If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Consider Time

May 26, 2012 by Joshua
in Awareness, Blog, Freedom, Tips

I just read this article, “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Consider Time.” Before commenting on it, I’ll note that I saw it linked to from a tech site, Hacker News. That community tends not to value MBA values and view people with MBAs as not adding the value engineers do.

Having been a tech-founder (before my MBA) and a non-tech-founder (after my MBA) of different ventures I understand that perspective on MBAs, but this article — from Stanford’s business school — represents some of the more valuable perspectives business school and leadership type thinking can bring — thinking about your values, understanding them, and acting on that understanding.

My business school experience taught me a lot in those areas and played a major role in my direction to improve my life through emotional intelligence and self-awareness.

Anyway, the article begins

Our search to understand what makes humans happy (or happier) goes back centuries. As does our enduring belief that if we just do the right thing, happiness will follow – that additional happiness will be doled out to us because we earned it, not due to the largess of a benevolent being. “Happiness is not a reward – it is a consequence,” instructs Robert Green Ingersoll, a Civil War-era orator. Many notable others, from Aristotle to the Buddha to Ursula K. LeGuin, agree with this sentiment.

New research takes a fresh look at this topic. Jennifer Aaker and Melanie Rudd at Stanford University, and Cassie Mogilner at the University of Pennsylvania, published “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Consider Time,”in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2011. They discuss how happiness is indeed a consequence of the choices people make. So what can people do to increase their happiness? Their answer is surprisingly simple: spend your time wisely. Careful though. Some of the ways people should spend their time are, in fact, surprising.

I responded

After I figured out my priorities (took years of challenging myself and introspection) I figured out how to spend my time.

Now I do what’s important and don’t waste my time with other things. I don’t try to “life-hack” or make myself as efficient as possible because if I’m only working on my most important things I know I’m spending my time well.

I cut my working hours down to one or sometimes two days a week, sometimes more when they need me more. I don’t need more money than that — and I live in Manhattan (no kids).

And my life is better than ever.

Nothing special about me. Anyone could do it.

(I recently had an idea I’m passionate about and may put in long hours for it, which will be following my passions. Making your time your own lets you.)

Another reader asked what I did for income so I added

I work at the company I founded. My compensation is no higher than anyone else’s. Working one-fifth time gives me one-fifth pay.

The more valuable question is how low are my expenses. I’ve found much more freedom in needing less than in having more. Cutting out what doesn’t add joy to my life creates freedom and joy. That’s what I meant by nothing special about me. Anyone can cut waste. Not many seem to.

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