More and more people want to buy less and save more. Giving up unnecessary stuff is a way to live a more sustainable life. But what effect does it have on the happiness we experience?
The corona pandemic has driven people, at least momentarily, towards more sustainable daily lives and ways of consuming. According to Sitra’s Lifestyles after the Lockdown survey, more than a third of people have become more active in getting rid of useless goods during exceptional circumstances – and no more is needed to replace them.
Reducing consumption is not only a responsible activity but also a cost-saving activity. Those who swear by the name of minimalism often say that they are happier to live without a lot of goods. Does reducing consumption and the savings that come with it make us happier?
Happiness is individual
There is no simple answer to the question of the relationship between reducing consumption and happiness. He points out that happiness is a subjective feeling in general, and there is no clear list of factors and actions that guarantee happiness.
“I prefer to talk about enablers of happiness who support happiness and create a foundation for feeling a sense of happiness”
Happiness enablers include meaningful interpersonal relationships, healthy lifestyles, a sense of security, and various activities that release happiness hormones, such as exercise and listening to music. Whether these enablers bring happiness depends on, among other things, the personality, the living environment, the people around, and the life situation.
“If I had to mention one major factor behind happiness, then it would be other people. According to research, good and genuine relationships are a significant factor that supports our happiness. ”
Hoarding goods can weaken relationships
According to the happiness researcher, reducing consumption can have a positive effect on interpersonal relationships and the happiness experienced through them. But what is the connection between a more minimalist lifestyle and better relationships?
To answer the question, it is first necessary to consider why the goods are procured.
The material has long been seen as a sign of a successful and worthwhile life. By buying goods, a person can, in addition to meeting basic needs, realize himself, seek acceptance in the eyes of others, and escape from feeling bad.
“When you buy something new, you feel good for a while. However, well-being can disappear quickly, and such activities are not very sustainable. ”
The glorification of novelty and constant consumption has led to the reality that Westerners are drowning in a plethora of goods. Taking care of the mass of goods can be time-consuming and distressing and distract from the most important, ie interpersonal relationships.
“We focus and invest in goods and collecting them instead of interpersonal relationships. For example, according to economist Stefano Bartolin, when we spend money on ourselves and our goods, our relationships get poorer, and at the same time, happiness disappears. ”
The money is worth spending on common moments
According to happiness research, money should be spent on experiences, other people, and communities instead of goods.
“In this way, human relations, social ties and cohesion can be strengthened”
When you consume less stuff, you should focus on the rest. According to the happiness researcher, it is then easier to notice the importance of intangible happiness importers around you, especially other people.
Saving brings security and freedom
If spending money on experiences and other people increases happiness, then will refraining from spending and saving take away happiness? Not so much.
First of all, saving can be a security for the future. In addition, it brings the freedom to make the choices you want. According to Suojanen, these can play a key role in building one’s happiness.
“Savings make it easier to leave a horrible workplace or a bad relationship, for example, if that happens. In general, they can guarantee that you can make choices that support your happiness in the future as well. ”
The belief that things will continue to do well is one of the most significant factors behind happiness. It’s hard to be happy today if happiness can be expected to end tomorrow.
On the other hand, investing in savings can support activities in line with one’s values. At the same time, you get a sense of meaning in life, which is also important for happiness.
“Saving and investing can support companies that are considered valuable or in line with their values. Through it, you can be involved in creating a new future. ”
Too much is too much and too little is too little
However, reducing and saving consumption should not be taken too far. According to Suojanen, abstaining from consumption may reduce happiness if it begins to strain relationships, encounters, or self-expression.
“You may not be able to live a full life if you are tough on yourself and set too tight limits”.
Indeed, the happiness researcher reminds us that using and spending money is part of life. It can be very important for happiness to be able to go out to eat, get the things you need, and buy new brushes, for example, if you like painting.