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How to Spend Money in a Way that Maximizes Happiness

June 23, 2013, 2:26 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Happiness is not just what you buy (or don't) but how you buy it, say researchers who study the effects of consumption on our level of well being. While new apps that bundle together the conveniences of digital technology create seamless payments online and at department stores, the result is a kind of instant gratification that may harm our greater sense of fulfillment. "In one study, students chose to eat a Hershey’s Hug or a Hershey’s Kiss, but some had to wait 30 minutes before they could eat the candy they chose... Waiting enhanced enjoyment and also increased people’s desire to buy more chocolate."

What's the Big Idea?

In addition to delaying your sense of gratification, pre-paying for things like vacations or entertainment can bring a greater sense of worth to the experience of buying and using your purchases. "If your Paris trip is paid for before your departure, it is likely to be far easier to stop seeing dollar signs when you look at the Eiffel Tower or visit the Louvre. Paying up front hurts in the moment but enhances every subsequent moment." The challenge for the next generation of innovators may be to integrate the vast potential of computer science with the fundamental principles of happiness science.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at the New York Times


How to Spend Money in a Way...

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