The best way to gauge the happiness bang for the buck is to reflect on our own lives. What memories do you have that make you feel happier just by recalling them? When you think about it, you will certainly find that the memories that still make you happy share some common characteristics. The first of these is engagement. Happy memories exist across a timeline. We plan something, work towards it, experience it, and then relive the activity in our memories and with the special people in our lives. Notice that I write of activities rather than things. When we create something, it is the act of creation that provides lasting memories, not the thing itself. Try talking to someone at a cocktail party about the house that you own, or the artwork that you own, or the car that you own, or the boat that you own. Probably, that person will try to escape as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you describe the process of building or buying the home, the shared experience with your spouse, the happiness of events with your family, then people will be able to engage with you and share with you their own joyous experiences.
Grand voyages are great, but few things will make a person happier than frequent long weekends spent at a special place with a special person. We have the pleasure of anticipation, the activity of planning, the experience itself, and the recollection of shared moments that can be regularly relived. When life is a drag, we can say to ourselves “thank goodness that we/I will be in.............in a few weeks.” You will feel better for free. When we are sharing the activity with others, so much the better. We all have our special places, our special restaurants, hiking trails, beaches, activities and interests. The possibilities are limitless. This is true for people who are married and those who are not. It is true for those who live together, for people who live separately, for those who have children and for those who do not. The important thing is that the frequency of experiences takes place often enough to rejuvenate us.