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Monday, June 22nd/The Price of Happiness

June 22nd, 2009

 

The Price of Happiness

I came across this article in the July 2009 Good Housekeeping magazine that summed up a lot of my philosophy and views toward money.

The article basically says that you can find joy, happiness and contentment no matter what your budget is.

But you have to think carefully about how you spend your money to make this happen.

“The golden rule: Devote your dollars to things that further your goals and beliefs,” said one researcher. “It’s now very clear that nurturing the things that YOU value — whether that’s becoming more cultured or redesigning your garden — is what makes people happier.”

Buying material goods usually only provides temporary happiness and when you set your sights on acquisition, you often only gain the feeling of wanting more. “Purchases that support your own values, however, are more satisfying because they help to boost your feelings of self-worth.”

To “get the most bliss for your buck” you have to think long and hard before you spend your money.

* “One of the best ways to invest in happiness is to focus on DOING rather than OWNING … 57 percent (of people asked) said they got more happiness from things they had done — taking a vacation, riding a bike, strolling through a museum, eating a pretzel with a friend — than from stuff they had bought.”

It’s not only that these activities are fun while we are doing them, it is that we are creating longlasting memories.

One mother of two interviewed in the article said she has “set her financial priorities to create happy memories.

“She isn’t interested in replacing the television she bought in 1988. Instead, she saves her money so she can buy airplane tickets and travel to new places. The jaunts, she says, are exciting stress relievers — even well after they’re over and she’s back at work: ‘I recently spent five days in Paris with my husband, walking down old streets steeped in history. Thinking back on that during an otherwise difficult day relaxes me.”

These memories will bring her happiness for years to come.

“Material things, on the other hand, quickly lose their luster. You may spend hours fantasizing about buying a silk scarf, several days shopping for it and perhaps even some time enjoying it, but not much. Your brain quickly adjusts to the fact that the scarf is folded in your drawer, and before long, you’re so used to its being there, you can barely remember when it wasn’t.

“Once the object of your obsession, now the scarf blends into the background and becomes as normal to you as hot water, Internet access or automatic-drip coffee.”

* Splurge on mini treats. “It may sound counterintuitive, but researchers have found that over time that small, inexpensive indulgences have virtually the same emotional impact as big, pricey ones — making the little things a much better buy.”

Another study examined the purchase of big items versus small ones and the happiness quotient.

“It was the frequent treats of chocolate bars or bottles of wines with takeout dinners that made both groups happy — not the pricier purchase of artwork, designer luggage or CD players.”

So, I’m off to buy my bottle of wine.

Salut.

  1. June 23rd, 2009 at 06:38 | #1

    First, your black skirt is very versatile and the perfect shape and length. Second, that is a fantastic article! Thanks for sharing it. This topic has been on my mind for a while so I’m glad to see you brought it up.

  2. June 23rd, 2009 at 21:28 | #2

    K, this reminds me of the woman who guest posted on my blog about her experience of living in Paris on a meager teacher’s salary. It was the experiences she remembered, not the things that she had.

  3. June 23rd, 2009 at 23:41 | #3

    p.s. Have you tried Yellow Tail wines? These are Australian wines, and I think they are one of the best buys on the market. They don’t make a chianti, but their Cabernet and their Merlot are good table wines, as is the Chardonnay. I’ve been able to get it for as little as $5.98 on sale.

    • Kristi
      June 24th, 2009 at 06:12 | #4

      Thanks, I have seen the bottles and will definitely ty it. I like a California Pinot Grigio called Fish Eye that is very inexpensive. I also buy a dozen or so bottles of Charles Shaw (Three Buck Chuck) whenever I get to Trader Joes. (It is not in my neighborhood). Just as a side note, when I went to my French friend’s housewarming party, they served Charles Shaw. That is one thing I like so much about my friend, she is so chic and yet so down to earth.

  4. June 24th, 2009 at 16:36 | #5

    I just checked out the Charles Shaw wines online; great reviews, and it sounds like a perfect, inexpensive table wine. Like you, I don’t have a Trader Joe’s in my neighborhood, but there are several nearby; I’ll make a trip there next week.

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What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.