Saturday, October 8, 2016

Inspirational Quote for October 8, 2016

“Loving yourself isn’t vanity, it’s sanity.”

If you don’t love yourself then how can you expect anyone else to? If you want to feel loved, cherished and valued, then who better to do the job than the person who knows you best, i.e. you? That’s not vanity it’s common sense. If you love and value who you are as a person, people won’t see this as vanity, they’ll see you as someone who is at peace with who they are and comfortable and content in their own skin. How many people can say that? Make sure you take the necessary steps, if you haven’t already, to be one of them. Promise?


This Van Delivers Human Kindness

"If you want to experience real joy in your life, start giving away, start giving out..." Retired couple Peter Grazier and Nance Cheifetz decided that they wanted to become full-time Fairy Godparents, so in 2003, they sold their Lexus and bought Bodhi, their 1990 Volkswagon kindness van, and have been hitting the streets of the San Francisco Bay Area with lunch and hot chocolate. "Adults should have more fun than they do," says Cheifetz, who encourages everyone to join in the delight in giving.

Friday, October 7, 2016

How to Help Children Unleash Their Potential

By Diana Divecha

Two new books illustrate what children really need from parents and educators.

Today, many parents and educators work vigilantly to guide children along the “right” path, hoping it will lead to a bright future. Adults, naturally, believe they know just what that path should look like, often drawing on their own experience or colleagues’ advice. But this top-down approach often leaves parents feeling pressured, educators struggling, and youth stressed and lagging behind their international peers.
Two new books by developmental scientists work in tandem to rescue children from overinvolved parenting and from outdated educational practices. Their guidance is refreshing and based on decades of solid, cumulative evidence on how children really develop.

Wanted: Parents as gardeners, not carpenters

Alison Gopnik is an internationally recognized developmental scientist and author of The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children. Today’s parents were not raised with the experience of caring for young children, Gopnik says, and so they come to parenthood after extensive education and work, and approach parenting like another subject to be mastered: “Get a book, take a course, and things will come out well.” Parents, she says, believe that if they can just learn the right techniques and do the right things, the child will turn out the right way: well-educated and prepared for success.
Drawing on her own and others’ cognitive research, along with evolutionary theory and philosophy, Gopnik concludes that children were not meant to be “molded” in the way parents are molding them today. Babies and young children should be raised in safe spaces protected by adults, but they are wired to be “explorers” of information and their environment in order to become efficient and innovative in adulthood. They need their freedom protected and made safe in order to mess around.
Babies and toddlers are keen observers of their world, actively and accurately interpreting what people and objects do and why they do it—like little scientists. Preschoolers use words to investigate their world. One study found that preschoolers can ask 75 questions per hour, not as bids for attention but to “extract” information from the adults around them. And through imaginative and pretend play, young children experiment with their understanding of people and objects, preparing them for engagement in their social world later.
Gopnik points out that the messy experimentation of early childhood, along with the intense motivation to explore and take risks in adolescence, is crucial for the human species to innovate, evolve, and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. This implies that education and caregiving should encourage, rather than constrain, exploration. In other words, we shouldn’t seek ways to hammer and nail our children into a predesigned shape, like a carpenter working on a piece of wood. Instead, we should approach children like a gardener would a garden—“providing a rich, stable, safe environment that allows many different kinds of flowers to bloom.” The resulting diversity of outcomes is what allows children to prepare for a future that adults cannot yet see.
The Gardener and the Carpenter is a sophisticated read, not a prescriptive, how-to-parent book.  But it does allow a peek under the hood of how children develop and what they really need from the caring adults around them. The book charts a strong, philosophical course, from which specific actions and decisions naturally follow.
It does falter somewhat, though, in its practical relevance to a world where parents are often pinched between their own desire to “garden” and the demand from schools to be “carpenters.” Here, another new book picks up the baton to offer guidance.

Transforming schools into gardens

In Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, scholars of education, psychology, and cognitive science, make a case for a transformation of education that aligns neatly with Gopnik’s thesis.
According to Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek, our current content-driven approach to educating children is failing. Students are made to be passive consumers of content (or “knowledge digesters”), as if preparing for the world of 1953, rather than becoming the “knowledge transformers” needed in an increasingly competitive global environment. Programs like No Child Left Behind and Common Core—with their focus on “hard skills” and the mastery of content, both very “carpenter”-like approaches to education—have failed children, and teaching has regressed to an emphasis on test preparation.
Children need the kind of education that prepares them to think, be creative, and innovate. Drawing on input from business leaders as well as the science of learning, Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek suggest six core competencies that will create the “thinkers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow”: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creativity, and confidence. The authors detail how these skills build upon each other throughout development and try to point out how each competency can be “scaffolded” (broken down into teachable components) at different ages. However, that section of the book is left sufficiently vague as to be of questionable help to na├»ve parents.
There is converging evidence that Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek are correct in broad strokes and that children and schools do better when there is an emphasis on softer skills, like social and emotional learning. However, just what those soft skills are has not yet been determined in the wider world, and you can find other, well-researched lists of skills from the World Economic Forum, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. While all of these qualities surely correlate, scientists do not truly understand which is most foundational.
So, while perhaps the ship is headed in the right direction, the specific course we should be charting remains to be worked out.

The book to keep on your bedside table

Why should parents, educators, grandparents, and alloparents care about these different frameworks for raising children? Because decades of research show that our beliefs—about the nature of children and about how children best grow and develop—inform our daily practices. If we understand ourselves to be “gardeners,” we will patiently and reliably answer young children’s questions and make safe spaces for risk-taking teens. If we know that children do best when they are encouraged to develop their “soft skills,” we will make sure schools teach with that in mind.
But in moment-to-moment decision-making, it can be hard to suss out a concrete choice of action. That’s why, even as a developmental scientist, I value good nuts-and-bolts advice like the kind you’ll find in Erica Reischer’s What Great Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Fantastic Kids.
Though the title’s hyperbole is unfortunate, her 75 tips are based on sound developmental science and parenting experience. The tips lie at the intersection of “gardening,” secure attachment, authoritative parenting, and soft skills. I would recommend keeping the book handy and reading just one tip every so often. That’s about all busy parents can digest, anyway.

Inspirational Quote for October 7, 2016

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”

Of course it is! In fact, being positive, is what gets most of us out of bed in the morning and keeps us motivated throughout our day. The trick is to hold onto it and keep holding on no matter what negativity we experience, either from people or situations. You have a choice. Determine to be positive in thought and action and therefore have peace of mind knowing you’ve done your best or, think negatively about who or what you’re experiencing and sink further into the pit of total negativity and helplessness? Surely, it serves us better to follow the former option? Onwards and upwards my friends! Who’s with me?


'Love Rounds' at Loma Linda

"Love Rounds" are done at the Loma Linda hospital once a week. "This unique idea was started by Dr. Wil Alexander, PhD, who is currently 94 years old and still teaching and lecturing within the family medicine department. He is not a physician -- he is a minister and professor of religion at Loma Linda University, and brings an important non-medical perspective to the way we learned to look at patients, which I value to this day." In this heart-warming essay, Dr. Turya Nair reflects on the inspiring time she spent at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California and the surprising lessons it taught her about the spirit of service.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How to Teach Happiness at School

By Ilona Boniwell

We can teach students crucial skills of well-being without overhauling the curriculum, Ilona Boniwell explains.

Health is part of every public-school education. But what is health? It’s more than just nutrition and gym class.
As early as 1947, the World Health Organization defined health as a state of mental and social—not just physical—well-being. Today, more and more schools worldwide are integrating social-emotional learning into their curriculum, teaching skills such as self-awareness, empathy, and active listening.
Research demonstrates that happy people are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, relationships, health, longevity, income, and academic and work performance. They are better able to multitask and endure boring tasks, and are more creative, trusting, helpful and sociable
So how do we teach the skills of well-being to students?
A few years ago, working with my colleague Lucy Ryan, we developed a comprehensive Well-Being Curriculum that is now being implemented in many elementary schools and high schools in the UK, France, Japan, and Australia. The Well-Being Curriculum is based on the principles and findings of positive psychology, and can be used with students from about 9-14 years of age. Every other week, for 50 minutes, students learn about the major factors that seem to influence well-being, and they try out happiness-enhancing practices and activities.
A recent study of the program showed that it protected students against the decline in satisfaction with self, satisfaction with friends, and positive emotions—and the increase in negative emotions—that typically occurs in the first years of middle school. Other studies have shown that the schools teaching happiness skills academically outperform the schools teaching a standard health curriculum.
In other words, focusing on well-being can even contribute to the core mission of education. Here are my suggestions for teachers who want to share these lessons with their students.

Teaching positive emotions

The “broaden-and-build” theory of positive emotions, developed by Barbara Fredrickson, shows that positive emotional experiences have long-lasting effects on our personal growth and development. Specifically, positive emotions broaden our attention and thinking, enhance resilience, and build durable personal resources, which fuel more positive emotions in the future.
During this part of the program, we teach the important adaptive functions of both positive and negative emotions, ways to cope with our tendency to focus on the bad things in life, and how to enhance positive emotions through savoring and reminiscence.
We also talk about the importance of relationships, one of the best predictors of happiness. It is well known that strong social ties are at the very core of our well-being, regardless of whether we are introverts or extraverts. Many of the valued strengths, such as kindness and forgiveness, are of an interpersonal nature. Close friendships (not the mere number, but rather their quality) have far greater influence on our happiness than an increase in income.
This part of the program focuses on the basic relationships skills, such as being able to form and maintain friendships, negotiate, listen, and, even more importantly, hear. Forgiveness, kindness, andgratitude are also included, as the main relationship strengths. The stream finishes with happiness across cultures, a lesson that highlights factors that allow countries to flourish, taking the scope of relationships to the planetary level.

How to get started

Teachers often feel pressure to concentrate on forthcoming tests and exams, and spend significant amounts of time on “firefighting”—i.e., dealing with discipline and conflicts. These constraints often mean that it might be difficult, if not impossible, to schedule a well-being class every week.
In this situation, we advise teachers to use the Personal Well-Being Lessons (as well as many other available educational volumes) as piecemeal resources, picking up interventions and activities that can be run one at a time.
Here are a few examples of short activities that you could incorporate into a day’s lesson:

  • Create a What Went Well wall (a whiteboard with colorful markers would do just fine) and ask all students to write three things that went well for them during the lesson, school day, or school week.
  • Run the “Can you hear me?” exercise. Ask the class to form pairs. Instruct student A to talk to Student B for one minute about a topic that excites them, such as a holiday, a hobby, or an adventure. B is instructed to deliberately not listen, appearing uninterested and distracted, though they should not leave their seat or walk away. The teacher stops the exercise as soon as 60 seconds is up. In round two, A is instructed to continue talking for a further minute (again about a topic that excites them), and this time, B should listen, acting genuinely interested without going completely over the top. Students are asked to tell the teacher the emotional effect it had on them when they were being ignored vs. when they were being listened to, and the teacher confirms with students how important it is for us to be listened to.
  • Play “Go fish” with cards from the Happiness Box that also encourage your class to participate in evidence-based positive psychology exercises.
As you begin teaching well-being, don’t be surprised if some of your fellow teachers are a bit skeptical. When we brought the Well-Being Curriculum to two schools in London, one teacher talked about facing resistance from other staff. “They think it’s just loads of clap-trap” because, she said, “it’s not real work, you are not writing stuff down, you are not being tested every week…and there is no nice little certificate that you can have at the end of five years.” 
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Given their importance for the future mental health of our nations, happiness and well-being skills deserve to be taken seriously—and teachers can lead the charge, one classroom at a time.

Inspirational Quote for October 6, 2016

“Don’t ruin a good day today, because of a bad day yesterday.”

Human nature though isn’t it? Allowing whatever made yesterday a bad day to cling to us like a big ball of Velcro and stay with us into today! Going over and over in our mind about whatever or whoever made our day hell, thinking the same thoughts, what if we’d done this, or what if we’d done that……….? Think about it sensibly for a moment okay? This makes the present day hell too, and the day after that, and the day……. So, we’re going to take a deep breath, mentally agree to whatever it is being left where it belongs, i.e. yesterday, and get on with the day we’re in. Bye bye Velcro!


Elle Luna: The Crossroads of Should & Must

"If you want to know Must, get to know Should. This is hard work. Really hard work. We unconsciously imprison ourselves to avoid our most primal fears. We choose Should because choosing Must is terrifying, incomprehensible. Our prison is constructed from a lifetime of Shoulds, the world of choices we have unwittingly agreed to, the walls that alienate us from our truest, most authentic selves. Should is the doorkeeper to Must. And just as you create your prison, you can set yourself free." Artist and designer Elle Luna shares more in an essay that struck a deep chord for readers around the globe.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How to Find Prejudice Hidden in Our Words

By Jenn Director Knudsen

The language we choose reflects our implicit biases—but according to a new study, mindfulness can help.

Language can reveal our hidden beliefs and biases, such as the assumption that men are stronger at science than women, or blondes are less intelligent than brunettes, or blacks are more violent than whites. And this insidious form of prejudice can be devastating: When young girls are called bossy, for example—a trend brought to the spotlight by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg—they’re discouraged from becoming leaders.
But research indicates that mindfulness may help counter implicit bias—and a recent study published in the journal Mindfulness suggests it can do so for the hidden biases in our language.
Researchers call this type of implicit bias “linguistic intergroup bias” (LIB). It means that individuals expect people in their “in-group” to behave positively and expect those in their “out-group” to behave negatively; in turn, they see these behaviors as reflections of character, and those judgments are reflected in their word choice.
To measure LIB, the researchers asked 84 Emory University students to assign descriptions to cartoons depicting adults in different scenarios. For example, one image showed a person hitting another person. While this could simply be described as one person hitting another, it could also be described as someone being “aggressive.” The first description is factual and accurate; the second makes an inference about character.
If participants were biased, they would tend to use factual descriptions when the cartoon characters represented someone in their group and judgmental descriptions when it represented an outsider. And that’s just what the researchers found, when they instructed participants to imagine the characters as either friends or enemies and then fully immerse themselves in their thoughts and feelings.
But could mindfulness alter this dynamic? Another group in the study was asked to mindfully attend to the cartoons, meaning to observe their thoughts as fleeting mental constructions not really part of the cartoon event. For this group, their tendency to provide biased responses lessened.
Often, stereotypes—about, say, individuals’ appearance, behaviors, academic prowess, or lack thereof—are deeply engrained, the product of years of biased thinking. Mindfulness seems to be a potential antidote to linguistic bias in the short-term and, the researchers hope, also in the longer term with more practice.
“Regardless of our intentions, the language we use may implicitly or explicitly transmit bias in the form of stereotypes and prejudice,” write Lauren Ann McDonough Lebois of Harvard Medical School and colleagues Moses M. Tincher of Emory University and Lawrence W. Barsalou of the University of Glasgow. But “accumulating evidence suggests that mindfulness reduces stereotypical and prejudicial cognition.”
Interacting with people who are different from us—members of an “out-group”—can be stressful, and this is partly where mindfulness might play a role. In addition to interrupting our initial biased thinking patterns, it could also change our physical responses. Relegating prejudiced thoughts to being “just thoughts” that will pass may reduce their influence; clammy hands could be a thing of the past—and so could the prejudiced words coming out of our mouths.

Inspirational Quote for October 5, 2016

“Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions.”

I guess we have all been guilty of this at some time or another, I know I have. Sometimes we are just too nice, too trusting, and too easily led. Over time, it may become a pattern and a way of life so that we just fall into going along with somebody else’s perception of how we should feel or react. Perhaps it’s time for a personal “wake up call” when we all take a moment to stop and think if this relates to someone in our lives? If so, time to take charge. Initially, It may not be easy to put this into practice but persevere, as once you’ve learned this lesson, you won’t need any revision in the future.


Zilong Wang: Medicine Journey

The quiet directness of Zilong Wang, his articulate, measured way of speaking and something so open about him makes an immediate impression. If one is around him very much at all, its impossible not to feel, in some measure, hope for our future. Because he was soon leaving on a solo bicycle pilgrimage across the U.S. and ultimately around the globe, I asked if we could record a conversation before he left. We met a couple of days later to talk, but first he handed me a lovely ink drawing his grandmother had done

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Six Ways to Get More Happiness for Your Money

By Kira M. Newman

More than a decade of research looks at how our spending choices can make us happier—or leave us disappointed.

When we think about spending our money wisely, we usually focus on getting the best value for the lowest price. We comparison shop and download apps to find the latest discounts and deals; we’re seduced by the daily special or the limited-time offer.
But, for those of us lucky enough to have disposable income, what if we defined wise spending in terms of the happiness that it brings? That’s a completely different way of thinking about our purchases, and one that we have little practice in.
“Most people don’t know the basic scientific facts about happiness—about what brings it and what sustains it—and so they don’t know how to use their money to acquire it,” write Elizabeth Dunn and her colleagues in a 2011 study.
Luckily, more than a decade of research has been investigating how different types of purchases affect our well-being, and it can help us turn spending into a happiness practice in its own right. The key, it seems, is to spend money in ways that bring you closer to other people.

1. Spend money on experiences

In a landmark study in 2003, researchers found that buying experiences—like seeing a Broadway play or going for coffee with a friend—improve our well-being more than buying possessions. Across different surveys, more than 1,500 participants tended to say that experiential purchases made them happier and were better investments, and that their moods were more positive when recalling them.
Thus began more than a decade of research into this phenomenon, unearthing some of the reasons why buying experiences is so beneficial—which can inform our financial choices in the future.
But first, some definitions: Although the distinction between experiences and material goods is sometimes fuzzy (think: books and cars), we tend to intuitively understand which is which. Researchers typically define experiences as things we buy in order to do something, which don’t endure in the form of a possession; and material goods as things we buy in order to have something.

2. Better yet, spend money on experiences you share with others

Not all experiences are created equal, though, and it’s up to us to choose the ones that are most fulfilling. In a 2013 study, when researchers separated out experiential purchases into social ones and solitary ones—going out to dinner with friends or alone, for example—participants reported that the solitary experiences brought just as little happiness as the material things.
“It may be less the doing that creates happiness than it is sharing the doing,” the authors of that study explain.
Even if we can’t share an experience with others initially, we can share it with them later by telling the story—another advantage that experiences have over material things. Our new kitchen gadget or trench coat loses its conversation value shortly after we buy it, but “talking to others allows us to relive experiences long after they have happened. In this sense, experiential purchases are gifts that keep on giving,” write the authors of a 2015 study.
In fact, that study found that the more we chatter about our experiential purchases, the more happiness we derive from them. This’ll make a great story later is actually a real benefit. A 2012 study also found that people are more likely to mention experiences they bought (vs. material things) when recounting their life story.
With a little change in perspective, though, we can extract more happiness from our possessions by focusing on the experiences they facilitate. At least three different studies found that thinking about gray-area purchases like music and TVs more as experiences than objects helped people see them as more self-expressive and reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse. So the next time you buy a new flat-screen, think of it not as a fancy piece of technology but as a prop for cozy evenings with your spouse, and you might enjoy it all the more.
The story emerging from the research is that experiences become part of our identity, which makes them feel valuable in their own right. Compared to possessions, we worry less about what others will think of our experiences, and they don’t generate the same kind of regret. If anything, we lament the experiences we didn’t buy: the shows we were too busy to attend, the trips we put off. Though experiences may be fleeting, they’re essential to our happiness—so now you’ve got a science-backed excuse to invest in them.

3. Spend money on other people

If you want to bond with other people, you could buy experiences to have with them—or you could spend money on them directly.
In a 2008 study, researchers gave participants up to $20 to spend on themselves or on others that same day, then called after 5 pm to see how they were feeling. In the end, contrary to expectations, participants reported being happier after treating others than treating themselves. The same was true of employees who spent more of their bonuses on donations and gifts, rather than personal expenses and treats.
And this effect may not be restricted to rich, white Westerners. For a 2013 study, researchers gave participants in Canada and South Africa the choice to get $2.50 in cash, take home a $3 goody bag, or give a $3 goody bag to a sick child. Those who made the generous decision reported greater positive emotion at the end of the experiment, in both countries. So did participants in India who simply remembered purchases made for others, compared to remembering purchases for themselves or not recalling anything in particular.
But just because it typically feels good to spend on others doesn’t mean that all generous purchases make us feel warm and fuzzy. Research is starting to understand exactly when so-called “prosocial” spending contributes to well-being, and how to find the most fulfillment in giving.
For example, another 2013 study distinguished between spending on others that strengthens our social connections and spending on others that doesn’t. Researchers gave participants a $10 Starbucks gift card to use that day, in one of four ways: treating themselves to a coffee alone, giving the card to someone else, taking a friend but spending the card on themselves, or taking a friend and treating them. In the end, the happiest participants were the last group: the ones who combined spending on others with social connection (and venti caramel lattes).

4. Spend money on the right people

Does it matter whom we spend money on? Preliminary research suggests that it might. In a 2011 study, participants who recalled spending $20 on someone close to them reported feeling more positive emotion than those who recalled spending $20 on an acquaintance. In the context of evolution, the researchers explain, this makes sense: Early humans who enjoyed helping family members were more likely to see their DNA survive.
The research about spending on others is particularly relevant when we consider donating to charity. For example, it’s important for donors to see the positive impact: When Canadians were given the chance to donate to the charities UNICEF or Spread the Net, bigger donors reported feeling more positive emotion and more satisfaction with life than smaller donors—but only those who gave to Spread the Net, whose pamphlets emphasize that a single bed net can prevent malaria and save a child’s life.
Simon Fraser University assistant professor Lara Aknin, who was involved in both of these studies, applies this research to her own life by treating friends and family to small gifts, and trying to make donations that have a big impact. The upshot of her research is that if giving leaves you feeling detached or drained, there may be smarter ways to allocate your dollars so everyone can benefit.
As you might have noticed, almost all of this research asks people to recall spending from the past, or contemplate imaginary choices. Researchers will gain even greater insight when they start to survey participants in real-time to see how they’re feeling about their purchases, like this 2016 study did, or follow them for years after a purchase to see how those feelings change with time.

5. Express your identity through spending

Although dozens of studies support the notion that spending on experiences and other people is advantageous in general, perhaps you’re skeptical. Sure, that may be true for other people, but not for me, you might think—and in some cases, you just might be right. Once general trends are identified, the researchers of a2016 study explain, the science of happy spending will have to start accounting for individual needs and preferences.
For example, demographics and personality may influence how spending affects our happiness.  Several studies found some evidence that the happiness advantage of experiential purchases (over material ones) is even stronger for women than it is for men; in that pioneering 2003 study, it was also stronger for young people, highly educated people, and city dwellers.
In contrast, people who behave more materialistically—tending to accumulate possessions rather than experiences—seem to derive equal happiness from both types of purchases, a 2014 study found. Why? Researchers discovered that experiences are less critical to their identity; these aren’t people who define themselves by the things they’ve done, like the fun-loving adventurers who splurge on plane tickets or the foodies first in line at five-star restaurants.
Meanwhile, and perhaps unsurprisingly, people who have little concern for others don’t seem to derive greater happiness from prosocial rather than selfish spending. Future research will have to investigate whether all these findings are merely blips, or evidence of real and robust differences. 
A 2016 study specifically tested whether personality influences the happiness we get from our purchases, analyzing six months’ worth of spending by customers of a UK bank. Purchases were grouped into 59 categories, from gardening to coffee shops, accounting to dentists, which each got aBig Five personality score. (Spending on charities might reflect conscientiousness and agreeableness, for example, while spending on tourism might reflect openness to experience and extraversion.) Participants with a better match between their personality and the personality of their purchases reported more satisfaction with life.
In a follow-up study, the researchers contrasted two stereotypically opposite purchases: shopping in the quiet, reflective haven of a bookstore or the bustling, social environment of a bar. They found that spending $10 at a bookstore increased the happiness of introverts, and spending at a bar increased the happiness of extroverts—but not vice versa.
“Money enables us to lead a life we want,” says coauthor Sandra Matz, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. As she and her coauthors write, “Finding the right products to maintain and enhance one’s preferred lifestyle could turn out to be as important to well-being as finding the right job, the right neighborhood, or even the right friends and partners.”

6. Think less about spending

In the end, though, the best way to cultivate happiness through spending may be to not focus on spending so much in the first place.
In one 2002 study, for example, researchers found that adults were happier around Christmas—feeling more satisfied, more positive, and less stressed by the holiday craziness—when they put greater emphasis on family and religion and less emphasis on giving and receiving. Just this year, a new study found that people who valued time over money tended to be more satisfied with their lives in general and felt more positive and less negative emotions recently.
It’s certainly misguided to stake all our hopes of happiness on our purchases. But so is ignoring the role that they do play in our well-being, a role that is becoming clearer and clearer. Buying is an opportunity to express our personality, to connect with others, and to craft a meaningful life story, and what better definition is there of money well spent?