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Happiness Economics -- and Maintenance!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


In recent years, there's been lots of great new research on happiness psychology. From an emotional perspective, it appears that an ebullient personality is in part hereditary -- but optimism and resilience can also be quite deliberately learned. I believe that's so: and that most of us (barring intermittent life crises) are just about as happy as we choose to be. (Yeah, I know that sounds tough: but happiness isn't chocolate syrup that someone else will pour over my head . . . no it's not).

What about money? So many people spend so much on lotteries and casinos. And yet research also indicates that most people aren't actually happier after scoring a big lottery win. Lotteries bug me frankly: I think of them as a voluntary tax on the poor and the credulous, and I don't think governments should fund essential services through gambling. Even if they call it "gaming"!!

The conventional wisdom is that you "can't buy happiness".

But: there are ways of spending money that do tend to increase contentment.

1. Buying experiences instead of "stuff";

2. Being conscious that a particular item or experience is a "treat": keeping it special;

3. Spending money to free up time (so often, buying a new gadget actually uses up time: hmmmmm);

4. Paying for the new experience or item first: planning and saving for the vacation/big screen TV in advance means I'll enjoy it more!

5. Giving to others rather than spending on me me me. Yeah.

All worth thinking about. And: I think in many ways transferable to "weight loss maintenance" economics too! Maybe like this . . .

1. Doing new things (not even necessarily exercise!) instead of eating stuff, because there are more ways of experiencing pleasure than through the mouth . . . ;

2. Really tasting those fresh raspberries, every one of 'em . . . and reminding myself they're a better treat than potato chips (they are way more beautiful to look at, to smell, and yup they really do taste better, and don't leave my mouth all dehydrated either);

3. The prewashed lettuces and preshredded carrots may cost a tiny bit more: but if they save time so I'm more likely to make salads for my lunches they are worth it, right? Especially if the alternative is a more expensive high calorie fast food burger and fries!

4. Tracking my nutrition today for tomorrow: already "paid for"!! And within calorie budget!!

5. Giving to others? Actually, what works for me is NOT giving others the power to get me eating stuff I don't wanna be eating . . . but I'm prepared to share some of my soup now and again . . . if the recipient really and truly is prepared to appreciate it!! This week is a gorgeous minestrone!!

Yeah!! There are a lot of connections between weight loss maintenance and money . . . and when I run up my "calorie credit card", it's a real burden to lug around the extra pounds!!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    well one thing I do know is if I keep busy I eat less.... lol... as for buying lettuce that has been prewashed.... its a waste of time and money ...for it just rots faster! lol And I learned that giving is good because I have learned that you cant outgive G*D! You cant, and if I could I would give away my excess weight.... lol . Good blog! Hugs susana
    1799 days ago
    Very good blog - certainly made me stop and think. I really agree with your number 1.

    1. Buying experiences instead of "stuff";

    My best memories are vacations with the family or a day at the beach. The softball games and training table following the games! Memories.

    The stuff - usually gets donated, tossed or just packed away.

    You are spot on!


    1800 days ago
    This was soooooo good! And calorie free too! ;)
    1800 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    1800 days ago
    Great blog. Great analogy. Thanks. emoticon
    1801 days ago
    Great blog! I love the analogies you've created between spending money and maintaining weight loss.
    1801 days ago
    Awesome thoughts. They also say losing weight won't make you happy, which is kind of yes and no.
    1801 days ago
    Love this blog! You know, I call it "over-ing" and I find it all goes together. When I'm in self-care mode, there is little to no over-ing - I don't over eat, over spend, over tax myself, etc.
    1801 days ago
  • NANCY-
    "Sun-drenched life free from worry and stress is an illusion."
    Say it isn't so!!!

    I read the article, then read your blog. Wish I had read your blog first. Love the way you think. The application of happiness to "weight loss maintenance" or "healthy lifestyle" economics does make total sense.
    Taking care of our needs and making life easier does take the stress out of our lives, increasing our sense of security/comfort and helps us. It is nice to have healthy plan B options too.
    1801 days ago
    Love your 'transfer' ideas!!!!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1801 days ago
    A friend asked if we're buying mementos on our travels - we said no, we don't have room, and we don't have a home to put mementos - we're just collecting experiences.

    Glad to know that's a better investment in our happiness!
    1801 days ago
    I really enjoy the way you think -- your metaphor that happiness is not chocolate syrup cracked me up. I also love how you extended the whole line of inquiry into the arena of weight loss.

    It's all true...although emoticon in my experience pre-shredded carrots taste a bit like baling twine.
    1801 days ago
    Great points as usual...agreed on the questionable ethics of lotteries & added grief & hassle of new gadgets!

    1801 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Interesting article and interesting insights. I buy the premade lettuce also. It saves me time. I do not enjoy giving others the power over what I eat. I am always happy to find people enjoying vegetables they never liked before.

    1801 days ago
  • _LINDA
    I don't play the lotteries -I think its a waste of time and money. I spend it on a charity I support and don't even bother to check or watch if I win anything -I don't expect to. Too bad Onekidsmom's ticket didn't win the powerball ;) I certainly prefer to do things rather then have possessions just need some free time to get away. A simple hike is far more enjoyable to me then sitting on my backside watching TV or a movie. Exploring new areas can't be beat. Seeing new wonders of nature and hearing their song is music to my ears.
    Yes, can't wait until the Farmers start bringing in fresh produce, although our season is so very delayed here :( The anticipation and wait is going to be hard..
    Love your last line, well said!!
    1802 days ago
  • DALID414
    I love minestrone! emoticon pass the soup please emoticon
    1802 days ago
    That makes three of us! Loved the insights and focus!
    1802 days ago
    emoticon Outstanding insights... all common sense. Methinks we think a lot alike.
    1802 days ago
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