Saturday, May 25, 2019

How to Buy Happiness?

The road to happiness is complex and there are many forks in the road.  Studies and lectures on happiness have something important to say but a Christian does have some ground rules to follow: the pursuit of the spiritual instead of the material, not to compare with others and importance of good relationships is basic. So begins an article in the Peace Weekly by a college professor.

A common element of these conclusions is that you don't buy happiness in the market nor does it come with consumption. The Easterlin paradox, which deals with the relationship between income and happiness states: as income increases, happiness increases, but if income goes beyond some point, the relationship is very small. Put simply, after our basic needs are met the increase of happiness with greater consumption is minimal.

Can we in the search for happiness give up comparing with others, renounce material possessions and consumption? Evolutionary psychologists argue that humans are genetically structured to be happy in the context of survival and reproduction. If we are not busy with activities related to survival and reproduction, it will weaken the motivation to survive and multiply. Therefore to give up many physical conditions that contribute to survival and reproduction, such as delicious and nutritious food, a warm and comfortable home,  clothes and ornaments that will make me attractive to others will not be easy to do.

Consuming is not a habit to be unconditionally discarded to obtain happiness, but to manage well.  Consumption helps self-esteem, achievement, and control by helping individuals meet what they really want and to express themselves. Many studies dealing with happiness emphasize that happiness is an experience mediated through consumption. Difficult to be happy by just changing thoughts, without religious beliefs changing thoughts when cold and hungry is nearly impossible.

Consumers who are accustomed to consumer societies and market economies today believe that happiness will increase if consumers consume more. But to the contrary, excessive consumption can lead to negative emotions: regret, disappointment, and guilt. If you want to be happy, instead of giving up on consumption or changing our thinking how about changing what we consume?

The writer introduces us to professor Elizabeth Dunn who suggests some consumption methods. First, buy experience. One is happier when accumulating experiences such as travel or learning something new than to spend money on material goods. Second, consume what is proper for yourself, what has meaning for you? We don't purchase something because others have bought it. Third, buy time.  We need to ask ourselves how will our purchase affect the way I spend my time. If the impact of what I buy will have little impact on how I spend my time your money might be better spent. Fourth, pay first and consume later. Don't go into debt to consume. Finally, consume for others. Often when we consume for others, spend money for others, we are happier.

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