Most people know that money doesn’t buy happiness. However depending on how you spend your money, it actually can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment.

The Wrong Way

The least likely way to find happiness by spending money is to buy stuff. Whether it’s clothes, a car, jewelry or furniture; the accumulation of material possessions does not translate into greater happiness. While you may get an immediate sense of gratification, the feeling does not translate into long term well-being.

The exception for stuff is when the tangible item you’re purchasing represents you or your identity. For example this could be a family photograph or if you are passionate about music and play the guitar, another guitar can lead to greater happiness. If you value a healthy lifestyle and love the outdoors, a new bike can lead to greater happiness. For collectors who add to their collection, the same holds true. Although some might argue that collections are nothing more than a conscious accumulation of stuff (no Hon, I’m not referring to your shoe collection) so one must be cautious as to the motive behind the collection and the meaning attached to it.

The Best Ways

The quickest route to buying more happiness is by spending on experiences and in particular experiences shared with others. Experiences are limitless - dining out, vacations, recreational activities, attending a sporting event, a movie or show, a drive up the coast. As you can see, each of these examples can be experienced alone or shared with family, friends, or colleagues. The beauty with experiences is that once consumed, the experience remains with you. I’ve had vacations where I replayed portions of it in mind every single day for at least a year. No one can take your experience away from you so you always have it.

The other guaranteed way to find greater happiness is to spend your money on others. This could be a donation to a charity, something for a stranger or a gift for someone special in your life. Spending in this way gets us other-focused and less caught up in ourselves. Spending on others is transformative. The absolute amount is not what matters, which means that everyone has the ability to tap into this way to spend money for happiness.

Whether I spend money on stuff, experiences or others, I do it from a place of gratitude. For me, it’s simple because I recognize that the money I possess (and I’m talking all the money I possess) is a gift so gratitude comes easy. It logically follows that whatever I spend it on is also a gift… and this further nurtures greater happiness.

Two takeaways on spending for greater happiness

  1. Be intentional with your spending. Increase what you spend on experiences and on others.

  2. Reassess your relationship with money. Do you possess your money or does your money possess you? Seeing my money as a gift helped unchain me from the bonds of money.

Special Announcement [Fall 2018]

Join me on the journey to the launch of my new book this. It’s called “Surviving to Thriving: The 10 Laws of Grateful Leadership” This book is the ultimate guide on gratitude and its importance for spending more time thriving and less time surviving. Through reading the book, you’ll deeply understand how to implement gratitude in all aspects of your life.

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