Can money buy happiness?

Every year, millions of people scurry to buy gifts on “Black Friday.”  Add a new shopping to the list of sales holidas–“Cyber Monday.”  The term comes from the hope of putting businesses back in the black.  Cyber Monday is the day when you can get the best deals for online shopping.

The holidays that spur sales like these are emotional times in terms of stress and happiness and people love to give and receive gifts.

We all know that money does not guarantee happiness but it can boost short term happiness.

Want 3 ideas to buy more happiness?

1. Buy experiences

According to Jim Harter in his book Well Being, experiential purchases produce two to three times more happiness than buying an item.  Would I rather get a new flat screen TV or a tee time paid for at Pebble Beach golf course?  Would my daughter rather get a music CD or tickets to a concert?  Would my wife rather get some new jewelry or a vacation to Italy? Okay, maybe that’s a toss up.  However, we both have incredible memories, stories, and experiences from the Italy Christmas and birthday trip I gave her a few years ago.

83% of people remember experiential gifts more than material possessions.  A while back, a friend of mine was taken to the World Series at the Ranger ballpark. He came back to our group and ecstatically said, “Boys I went to the World Series! And my son paid for it.”

For holidays or birthdays, think of experiences you could buy for your family and friends. Maybe a concert ticket, a dinner reservation, a cooking class, a ski vacation, or a train trip. What about a show, a wine tasting, or social event?  Or your experiential gift could be a transformational workshop, retreat, or a coaching package.

2. Buy for others

In an experiment people were given $5 or $20 and were to spend the money each day by 5 PM. They were randomly assigned to give to charity, buy a gift for someone else, or spend the money on themselves.  The people who spent the money on a charity or on someone else experienced more happiness than those who made purchases on themselves.  The essence of healthy retail therapy is not making a major purchase for yourself when you’re sad (66% regret their purchase) but buying for someone else.

3. Buy small indulgences

Many females take care of everyone else around them and are poor at self-care.  That’s why small indulgences such as manicures, pedicures, massages, and other spa treatments are boosters of happiness.  For men it could be paying for that extra valet parking, the shoe shine, outsourcing the Christmas lights or that high end bottle of wine or scotch.

Small indulgences help us live in the moment. Soaking up the here and now brings temporary relief and short term happiness.

This year, when the holidays roll around, give the gift of an experience that will make memories for a lifetime. Give to your favorite charity or a treasured person. Finally give yourself permission to splurge a little and soak up that happy moment. Then you will have oodles of happiness.

Here’s an idea for the next time you have to give a gift–buy a month experience of transformational life coaching with Brent for your family member, friend, or customer. Unlimited face to face or telephone sessions for a month make a great $250 dollar gift.

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