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October 31, 2021

Why several small pleasures beat a few large ones

Researchers have found that the types of purchases we make, their size and frequency, and even the timing of that spending all affect long-term happiness.

AaaOne major finding is that spending money for an experience — like concert tickets, Spanish lessons, white water rafting — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.

There are situations where having cash to spend helps, of course, including for those who become sick or disabled, another study found; for them, money matters. But that's a different kind of spending.

The enemy of happiness is adaptation, says Psyblog. Unfortunately we get used to things and they give us less pleasure; after a while we start taking them for granted.

But if you keep doing lots of small, different conforting things, you'll get more pleasure overall and you'll feel happier. 

In a recent study, researchers had participants massaged for three minutes. However, one group had a 20 second break in the middle while the others had a continuous massage.

Who had the better time?

The team predicted it would be the continuous massage, but they were wrong. People enjoyed the massage with the timeout more because the break stopped them becoming acclimatized to the experience.

Is this your experience? Is it the small things that matter when it comes to being a bit happier? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...