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How to be happy - Four tips to sustain your wellbeing throughout 2019

18th February, 2019

With many of our well intentioned New Year’s resolutions having already fallen by the wayside, the question arises if we were to keep one intact wish or resolution for 2019, what might that be?

Could it be happiness. . .?  And if so, what might ‘happy’ really mean to us? The 191 reg, the latest iPhone or the larger house? The answer to this question fundamentally depends on how we personally define happiness. Research has consistently shown us that while our real income levels and discretionary spending have soared over the years, our happiness levels have remained flat.

We all experience a fleeting feeling of happiness when we buy or receive a gift. Material goods are prone to what is known as hedonic adaptation. Hedonic adaptation refers to the idea that we very quickly become accustomed to our immediate environment. The post-purchase boost in satisfaction swiftly dissipates, leaving us chasing the next item on our list (think of how long the Christmas morning feeling lasts).  The drive for more isn’t an end goal, but a mindset. It's a treadmill – sprint as you might in an effort to achieve 'perfect contentment'.

This drive for more poses as a distraction to the weightier task of figuring out what is most fulfilling, important and worthwhile in life. What is it that can truly provide us with a deeper level of contentment?

1.Doing is better than having

Studies have found that only one component of daily consumption is positively related to happiness – leisure, especially when spent fostering feelings of social connectedness.  Despite there being something inherently enjoyable about a dinner party or a holiday, most of us would probably agree that sharing this experience with others is what that adds true value or happiness.

2.Giving to others

Caught up in the drive for more, we may neglect to spend quality time with others or in leisure activities, donate to charity or help those around us. However, it is precisely this type of ‘pro-social’ spending that has been shown to deepen feelings of social connection.

The link between generosity and happiness is universal, consistent across countries and income ranges. Spending on others in a manner that is sustainable to our personal finances enhances our sense of control and context.  Understanding that sustainability balance may allow us to allocate more time and money toward pro-social activities and becoming happier in our day to day lives.

3.Buyback your time

We live in an age of being ‘busy’. Many of us may feel overwhelmed by obligations and distractions, leaving us little time to enjoy the aspects of life we find truly fulfilling. There exists an almost constant trade-off between having more time versus having more money – time is money, after all.

However, money can sometimes buy you time – pay a premium for a non-stop flight, pay shipping costs and order online creating time in our busy lives. Time that can be used to cultivate our relationships, volunteer, and engage in hobbies that lend a sense of meaning to our lives.

4. Get a financial plan

That commonly used phrase ‘money can’t buy happiness’ is true in many respects, but not having it is also a pretty significant impediment to our wellbeing. Like all things in life having a financial plan increases the probability of achieving the desired outcome. So if you are to keep one resolution beyond February, perhaps it should be happiness and a plan to ensure finances help, not hinder.




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