A Happier Life

LOOKING TO GET MORE happiness from your dollars? Here are nine super-simple strategies that you can put into practice today:

1. Buy a gift for somebody else. Research says we get more pleasure from spending on others than spending on ourselves. Want extra credit? Give a gift when it isn’t expected. The recipient will be especially happy—which means you’ll be, too.

2. Start planning next year’s vacation. That’ll give you a long period of pleasurable anticipation, which may prove to be the best part of the vacation.

3. Do something fun—with somebody else. Go out to dinner. Go to a concert. Go for a hike. Just as everything is better with French fries, (almost) everything is better when it’s enjoyed with a companion.

4. Whatever you do, take photos. That way, you can revisit fun moments and squeeze a little more happiness out of them.

5. Too much choice creates uncertainty and uncertainty can be the death knell for happiness. What to do? Look for ways to limit your choice. Struggling to settle on an investment strategy? You might restrict yourself to, say, the mutual funds offered by one major fund family.

6. Don’t hang around rich people by going to ritzy resorts or wandering into high-end stores. Even if you are comfortable financially, you’ll feel relatively deprived.

7. Make many small purchases, rather than one big one. Buying stuff may bring an initial thrill, but the thrill often fades quickly. By making many small purchases, you will—at least—get the initial thrill many times over.

8. Before buying an item, consider its virtues—but also consider the upkeep. The more upkeep that’s involved, the more likely you are to regret the purchase.

9. Pause for a moment and admire your car, your latest remodeling project or your spouse—and think how lucky you are. What matters is what we focus on, so focusing on your good fortune can bring an extra shot of happiness.

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