Learning How to Be Happy With Less

Our society desperately needs to learn how to be happy with less. Studies show that the richest people in the world aren't any happier than the poorest. In fact, one of the happiest countries on earth is Nicaragua -- nowhere in North America even cracks the top five.

We tend to associate money and material wealth with happiness. Interestingly, studies have shown that the more we have, the more we think we need. Lottery winners experience a sudden spike in happiness that gradually returns to pre-winning levels over the next year as the lucky person learns to expect more and more.

So what if we could do the reverse? You may not be able to change your financial situation -- but what if you could turn your back on some of the consumerism out there and learn to live a more frugal life, learn how to be happy with less?

Frugality is not a dirty word

There's a difference between being frugal and being cheap. Obviously, if your family really needs something, it's worth investing in. And often the most frugal people spend a great deal on quality items they know they'll have for years to come. If you want to invest in frugality and happiness, here are some ways to get started.

1. Stop comparing yourself to others. It's a proven fact that we tend to compare ourselves to those with just a little more than we have. Don't judge yourself by artificial standards. If you must make financial comparisons, compare yourself to the billions of people who live on less than a dollar a day, not your wealthy neighbors.

2. Find things that make you happy and do them. We all get trapped in the idea of 'retail therapy' --and at first it seems to work, because when we get something new, we do get a quick boost of happiness. It wears off in about an hour though. The high you get from exercise, learning a new skill, spending time with your family, on the other hand... these last a much longer time. You'll learn how to worry less as your happiness increases.

3. Never buy anything without asking yourself, 'where am I going to put this?' If you can't think of an answer, leave it at the store until you can. If you really want it, go home and make a space for it -- by getting rid of something else.

4. Focus on relationships. Again, psychologists have found that the happiest and longest lived people have many close social bonds. Be close to your family, your friends, your pets, and your neighbors. Get involved in your community. You'll make a difference to yourself and to others.

If you want to know how to worry less and live with frugality, this is it. Make the decision to start today and learn how to be happy with less as you move through your life.

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