The Secret To Happiness

Sep 1 2011 @ 9:32am

by Patrick Appel

David Brooks distills it after studying happiness research:

Buy experiences instead of things; buy many small pleasures instead of a few big ones; pay now for things you can look forward to and enjoy later.

Yglesias nods. J.L. Wall challenges Brooks' methodology. And Jonah Lehrer asks why we aren't better at following Brooks' advice: 

I’m genuinely puzzled by our failure to spend money properly. In general, human intuition improves with experience – it gets better as we put in those 10,000 hours of practice, so to speak. And yet, this doesn’t appear to be true when it comes to our intuitions about the pursuit of happiness. After all, we’ve all got extensive experience with pleasure. We know exactly what we enjoy. Nevertheless, this abundance of experience doesn’t lead to better purchases over time. Either psychologists can’t measure happiness or human beings with disposable income are very confused.