We’ve heard it over and over again – money can’t buy happiness.
Or can it?
New research suggests that using money to buy yourself free time is actually linked to increased well-being.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study in 2017 that confirmed it: Buying time promotes happiness.
According to their findings incomes are rising, and with that has come to an unintended consequence: Time scarcity.
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We are overextending ourselves in everyday tasks. Work hours are increasing, the kids are busier, mothers and fathers are both working, and we can’t keep up. Often we are run ragged. I’m a full-time working mom and I can relate. (Read here for ways moms and dads can slow it all down and regain their sanity.) Most days I’m skipping from task to task, frazzled, rushed and tired, and it feels impossible to stay on top of it.
If only there were more hours to the day. What usually happens is our nightly sleep is sacrificed, which often leaves us feeling like a zombie from The Walking Dead. And who wants to feel like this day after day?
The cycle is never-ending, and at times it feels like there is no way to get off the hamster wheel.
LET’S GET TO IT, SHALL WE!!!
Why not use money to buy time?
But what if you opened up the wallet book and shelled out a $100 bucks for a cleaner? Wouldn’t this save you a number of hours each week? Is this really linked to greater well-being? Studies would indicate so, stressed decreased and well-being increased.
And has a mindfulness advocate I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree.
But, material goods do not produce this effect.
Let’s take a look at the cycle of purchasing material goods:
We think that something (an object of our desire) will make us happy, in fact, we often obsess over this object, thinking that it (insert anything here – big screen TV, new boots, latest iPhone…) is the key to our happiness.
But the problem is that these pleasures are short-lived, temporary, and because they are temporary, so is their pleasure.
They often can’t live up to the promises of everlasting joy and bliss our mind promised.
We usually experience a brief honeymoon phase with the object of our desire, because when we get our new goodie, such as a new iPhone, our mind becomes quiet.
This is a mind that is no longer obsessing. And when your mind is quiet, what follows is intense satisfaction, and because it feels so good, you mistakenly think happiness came from these outer objects.
Because the reality is that happiness is coming from a still, quiet mind.
But this still, quiet bliss doesn’t last, and our mind is quickly onto its next obsession…and then the next….and then the next.
Material possessions don’t provide the deep, lasting happiness that most of us are truly after.
Effects of more time
But on the other hand, freeing up precious time gives you the opportunity to slow down, enjoy a hobby, or your children.
Essentially take some you time, and this will quiet the mind and body, and when you are quiet inside, you naturally become happy.
Getting down on the carpet and playing with your kids puts you into the present moment automatically…
…going for a walk has the same effect.
And putting yourself into the present moment is arguably one of the secret sauces for a happy life.
Having time to engage in present moment activities without glancing around at the dirty counters in a guilt-riddled haze gives you the rare opportunity to truly relax.
And doing this on a regular basis — results in — you guessed it, happiness.
Many people cringe at the thought of paying someone to mow their lawn or clean their house because they know exactly how much money they are losing and it’s difficult to put a value on the happiness you are gaining. But when you get over the guilt and realize you feel less stressed, healthier in mind, body, and spirit, you will come to realize that the expense is actually invaluable.
Ideas of things to spend money on
• Using the toll bridge or paid highways to save time.
• Choosing to live near work to save time. (Many live far from work to decrease city center cost of living.)
• Online grocery shopping to save time. (This is my personal favorite).
• Hire a cleaner or maintenance man.
• Shop at the grocery store closest to you even though it’s more expensive.
• Subscribe to a meal plan or order take-out.
What’s interesting is that this study wasn’t just conducted on the wealthy class. All incomes, careers, and countries reported the exact same findings.
And what’s truly remarkable about this concept is that when people are spending their money on time savings techniques, happiness isn’t even on their minds, it just happens. They are just happier without even trying.
So open up the wallet, shell out a few bucks to save some time, it might just make your day.
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. Are you spending money anywhere to save time?
Tina Williamson is the writer and founder of Mindfulmazing, a peaceful parenting blog that guides busy moms and dads to tune into what matters most, and, ultimately, create a happy life! Tina shares strategies and advice for raising responsible, mindful, and resilient kids.
In 2019, Tina created the popular eBook, “Mighty Mindful Kids,” a mindfulness activity book that helps kids with focus, emotional regulation, awareness, and connection. This helped so many families (including her own) that she created several printable resources for parents, teachers, and therapists.
Stay tuned for Tina’s Amazing Me Growth Mindset Journal for Kids being published in the spring of 2021.