The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Weekly Video: Beware of the Expensive-Gym-Membership Effect.

Paying money to change our lives?

For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – or even if you haven’t officially joined the challenge – this month’s focus is Money. The relationship between money and happiness is one of the most complicated and emotionally charged subjects within the larger issue of happiness. I really can't do justice to its complexities in such a short video. (For a more nuanced discussion, read Chapter Seven in the book!)

Last week’s resolution was to Buy some happiness. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness?

This week’s resolution is to Beware of the gym-membership effect – which is a familiar situation in which money does not buy you happiness. The gym-membership effect occurs when you pay money for something as a way to encourage yourself to make time for it. Sometimes we use spending money as a way to demonstrate our desire to change something in our lives, but just making a purchase won’t do that.

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As I emphasized in the first Money video, I recognize of course that only people with ample money face this happiness challenge. If we don’t have money to buy the essentials of life, this isn’t an issue. As the saying goes, "It's a good problem to have." Nevertheless, it's true that once we have enough money to make choices in how to spend it, our choices can boost our happiness, or not.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Sometimes money can buy you happiness, and sometimes it can’t, or, The “gym-membership effect.”

If you're new, here’s information on the 2010 Happiness Challenge (or watch the intro video). It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For more ideas, check out the Happiness Project site on Woman’s Day.

* This exchange got me laughing out loud. From Google Alerts, I saw that Sarah, of the great blog, The SHU Box, had written about The Happiness Project book; it was very interesting to read what she's doing for her happiness project. (It's always fascinating to hear about other people's happiness projects.) I left a comment, saying hello, and I went back to get the link to put here. Apparently Sarah wasn't sure I was actually ME! Hi, Sarah, if you see this, yes, that was me.

* In a book group? If you'd like a copy of the reading-group discussion guide for The Happiness Project, just email me at grubin [at] gretchenrubin [.com]. (Sorry to write in that odd way; trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “reading group guide” in the subject line. I’ll send it right off.

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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