I’ve recently finished a book “Time Smart” written by Ashley Whillans, a Harvard Business School professor. She found out four out of five adults report having too much to do and not enough time to do it. She claims that those who are “time-poor” experience less joy in everyday life, less healthy and less productive. In one study, time-related stress had a more substantial negative impact on happiness than unemployment.
Lack of Money can undoubtedly affect our level of happiness. But research tells us that money can prevent sadness but cannot buy joy. Once we reach a certain income, and when our necessities are met, increased wealth does not dramatically influence our happiness level.
Since our society is constructed to imply that money is more important than time (working more hours is rewarded with more money), we need to make a conscious decision to value time over money, which might feel difficult and unreasonable. But the author argues that simple decisions to prioritize time over money can increase the amount of time available for us, which increases happiness.
There was one thing the author suggested that was immediately helpful: Instead of doing hours of research to get a better deal, make a quick comparison (2-3 stores) and make the purchase. According to the author, it makes the person more stressed, and the saved money is often not significant enough to worth the trouble of doing hours of research.
But don’t think having more time will automatically make us happier. The key is not in becoming “time-rich” but “time-smart.” Many people think doing church ministry steals away their valuable free time. But she says, “free time devoted to active leisure—activities like volunteering, socializing, and exercising—promotes happiness far more than spending time engaged in passive leisure activities like watching TV, napping, or online shopping.” You can have a ton of time for yourself and still be unhappy.
In summary, it is not about having lots of money or time, but where we invest them. Both money-stingy and time-stingy decisions make us less happy. If we want to be happier, money needs to be used to make more available time, and the freed-up time needs to be invested in meaningful and purposeful activities.