Buy­ing time can make you happy

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

LON­DON: The se­cret of hap­pi­ness may be as sim­ple as em­ploy­ing a cleaner, a study has found.

Pay­ing some­one to do tasks you dis­like such as clean­ing, shop­ping or weed­ing cre­ates greater life sat­is­fac­tion than do­ing it your­self, re­search sug­gests.

The study’s au­thors say hav­ing too lit­tle time to do the things you need to do to main­tain your life is “a new form of poverty” that has noth­ing to do with fi­nan­cial poverty.

The so­lu­tion is to spend money on do­mes­tic as­sis­tance as this will re­duce the stresses of be­ing “time poor” in a way that buy­ing a fancy car, an ex­pen­sive meal in a restau­rant or a new sofa will not.

The au­thors say while there is a lot of re­search about over­com­ing fi­nan­cial scarcity, lit­tle has been done to look at time scarcity.

Ash­ley Whillans, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Busi­ness School, said: “Peo­ple who hire a house cleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel they’re be­ing lazy. But our re­sults sug­gest buy­ing time has sim­i­lar ben­e­fits for hap­pi­ness as hav­ing more money.”

The au­thors say hav­ing “a good sup­port net­work”, un­der­stand­ing friends, fam­ily and work­mates helps to re­duce your stress lev­els.

But pay­ing some­one to do the jobs you dis­like will have the same ef­fect. The re­searchers ques­tioned more than 6 000 peo­ple in the US, Canada, Den­mark and the Nether­lands, ask­ing how much, if any­thing, they spent each month to buy them­selves free time. They also rated their life sat­is­fac­tion, and an­swered ques­tions about feel­ings of time stress.

The study en­com­passed rep­re­sen­ta­tive work­ing peo­ple in the first three coun­tries, and 850 mil­lion­aires in the Nether­lands.

But what­ever the level of in­come, the au­thors found “peo­ple from across the in­come spec­trum ben­e­fited from buy­ing time”. De­spite en­vi­able wealth, al­most half of the Dutch sam­ple of mil­lion­aires re­ported spend­ing no money on out­sourc­ing their dis­liked tasks.

Analysing the re­sults fur­ther, the au­thors found that peo­ple who spent more money on “time sav­ing pur­chases” felt less stress.

The au­thors said: “Across seven stud­ies with over 6 000 re­spon­dents, spend­ing money to buy time was linked to greater life sat­is­fac­tion, and the typ­i­cal, detri­men­tal ef­fect of time stress on life sat­is­fac­tion was at­ten­u­ated among in­di­vid­u­als who used money to buy time.”

They found par­tic­i­pants felt greater pos­i­tive emo­tions af­ter mak­ing a time-sav­ing pur­chase.

Study co-au­thor El­iz­a­beth Dunn, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia, said: “The ben­e­fits of buy­ing time aren’t just for wealthy peo­ple.” – Daily Mail

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