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Money Won’t Create Success

Money Won't Create Success

A controversial quote here, but a new favorite of mine. I love Mandela’s perspective on the prospect of making money as a freedom denied to many due to lack of societal upward economic mobility. We talk about a lot of freedoms in this world, but having the freedom to earn a living or achieve success through working hard is one that, in my opinion, we could champion a lot more. I am thinking of my fellow humans who have been denied that freedom today.

Seven Reasons I Only Buy One Product a Week (Little Life Charms Series)

StockSnap_ECJ7KWKEVA

It’s time for more Little Life Charms! After taking a bit of a hiatus, I recently went back to my method of purchasing only one item a week. This includes everything from soap to car parts to clothing and makeup, but not food or medication (I see those two as absolute needs and don’t find value in restricting them, personally.) It also does not include gifts. While I am glad that I took time to try other means of budgeting and loosening the reins a bit, re-starting this method really reminded me how much I love- and truly enjoy, only purchasing one item a week.

  1. It saves me money.  I had no idea how many small, thoughtless items I purchased on a regular basis before changing to this method. If you haven’t ever counted or made a list of your day-to-day purchases, I’d encourage you to do so at least once. It’s enlightening! I generally find that, barring some kind of last-minute unexpected emergency, purchasing one item a week still gives me all my needs and then some. In purchasing only one item a week, I can put additional income from items I would have purchased, but didn’t need, into savings. It also allows me to invest more in experiences, which research has shown leads to greater happiness.
  2. I enjoy what I purchase to the same extent. Happiness research shows that part of the reason we enjoy making purchases is because we get a burst of dopamine when we make a purchase. I don’t like buying a bunch of things at once because I have realized that I have the same “zing” in my brain whether I purchase one thing or one hundred. Better to space them out, I feel. I also feel more gratitude towards being able to purchase some of my needs, and have realized that some things I had considered “needs” are actually “wants.”
  3. It keeps my space tidier. Not only do I bring less items into my life, but I am more likely to use up things that I already have. I recently was running low on foundation. I decided to use up one I wasn’t too keen on, but that worked just fine, before purchasing the new one.
  4. It helps me to be more eco-friendly. Purchasing one item a week allows me to really prioritize what I need and not buy things in excess. If I only want a new tshirt but I need a new shampoo, I will only purchase the shampoo that week and save the tshirt for later. And you know what- I find that I really look forward to using the shampoo in a way that I maybe wouldn’t have before. It also helps me to think about how long the product I am purchasing will really last, and I find that I lean more towards reusable products and towards quality products that will last a long time.
  5. It is easier to make better, more ethical purchases. Because I purchase less, I tend to think through every purchase more. I will think about where the pants I purchased were made, or if it might be better to try to find them secondhand. Slowing down my purchases allows me to really think about quality and to use that mental energy I might have been focusing on multiple items I wanted to buy and hone it towards that one item.
  6. It saves me time. Despite spending a little more time considering each item up-front, I still don’t spend as much time shopping as I used to. I turn that part of my brain off after deciding what my purchase will be for the week and I focus on other things. And again, an emphasis on re-usable, more durable, or bulk products means that I have less decision fatigue.
  7. It allows me to be creative. I was recently going to purchase some re-usable cleaning cloths, but then I realized that I could make some instead out of some used fabric. I’ve also made my own cleaning products and found new uses for old pieces of furniture. In short, I find a lot more joy and gratitude in what I already have, rather than focusing on what I don’t have.

What about you? Do you have little spending “charms” or rules that help you to feel happier or to better meet your goals? Or, do you find those types of things restrictive? Are you a hard-liner when it comes to the rules, or do you allow yourself a little wiggle room?

Tolkein Food Quote

Six Myths About Happiness Explained


Exploring how life’s magic leads to happiness has lead me down some peculiar paths and has lead me to some even more peculiar ideas about happiness. I would like to clarify some of these ideas and explain what the field of positive psychology has discovered about happiness.

1. Money doesn’t buy happiness. 

Money does buy happiness… a little bit. We need enough money to cover our basic needs and to have some sense of stability. We are happier when we are warm and dry, have food in our bellies, and have a degree of choice/mobility financially. I have heard a few different numbers given for how much is ideal, but it seems that happiness increases as household income increases until it plateaus somewhere in the mid to late tens of thousands. (Seventy thousand in household income was one number given; I imagine this number would fluctuate depending on cost of living, inflation, etc.*)

2. Winning the lottery will make you happy. 

Neither is it true, though, that the more money we have, the happier we will be. This is because of something called the Hedonic Treadmill, also known as Hedonic Adaptation.* We become accustomed to a new income and lifestyle and continue to want more and more. Thus, something like getting a huge windfall will make us very happy… for a very short period of time, until we adjust to that change. The idea that more money will give us more happiness (beyond approximately seventy thousand in annual household income) is a myth. We will be just as happy making seventy thousand a year as making two million a year, or two hundred million. For those on the Hedonic Treadmill chasing that six figure salary, it is better to focus on daily intentional changes like practicing gratitude and to recognize that much of happiness comes not from a change in income, but a change in mindset.

3. Running/eating well/thinking happy thoughts is all anyone ever needs to be happy. 

I once had a coworker at a mental health nonprofit who believed this and was very dismissive of mental illness, which infuriated me. Mental illnesses can be life-threatening and can require professional treatment, often including medication or even hospitalization. Would we tell someone with stage four cancer to take a walk and eat some vegetables? No, we would trust that that individual was following a healthcare plan set up by medical professionals to best suit their needs. The same goes for mental illness.

4. Positive psychology is invalid because it ignores mental illness and is just about “happy thoughts.” 

I actually heard a Professor of Psychology make this argument against studying positive psychology and I wondered how familiar he was with positive psychology research. Positive psychology is a more holistic approach to mental health, rather than focusing exclusively on illness. Just as a doctor might suggest preventative lifestyle changes such as eating well and exercising, so too can a positive psychologist suggest ways to increase our mental wellness. Additionally, “positive emotion” is a very small piece of the mental wellness pie, and having healthy emotional responses, including “negative” emotions, is also vital to overall happiness, according to positive psychology research.*

5. Everyone has an equal opportunity for happiness. 

Fifty percent of happiness is genetically variable, and another ten percent is circumstantial.* If someone else just doesn’t seem as happy as you no matter what they do, consider that they might be genetically predisposed to be a little less happy. Circumstantial factors like culture, socioeconomic status, and gender also play into how happy we are.

6. You can’t change how happy you are. 

Despite happiness having a genetic set-point and being influenced by circumstance, forty percent of our happiness IS variable.* That means there are things we can do, like practicing gratitude, learning something new, and performing random acts of kindness, that can increase our happiness quite a bit. Our happiness is absolutely something that we DO have some control over if we are intentional about making changes to support positive mental health.

I hope this has clarified some nuances about happiness. There are a lot of memes and platitudes on the internet that don’t address some of the complexities found in happiness research. I am far from being an expert, but I have done quite a bit of research, so if you have a question about happiness you would like me to address, please let me know.

*Source for this post: Positive Psychology: Theory, Research, and Applications by Kate Hefferon and Ilona Boniwell

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