February, 2009 Archive

How to buy happiness

February 24th, 2009 by Christiane

If you belong to the few lucky ones, who still have some extra cash to spend, don’t “waste” it on the newest gadgets. Instead, buy yourself happiness. You may need it in a tough time like now.

“One can’t buy happiness”, I hear you saying. Well, Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, begs to differ. He believes that if you spend your money right you can increase your happiness.

The trick is not to “waste” your money on material things. Instead, buy yourself experiences, such as a meal out, going to the theater or to a baseball game.

Howell did a study with 154 people ages 19 to 50 and found that people feel more alive and inspired after they have made experiential purchases. They also appreciated the positive memories they were left with. An additional benefit was the social nature of those experiences, i.e. being together with other people and thus satisfying the need for social connectedness. Overall, buying experiences made people happier than buying stuff.

In conclusion, Howell suggests that his findings can also be applied to purchasing gifts for other people. If you give a certificate for a restaurant, for tennis lessons, or a spa visit, you will not only brighten the day for the person, but also create long lasting happy memories.

Christiane is psychologist and Life & Career coach.  She teaches Psychology at a College in the Greater Boston area. Visit her website at www.coach4u.net

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Women’s Happiness More Recession Proof

February 21st, 2009 by Christiane


How often are we reading it in these financially difficult times: Money can’t buy Happiness?

Well, it turns out; this may be true for women.  Men however, beg to differ.


Results of a global happiness survey from the Nielsen Company show that for men happiness and satisfaction with their financial situation are closely related.


A woman’s happiness depends more on the quality of her friendships and relationships with family and even with her boss and co-workers.  Thus, it seems, women find it easier to be happy in economically tough times:  In 48 of the 51 countries surveyed, women are happier than men and are also more optimistic about the future.


The global survey polled more than 28 000 people and asked about the contribution of a variety of factors to happiness.  As main factors emerged the personal financial situation, mental health, job/career and being satisfied with your partner.   


The study also showed that in different parts of the world some factors are more important than others: For Lithuanians and Indonesians money was far more important than for South Africans and Venezuelans. For people in Vietnam and Indonesia happiness depended on access to unbiased information (news, internet) and their sex life.  People in Switzerland and Finland depend more than people in other countries on physical health to be happy and for Australians mental health is a key factor for happiness. Americans need good relationships with co-workers, even more than good relationships with their own family.


Christiane is psychologist and Life & Career coach.  She teaches Psychology at a College in the Greater Boston area.  Visit her website at www.coach4u.net

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Quick thinking as mood booster

February 5th, 2009 by Christiane

Who doesn’t feel occasionally down, particularly during these long and cold winter months?

Researchers at Harvard and Princeton University may now have found a simple method to get the spirits up again: Do a rapid thinking exercise, for example list quickly all kinds of uses for a paperclip, generate a variety of problem-solving-ideas or solve a soduko as quickly as you can.

The researchers found that research participants felt more elated and creative after experiments with a variety of quick thinking tasks.

I found particularly interesting the explanation that the researchs offered: For one, they believe the improved mood may be related to an increase in the neurotransmitter dopamine, which in consequence increases feelings of pleasure. But the researchers offer also a different explanation: they say, many people believe that good mood and fast thinking are related like “If I’m in a good mood, I can think fast.” Now, if I find myself in the course of the exercise thinking fast, then the reverse must be true ” If I’m thinking fast, I must be in a good mood”.

Read more on Harvard’s website

 Christiane is a Life & Career coach, psychologist and college teacher. Her website is http://coach4u.net

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