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I stopped buying stuff, and started buying happiness instead.

I stopped buying stuff, and started buying happiness instead.

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Hear me out, money does buy happiness - you just need to know how to spend it. 

Last week, I got my first paycheck after a significant hike. It made me happy, without doubt, but for all of 48 hours. By the end of the weekend, I was back to wondering what it would feel like if I had a little more money. You know, just a little more. One thing led to another, and it got me thinking - What I really wanted was a little more dopamine. The rush I felt seeing a salary credit is unparalleled. 

Is there a way I can make that last?

The Dope thing about Dopamine

We all know the feeling. Looking at money has a psychologically-proven effect on the reward centres of our brains. Because when you see money, what you’re really seeing is all the potential it has - the things you can buy, the vacations you can take, all the places you can swipe your card, the food you can eat… This is in fact money buying you happiness. 

But our minds have minds of their own. And those scheming little dopamine dispensers in our heads, squirt out a little less of that happy feeling with each passing purchase. Explains why the 10th thing you buy with your salary doesn’t feel as thrilling as the first.

Now what if, and hear me out, there was a hack to make every time feel like the first time? 

That’s like buying happiness and locking it up with you. And that means you don’t have to go from purchase to purchase to get a dopamine hit every time.Think back to the last time buying something made you happy. Hold on to that feeling, chop it up into little bits, and savour it one piece at a time. That’s savouring.

Savour it. Save it:

Savouring is the act of delaying that rush by preparing for it. It’s the feeling you get days before you go on a vacation. Just that, you never actually go anywhere.

It’s setting yourself up for something huge, and just enjoying the wait. 

Here’s how you can savour:

  1. Set aside a little money on whim: Doesn’t have to be like a systematic routine.. Or something you only do when you get your paycheck. Do it because you felt like it.
  2. Watch it grow: Look up how much you’ve saved as often as you’d check how many views your reel got. It starts to feel good.
  3. Fantasise hitting the milestones: Think about what you’ll probably say to a friend or on your IG when your savings hits a milestone. Maybe do a throwback, dance to a song, or cook something special.

Try paying for experiences, not things:

Think about the last time you ordered something online - an actual thing that you can hold in your hands. The wait for it to arrive would have driven you insane. 

Now contrast this to booking a holiday. Every waking moment would’ve given you something to look forward to. 

What you’ve really done is a simple hack that delays gratification, and relies on the power of imagination. You don’t know for sure what wonders your vacation holds for you. And the act of counting down to it is an added thrill. 

That’s money buying you a steady stream of joy. 

The next time you’re overcome with the urge to hit ‘add to cart’, hold off on it. Maybe put that money into a holiday fund, look up places to stay while the fund grows, or what you’d wear on the flight. And then maybe, you’d agree that money can buy happiness.


1. What happens when you stop buying stuff?

A whole lot  happens when you stop buying unnecessary stuff - From your savings to your relationships, buying less makes everything better. With more time on your hands, you can now spend quality hours with loved ones or pursue hobbies. You also save more which gives you the opportunity to invest more and build wealth. Overall, it can reduce financial anxiety and make you feel great about controlling your money. 

2. Why does buying stuff not make me happy?

The happiness that comes with buying things is generally very short lived. The dopamine rush of getting your hands on something new dies down quickly, plus there’s always something new and better right around the corner. No matter how much one buys, there’s always someone who owns more, or owns something shinier. Moreover, once the initial excitement of a purchase ends, we often realize about the effort we have to put in maintaining and protecting it. Apart from this, if you’ve taken a loan for a purchase, the stress of debt never really leaves your side.

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