Wednesday, March 29

How To Buy Happiness. Cheap.

Everything I ever wanted to hear!

How To Buy Happiness. Cheap.
Is having lots of bucks not bringing you lots of bliss? Maybe the problem is all in your head

By David Futrelle
October 1, 2004

(MONEY Magazine) – Make love, not money. That was the most unusual message of a research note this summer from stock strategist James Montier at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, urging his well-heeled clients to set aside thoughts of stocks for a moment and to focus instead on the things that really make folks happy—namely love, sex, exercise and sleep.

As frivolous as it sounds, this is much better advice than you'll usually hear from Wall Street. For all the energy we spend chasing the green stuff, studies reveal that for most people the old saw is all too true: Money won't buy you happiness.

Sure, in any given country at any given point in time, the rich tend to be a bit happier than the poor. But across-the-board increases in living standards don't seem to make people any happier. Disposable income for the average American has grown about 80% since 1972, but the percentage describing themselves as "very happy" (roughly a third) has barely budged over the years, according to the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center.

Why is this? Well, as Cornell University economist Robert Frank notes, we humans are highly adaptable animals, quickly adjusting our expectations to new realities. As living standards increase, most of us respond by raising our own standards. Things that once seemed luxuries now seem necessities. Call it the "once they've seen Paris" effect. As a result, we're working harder than ever to buy stuff that satisfies us less and less.

How to snap this vicious cycle? New research in psychology and economics offers practical suggestions on how to increase your consumer satisfaction—without increasing spending.

• IF YOU CAN'T BE WITH THE STUFF YOU LOVE, LOVE THE STUFF YOU'RE WITH. Research by Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, found that people encouraged to keep "gratitude journals" were far more satisfied with their lives than those who weren't encouraged to accentuate the positive. So don't waste your life fretting over what you ain't got. Give thanks for what you have—it can actually do you good.

• SPEND SELECTIVELY. Splurge only on those things that really bring you lasting pleasure; skimp on the rest. If you're a true-blue cinephile with a DVD collection to rival Roger Ebert's, it might make sense to invest in a plasma TV. But for most of us a cheaper alternative is more than good enough.

• DON'T BUY THINGS, BUY FREEDOM. While people easily adjust to bigger houses and cars, stress is stress no matter how rich or poor you are. As Frank notes, commuting through congestion is miserable for most of us, whether we've been doing it for four months or 40 years, and an assortment of studies shows that commutes (even as short as 15 minutes a day) can have serious and measurable effects on health. (There's a reason bus drivers seem so grumpy all the time.) If you're working endless hours to finance a lifestyle that isn't making you happy, consider cutting back your hours and getting by on less. It may not be easy to do, but in the long run it's likely to make you far happier than a new SUV ever could. —DAVID FUTRELLE

Wednesday, March 8

Blog Rule #1: Actually blog from time to time

Sorry about my lack of posting. I have apparently hit another dry patch. Well to be honest, I've hit an anxiety patch. This past week, I've been anxious about something or another every day. It's tiring and not too fun or interesting. Not to mention, the weather has been quite ho-hum lately with lots of rain and clouds. The rain kept me inside most of this last weekend and the gray sky looks a little to scary. Our IKEA finally opened, and I've yet to go see the new store in all it's grandeur.

1. Clean My Face
First time, I've made it through my monthly flow without a zit. I have noticed lately that I have been going to bed without washing my face. I always catch myself but seems I'm starting to forget. Got to keep up the good work.

3. Lose Weight
I can't believe it but I lost 4 pounds last week! I was completely shocked. I really had figured I'd gain weight because of the flow but nope. I lost and I lost big time! I'm official 12 pounds down! Woot, woot! I also found a new breakfast that I'm really digging: Hummus, baby carrots, cheese, and fruit cup.

5. Start walking
I've kept up on my walking and the 4 pound loss really motivated me! Nothing like a major loss to encourage you to keep exercising. My office workers are talking about getting me to talk at least 4 times a week. EEP! I think I'm going to take it very slowly.

Wednesday, March 1

Wha? I have a blog..

Otherwise Known As.."I completely forgot to post!"

My mind has been elsewhere lately and I'm not all together too certain where elsewhere is. Maybe the weather in elsewhere is nicer than here. Lately it's been rainy and then it gets sunny right at 10 'til noon, so I think about going for a walk at lunch, but then 10 minutes later it's rainy/hailing/nasty. But today was beautiful. A bit cold but nice and I really enjoyed the walk. Note to self: Buy yourself some shoe supports.

1. Clean My Face
Well little more than a month after dedicating myself to washing my face, and I can go without wearing cover up make up. My face isn't perfect, you can still see uneven skin tone, etc. but I'm zit free and happy. This week is my "on the flo" week so I'm keeping an eye out on my skin and dabbing on some extra zit creme during lunch.

3. Lose Weight
Since it is the week of the flo, I'm not sure how I'm going to do at the scales this weekend. Typically I've gained but I've learned a lot this week. You really do have to write down every single thing you eat. I've been flaking on that during this time and the last, so I'm being extra dilligent. I'm hoping to be down 10 pounds by April!

5. Start walking
This week, as I mentioned, the rain has been playing havoc with my schedule. I need to get one more run in this week. I'm hoping tomorrow will be decent.