is enjoyable too. In studies of how much people enjoy different aspects of their days, it’s right up there with sex. As for treating? Spending money on other people is highly correlated with happiness. And if you treat a friend, she’ll probably reciprocate, which means you’ll get to have your fun twice.
There are other ways to buy happiness, of course, but I think this is a good start.
What expenditure always brings you happiness?