Buy Some Happiness (Pt 1)


Booking under: Keith

“Money can’t buy you happiness. But it can get you pretty damn close.” Remarked the sister of a childhood friend. I’ve always been interested by the saying “money can’t buy you happiness”. After all, isn’t it (somewhat) true?

Having studied philosophy, I often like to think of things in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. On one hand, money doesn’t seem to be a necessary condition to happiness – there are many people who are perfectly content living with very little. But at the same time, wealth is also not sufficient for happiness – there are plenty of rich people who are not very happy. So what is the correlation between the two?

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. It seems that money is more of a necessary condition for happiness, at least in the world we live in. Without basic financial resources, we won’t even be able to meet our most basic living needs. And in that scenario, no one can be happy (or at the very least it will be very difficult to be happy). But once we reach a stage where the necessities of life are covered, it seems that having more money does not automatically translate to more happiness.

I suspect Gretchen is right in her belief that money can help buy happiness when used wisely. And in light of that, here are my thoughts for this month:

1. Indulge in a modest splurge


Never had a record collection, but I do have a large collection of CDs from years ago.

I’m not a serial shopper. But once every blue moon, I’ll shell out for something that I need/really want. Gretchen mentions that buying something represents momentary growth, and I think everyone can agree that buying something new brings with it a temporary boost of excitement.

However, the key message for me here wasn’t to only buy something for the sake of it. Gretchen mentioned that we need to make a lifestyle change to make use of the things we buy. So for me, it’s not enough to just buy a new book that I’m interested in. I need to sit myself down and enjoy the book. Only then will the money spent be truly counted as conducive to happiness.

With that said, that will be my commitment for the month. To indulge in a modest splurge and to make use of the things I buy.

2. Spend out


Spending out (our ideas and energy as well as money)

To be fair, this was quite ambiguously titled in the book. I thought “spending out” would mean going out and spending money on something extravagant. Instead, the actual idea behind this is to spend (not just money) when needed and to not hold on to things for the sake of “I might need it later”.

There was a pretty good example of this at work recently. As part of my job, I write thought leadership/blog posts on technology news and Internet privacy (published under a pseudonym on See if you can find me!). I’m given quite a bit of freedom to come up with my own topics and to write on whatever I want. It just so happens that Nicole sent me a wonderful article (I highly recommend you read this) that gave me an idea for a blog post at work. I could have decided to “save it for later” and look for other topics to write on. However, I decided to bring up this idea to my colleagues and it ended up being quite well received. Credits (at least 99% of it) to Nicole!

Summing Up


And that’s it for this month. I decided that the other ideas Gretchen raised (buy needful things, give something up) don’t really apply since I’m not a shopaholic and don’t really have any expenditure categories that are luxuries. So no worries, I’ll still go get my hair cut and make sure I’m eating food at appropriate times.

What are your thoughts on this topic? How essential do you think money is to happiness? And how do you like to spend your money? Let us know your thoughts and Nicole will share hers next week!


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