Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply doesn’t know where to go shopping
Contrary to what I have read and even written (apologies if you have read things that I have put out on this), I secretly believe money can and does buy happiness. And I figure if this secret belief proves to be incorrect, I would rather be rich and unhappy than the other option!
Imagine my feeling of validation when I came across a recent article on HerMoney.com confirming that researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Yale have found that Happiness and Money go together like love and marriage, two peas in a pod, and everything that is good in the world!!! Hallelujah! I feel like I just found out the Santa and the Tooth Fairy actually do exist and there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! My quest for more money will not prove to be an empty soulless pursuit!
But hold the drumroll, apparently Bo Derek was onto something. Money only leads to happiness if it is spent in the right places. On experiences we value and on other people!
It gets a little complicated from here because our level of satisfaction with these purchases is also determined by our personality type.
The researchers analysed 76,000 bank transaction records and found that individuals spent more on products that match their personality, and furthermore, where purchases were in alignment with their personality type they were happier.
The analysis performed using Psychological Theory which is based on what is known as the big 5 Model of personality traits:
- Openness to experiences (Artistic or Conservative)
- Consciousness (Self Controlled or easy-going)
- Extraversion (Outgoing or reserved)
- Agreeableness (Compassionate or antagonistic)
- Neuroticism (Emotionally unstable or stable)
Individuals favour people and environments that match their personality traits and when they associate or immerse themselves in these, their wellbeing and satisfaction increases. This can equally be applied to our spending which is at its essence merely a form of self-expression.
Self awareness and self reflection are the cornerstones to matching our spending to our personal values and mindfulness is the catalyst for achieving alignment between the two.
How do we develop our mindful spending skills ?
Mindful spending takes practice. This is not an excuse to go out and shop madly in the interest of racking up practise hours, (Be still my disappointed beating heart!), but It is an opportunity to start instilling basic habits that support mindfulness.
The Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills, a report measuring mindfulness identified the 4 keys to mindfulness and it seems reasonable that these can be applied to our spending habits.
The first key is observation
Make a list of what you believe you truly need to spend on and a list of what you want to spend on. Revisit this list over a number of days and observe the feelings you have around the items. How are they meaningful to you or which of these are absolutely unavoidable. Consider if the “want” items are consistent with who you consider yourself to be and what you truly value. Are the “need” items true needs?
How many of these items are merely conditioned or influenced by your need to conform as opposed to by your values.
The second key is describing
Plan your spending and document what you want to achieve by doing it. Create a detailed plan of what you want to spend on, what you want the result to be and how the experience will add value to your life.
This sounds like a lot of PT to simply go shopping, but from what I can see from the research is that over time as we develop our skills in sifting through the noise of our desires to those that truly matter this process because more fluid and less labour intensive.
The third key is to act with awareness and be fully engaged in the process
Disconnect from the autopilot of spending on a whim and being led by outside influences. According to the research, this is when things get real as we start butting up against our perceived needs and wants driven by the combined forces of advertising and our inability to forego instant gratification.
When this inner battle occurs the mindfulness experts suggest acknowledging these feelings and then gently bringing ourselves back to the list and values we developed in step 2.
I have to confess this is the area where I need the most practice and can see a lot of wrestling in my future!
The final key is to accept without judgement
This key is around accepting our thoughts around spending as they occur without labelling them good or bad or without trying to change them.
It is in our neutral frame of mind that we can truly start identifying the spending that adds value to the experience of living.