Can Money Buy Happiness? Research Says Yes — If You Spend It On These Things

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Woman online, shopping for a trip

When you need a little lift, do you like to spend some money and go shopping? Do you feel incredibly happy afterward?

Or maybe you feel guilty going shopping because it's "bad."

Consumerism is wasteful. Others aren't as fortunate as you. Sure that's true, but ... blah, blah, blah. The other reasons are a never-ending list.

Can money buy happiness? Can you truly live a happy life by shopping and spending?

Well, here's the answer: Yes. Money can buy happiness.

Research shows that happiness does result from spending money when we spend it in certain ways.



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Here are 3 money mindsets to make spending joyful and rewarding.

1. Fund your liberation

When you have cash on reserve, you're free to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities that arise — like attending a niece’s birthday party unexpectedly or showing up to celebrate an old friend’s achievement.

Spending your available cash on what's important to you — and avoiding what isn't — frees up extra cash to save for future freedom.

Don't have enough cash yet?

Practice spending energy on what's important to you and creatively make your presence felt in situations when you can't yet swing buying that plane ticket — make a video for your niece or create a photo book for your friend.



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2. Invest in your growth

Being happy in life means investing in yourself. Maybe there's a course or program that doesn't align with your career path, but you'd enjoy taking it anyway.

Without rationalizing whether it's wise to spend money on something you don't "need", invest in nurturing all sides of your mind and personality — simply because you want to!

Until that cash reserve is adequate, explore the possibilities of how you can still broaden your knowledge.

So, make a list and investigate ways to delve into some of those subjects. Watch TED Talks, look for free online classes, or attend interesting MeetUps in your community.



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3. Celebrate with symbolism

Buy yourself something just because it speaks to you deeply. Not in a "must-have it because it's the next new thing" way, but because it reflects an aspect of your inner being and makes you feel stronger, happier, smarter, or better.

Buy a symbol to remind yourself of something important you did or something important you're creating.

No cash to indulge in yet? Go for a walk and find something in nature that speaks to you. Either collect it or take a picture to display. Capture the moment, as well as, the meaning, and treasure it each day.

It’s obvious that it isn't cash itself that is making us smile — the wealth is in what cash provides.

So, money and happiness are more closely related than you initially believe, as long as you go about it the right way.

Hoarding it and not using it to enjoy your life shortly changes you just as much as overspending.

So think about what's important to you. Spontaneity? Philanthropy? Adventure? Creativity? From there, decide how to use and enjoy those riches of yours!



And there are smart rules we can follow that reinforce spending money in ways that bring us joy:

Buy experiences

Use cash to improve how you spend time

Get yourself treats

Pay now or ahead of time

Be generous and share it

But, there's more to the "Money can buy happiness" theory than the spending habits above.

There's also the pure joy of shopping to celebrate yourself!

Don't you find it so gratifying when you buy the perfect item to express who you are and then wear it to exclaim that to the world?

Or, winning a challenge and buying a symbolic reminder to look at, each morning, as a reminder of your victory and motivation for the next big win?

Are those shallow purchases? Quite the opposite. Those purchases are tools that reinforce your deepest desires and support you in doing your boldest work within the world.

Okay, so maybe you don’t need to spend money on this. You can also find non-monetary ways to acknowledge, celebrate, and represent your life events. I'm all for that, too.

However, if you do choose to spend a bit of cash, enjoy it! Don't feel guilty!

Buying automatically to numb or avoid life is not the way to shop and it's probably what gave spending money a bad reputation!

Racking up debt or filling our closets with things we don't need, use, or enjoy is pointless and leads us to feel depressed rather than delighted. There's no value in that!

But, you can learn how to be happy by approaching money in the right way.

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Jan L. Bowen is an author, keynote speaker, thought leader, and facilitator with over 25 years of successful corporate leadership who specializes in helping leaders find their balance.=