** Happy Money by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton

What is it with our collective obsession to be happy (here, here, here, here, here)? Perhaps because I’ve consumed so many books on the topic, I could not muster much enthusiasm about Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, even though it’s well-written, funny, and firmly structured, a plus in my mind. The main idea is that spending money on experiences rather than tangible stuff is the way to go, a principle I followed to the letter by waiting for the book to become available at the library, reading it, blogging about it, and then returning it so that I am not encumbered by more stuff — although, alas, the memory of the reading experience may not linger very long, as I have a tendency to promptly forget what I read. (This is why I started the blog in the first place, to serve as a memory aid.)

But back to the book. Like many psychology books, its flavor is decidedly First World and pampered. For instance, “People who spend more of their money on leisure report significantly greater satisfaction with their lives.” Could it be that the same people are also the ones who do not have to worry about paying the rent? The best part of the book is the last chapter, all too short, in which the authors explore how governments can assist their citizens in adopting spending strategies that maximize happiness. (Hint: do not subsidize house-buying.) I would have wished to read more in this vein.


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