How much joy do we get from spending? And how much is it costing us? Getting off the spending treadmill may be the best way to elevate your happiness.
Today is all about what makes us happy.
Let’s do this!
Today’s newsletter is 561 words, 2:45 minutes.
1 big thing: Spin round
You know the drill: We get used to our stuff so we want something new. When a more exciting thing catches our attention we get it! Eventually we return to feeling a little dull about our possessions – perhaps we’re unhappy when the bill arrives, yet we’re back for more to feel elated again. Round and round we go!
❓ What’s going on? The hedonic treadmill (also known as hedonic adaptation) is the circular power at play. It’s a brain quirk where we’re on a continuously moving wheel looking for an emotional spark of happiness. But there’s never a marked improvement. We’re still unhappy.
It’s kinda like the Wheel of Fortune, except it’s the anti-fortune, and it’s very unfortunate.
🧭 Base point. The theory is we all have a constant level of happiness throughout our lives, or a base point, regardless of what is going on in our environments. It’s a challenge to raise our level to become happier, ’cause that ‘happiness baseline’ is a strong set point
There are ways to get off the treadmill, or wheel, or whatever machinery you’re stuck on and reduce the adaptation of buying stuff.
It all starts with a focus on spending money on experiences.
Researcher Amit Kumar:
“You can think about waiting for a delicious meal at a nice restaurant or looking forward to a vacation and how different that feels from waiting for, say, your pre-ordered iPhone to arrive. Or when the two-day shipping on Amazon Prime doesn’t seem fast enough.” (The Atlantic)
🔑 Anticipation is key. When you can’t live in the moment, science says you’ll hit a higher level of happiness from anticipating an experience. A focus on spending money on excursions, movies, or concerts can raise this base level. On the other hand, waiting for a possession can lead to feelings of anxiety and impatience. (source)
Bottom line: You’ll get more value and satisfaction in life by looking forward to and spending moments with people you love and care about.
This interview is powerful. I didn’t intend to talk about mortality and grief during a financial interview on happiness – but I did. The segment starting at 24:38 is where Andrew and I get real on The Cash and Kerry Podcast.
Andrew is one of my favorite humans, BTW. Check out his book, Balance.
As always, my deepest gratitude for reading.
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