The Secrets to Happiness?

Poster for a play © roland |

James A. Roberts, professor of marketing at Baylor University, has written a rather scary book entitled Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy. According to Roberts, as of 2008 the typical American family had over $10,000 in credit card debt, plus four instalment loans.

Roberts gives study based evidence showing people who are less materialistic are much happier. They have more time with their families and friends, and have more close friendships. Try this “test” from the book:

First, list ten people whom you know well. Next, rate each person as either happy or unhappy. Finally, rate each person as either self-centered or other-oriented. Do you see a pattern? Researchers have: they’ve found that happy people are ten times more likely to be other-oriented than self-centered. This suggests that happiness is a by-product of helping others rather than the result of its pursuit.

I mention this because it is very relevant to marriage. Being less materialistic will benefit you, your spouse, your marriage, and pretty much everyone around you. Being less “self-oriented” and more “other-oriented” will have the same positive effects.

The bottom line is things do not mask us happy – not really, not for long enough to matter. Spend your money on experiences with people you care about, because experiences beat possessions. Spend more time on your family, and less time on making money for things. 

If you want to get radical – start this with the current Holiday season!

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Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:


The Generous Wife

Holiday Entertainment ◄ Plan something now!
Bring On the Calm ◄ Try to have a calm holiday season.
Strive for Progress ◄ Work for progress, not perfection.

Hot, Holy and Humorous

Keep Making Love This Season ◄ Get out your calendar, check it twice…

Journey to Surrender

Counter-Culture Marriage – Equality and Fairness ◄ Another great post in the counter-culture marriage series.
Counter-Cultural Marriage – Sex is a Very Big Deal ◄ And counter-culture married sex.

Marriage Life

You and Your Marriage Are Not an Island ◄ Get help, or give help.

Marriage Missions International

Fig Leaf Conspiracy – Jimmy Evans ◄ Great video, PLEASE take three minutes to watch it.

One Flesh Marriage

2012 Guy’s Gift Guide to Wow your Wife ◄ Gift ideas based on her love language.

Redeeming Marriages with Jack and Janet

We Need A Fresh Start ◄ Deal with your past so it does not dictate your future.

The Romantic Vineyard

Saying Goodbye ◄ If you have ever lost a loved one during the Christmas season this post is for you.

Stupendous Marriage

Show 68: Holiday Traditions ◄ Some great discussion of holiday traditions, and not letting them get out of hand.

2 Comments on “The Secrets to Happiness?

  1. When my wife an I got married ten years ago we started a saving ledger that included a column for our Christmas and then family & friends Christmas gifts. We figured out how much we wanted to spend, divided it by twelve, and set a side that amount each month. To date we have modified but not gone over that set amount for us, and now our two kids, or for our family & friends. Our gifts are never grand and often homemade jams or such but we walk each month debt free. It also helps neither of us look like we are saying no to a gift because it’s the ledger who is limiting us.

  2. This is such a simple truth, but so hard to explain and understand when its all people know.
    Focussing on others and keeping things simple have blessed my wife and I more than good jobs and bonus payments. The money has helped, but it only helps, it doesn’t do the work. Things go sour for us when we become selfish as individuals or as a couple. Oh and for the record, we do ok but we are not cash rich. No debt either though.

    Thanks for the blog. And Hi from the UK.

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