Money Can Buy Happiness, If We’re Emotionally Intelligent About It
Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.” ~ Woody Allen
After decades of research, many of us have come to accept the conclusion that money does not equate to happiness. The evidence from research points to little relationship to our overall well-being after we have reached a certain level of baseline wealth. While the exact amount varies, it is believed that once we are able to meet our basic needs, are comfortable and have a little extra, we will not be much happier if that amount increases.
To dig even deeper into the relationship between money and our happiness, researchers (Dunn, Gilbert & Wilson, 2011) studied what people were spending their money on. Their research suggested that money could result in increased well-being if it was spent on experiences rather than material possessions. Other researchers have found that it is individual differences that account for the happiness that the purchases bring, rather than the actual purchases.
A brand new study by Matz.et al, (2016) looked at the spending habits of 625 people and how it matched their personalities. They found that it wasn’t the amount spent, but the degree to which spending matched people’s personalities that determined how much happiness they received from their purchases. Those who were the happiest with their spending were the most self-aware, a basic aspect of emotional intelligence.
Here are 5 Ways that emotional intelligence can help us to enjoy our money more.
Knowing Ourselves and What Makes us Happy
Sadly many people are not in touch with their emotions and have no real idea of what they want and what makes them happy. For them, spending money will be a hit and miss affair as they will be unable to establish any kind of a relationship between what they are spending money on and what increases their happiness. Being in touch with our emotions and what makes us happy allows us to focus our time and resources on providing ourselves with more of the items that make us happy.
Less Inclined to Follow Other’s Expectations
How many people do you know followed their father or mother’s career path and found out it didn’t work for them? The same thing goes with spending money. People who don’t know themselves well, can easily get caught in the trap of watching how family or others are influential in their lives in the way they spend their money and follow suite. Self-aware people differentiate their needs and expectations from that of others and are better able to withstand the pressure of criticism from others. While open to advice and learning from outside their immediate circle, they rely upon their own judgement and resources when it comes to their spending.
Able To Delay Gratification
Knowing what we want in life allows us to deny ourselves immediate rewards in lieu of working towards a goal that will give us greater satisfaction in the end. When we see the results of struggling towards an end that we deeply desire and end up achieving it, we are able to appreciate the results that much more. Knowing what we want and striving to achieve, gives our lives’ purpose, meaning and fulfilment.
Relishing the Journey
People who are more self-aware are able to find ways to reward themselves on their journey, even if it is only in small ways. For them, small pleasures that cost little but are very satisfying help along the way to achieving larger and better goals. Knowing what pleases us allows us to treat ourselves along the way, in turn motivating to keep going towards larger goals. Whatever your income level, make the most of it by identifying what gives you the most satisfaction for the buck. If unable to afford what you want, you are able to substitute for something much less expensive which will still give some satisfaction. It is never all or nothing so be flexible in finding affordable ways to reward yourselves in satisfying ways.
People who are in a state of gratitude for what they have are more likely to find enjoyment when they’re able to afford to buy more. They are less likely to fall into a cycle of never ending purchases that bring diminished and shorter periods of satisfaction. Being dissatisfied with what they already have, will have a tendency to try to keep up with the Joneses, ending up in an endless spiral of spending on things they may not really want or need. This allows them to spend the time and effort to savor and truly enjoy whatever it is they purchase. Already feeling happy allows grateful people to take their time and look for just the right purchase. Unhappy people that are feeling dissatisfied will tend to rush into purchases with the hope and belief that their feelings will change when they find the latest and shiniest object.