Buy yourself time

Sonja Lyubomirsky's third principle to enjoy your wealth so that it brings you happiness is this:

Spend money to give you time.

Time, as they say, is the great equalizer. We all have the same 24 hours regardless of the dollars in our bank accounts.

Research shows, that 'time affluence' – (time to do things that matter to you and bring you joy) is a better predictor of happiness than pure affluence (how much money you have).

Makes sense, right? If we are too busy making money, we don't have time to enjoy it.
So here is an easy way to "buy happiness".

Use money to buy time for yourself. Hire someone to do something that you would normally do yourself.

For those of us who like to do everything ourselves, here is another way to look at it: you will be distributing your blessings and being a source of income for someone else.
(Not to mention having one less thing on your "to-do" list).

(When I shared this with a group of mothers recently, that you could get someone to help you do...

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Share it to savour it

Sonja Lyubomirsky's second principle to enjoy your wealth so that it brings you happiness is this:

Spend money on others not yourself.

There is some fascinating research here. It turns out that if you give people $20 and have them spend it on themselves they'll be less happy than if they spend it on others. Cool, huh?

(I wonder if this is the one reason why people like Bill Gates give away such a significant portion of their wealth?)

So, shall we experiment with generosity this week?

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4 ways money can make you happy

family self awareness Apr 03, 2017

We have all heard the phrase, "money cannot buy happiness".

This is true.

But can we use our money in ways that are likely to bring us more happiness and contentment as opposed to stress and dissatisfaction?

Sonja Lyubomirsky in her interesting book The Myths of Happiness gives us four principles that psychological science suggests we live by if we want to optimally enjoy our money.

Here is the first principle:

Don't spend money on "stuff"— you will get used to it ("hedonically adapt" to use the technical term).

Moreover, she writes that "A mountain of research has shown that materialism depletes happiness, threatens satisfaction with our relationships, harms the environment, renders us less friendly, likable, and empathetic, and makes us less likely to help others and contribute to our communities. . .". These are just some of the negative effects of unbridled consumerism.

Lyubomirsky suggests that in order to counteract this happiness killer, spend money on experiences and...

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Money and happiness

Let's face it. Our generation as a whole has more money and disposable income than any other generation in history. This material progress has not resulted in increased emotional or psychological wellbeing.

Quite the opposite.

We are so rich, in fact, that we have "rich people problems" and our youngsters (not to mention their parents) have managed to catch a brand new virus.

This 'virus' is called the "Affluenza Virus" and it is defined as "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more."

Symptoms of the "Affluenza Virus" include:

- Shopping Fever . . .shopping as entertainment and fulfillment. (Newsflash: Just as "dieting makes you fat" so "retail therapy makes you sad.")

- Chronic Stress . . .

- Hypercommercialism . . . confusing personal identity with the brands you wear

- Believing that "Anti-social behavior in pursuit of a product is a good thing."

- A Rash of Bankruptcies . . . the top 10%...

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Buddha and the farmer with the 83 problems

Sharing a story today that captures the concept of AIMing at happiness that we have been talking about this week. . .

A farmer came to see the Buddha for a solution to the problems in his life.

My first problem is my work, he began:
"I like farming, but sometimes it doesn't rain enough, and my crops fail. Last year we nearly starved. And sometimes it rains too much, so my yields aren't what I'd like them to be."

The Buddha patiently listened to the man. . .

My next problem is my domestic life, he continued:
"I'm married and she's a good wife… I love her, in fact. But sometimes she nags me too much. And sometimes I get tired of her."

The Buddha listened quietly.
"Also, I have kids," said the man. "Good kids, too… but sometimes they don't show me enough respect. And sometimes…"

The man went on like this, laying out all of his difficulties and worries.

Finally he wound down and waited for the Buddha to say the words that would put everything right for him.


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AIM-ing at happiness – what do you remember?

Uncategorized Mar 29, 2017

Human minds are wired to retain more negative memories than positive. There are very good survival reasons for this (which we can get into at another time!)

In order to move beyond survival to self growth and actualization, we need to be intentional in training our brains to remember the good.

How can you do this? So glad you asked because it is actually VERY simple.

When you are having a positive experience (listening to a bird, getting a parking spot, smelling a flower, tasting that chocolate . . .), take a moment to savour it.

Pause. Breathe. Savour.

Take a few moments to enjoy the experience rather than moving onto the next thing.

It takes between 8 – 20 seconds for the pleasant sensations and memory to register in your memory bank and in your cells.

For best results, repeat several times a day!

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AIM-ing at happiness – what is your interpretation?

Uncategorized Mar 28, 2017

It can be really challenging to separate what happens to us from how we interpret it.

When we are in a negative spiral, it can be quite difficult to remember that what happens and how we interpret it are two separate events – one out there and one in our minds.

While we cannot control what happens out there, we can practice coming up with more helpful interpretations for ourselves.

For example, if I did not get invited to my friends birthday dinner, it can be easy to interpret this in a negative way. She does not care about me, I do not matter, she is upset with me, she has found other friends etc etc etc!

It takes much more presence of mind (and creativity!) to come up with interpretations that will not lead to emotional distress.

How many can you think of?

Coming up with helpful interpretations of external events takes intentionality and practice. But it gets sooo much easier with time.

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AIM-ing at happiness – where is your attention?

What you put your attention on will determine what you see and how happy you will be.


Your world, like mine, is full of beauty, compassion, kindness and heroism.

It is also full of cruelty, evil, disparity, disease and distress.

Where is your attention?

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AIM-ing at happiness

We often say and hear the phrase "have a positive attitude" to be happy.

But do we understand what exactly having a positive attitude means and how do we practice having this positive attitude?

Ed Diener & Robert Biswas-Diener in their book Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, also reiterate the necessity of a positive attitude in life as central to personal happiness and life satisfaction.

The authors use the acronym AIM to represent the basic components of a positive attitude that are necessary for happiness:

A: Attention
I: Interpretation
M: Memory

So, this week, let us work at improving our AIM at happiness.

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Practice emodiversity

family parenting Mar 23, 2017

Psychologists agree that emotional well-being isn't about being cheerful all the time and avoiding sadness at all costs.

Studies that show over-pursuing the overtly cheerful kind of happiness actually may be detrimental to your mental and physical health.

Recent research in Europe found that people who have "emodiversity"—meaning they experience and express a full range of emotions including anger, worry and sadness—are actually physically and emotionally healthier than those whose range tends to be mostly on the positive side.

Of the 1,300 participants in this study, the more emodiverse ones had less medication use, lower government health care costs, and fewer doctor visits and days in the hospital. They also had better diet, exercise, and smoking habits.

Quite a relief, right, to learn that worry, anger, disappointment and sadness are all normal and vital emotions that we *need* to experience at times and that we don't have to whistle while we work EVERY SINGLE DAY!

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