Book Review: You can Buy Happiness by Tammy Strobel

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You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too by Tammy Strobel

You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too

Found this book scrolling through the new books added to the electronic Brooklyn Public Library . Prior to reading this book, I had no idea about Tammy, her journey, or her Rowdy Kittens blog.

“Remember, Tammy, life is short. Do what you love and help others, too. It’s natural to think you’ll be happy if you conform to the norm. I don’t think that’s true. It’s okay to be yourself. This is just a small reminder: Don’t lose track of your dreams.”

You can Buy Happiness by Tammy Strobel

What I Loved About This Book:

I have always dreamed of living in a tiny home. Tammy documented her ups and downs with the transition from a large apartment to a tiny home. She decluttered several times in order to make this happen. I really appreciated her being open and honest about moving into a tiny home. Typical to the tiny house movement, Tammy and her husband had a large amount of debt and wanted to experience more freedom in life.

This book came at a perfect time for me. This whole global pandemic really rocked me. I wrote about the impact of empty shelves at the grocery store impacting my mental health in a previous post titled Return to Minimalism. Tammy’s voice calmed me and reassured me by sharing her experiences and quotes about the benefits of living with less. I’m not saying that living without food is the ideal state, but living with less material things has huge benefits.

What I Didn’t Care For:

Personally I felt that the story jumped around a bit. I would have liked to have seen this book written in chronological order with old stories and research sprinkled throughout. I was confused when the book ended talking about using a $5,000 interest-free loan from her parents to help buy a tiny home and that they are still paying it off.

Quotes that Really Hit Me:

A number of studies have shown that in times of distress, people survive and thrive by helping one another. That is why nurturing relationships and community is so important.

You can Buy Happiness by Tammy Strobel

Those new bright shiny material items are awesome in the beginning and then the fun wears off. Then reality sets in. And if you are like most Americans you have debt and live paycheck to paycheck. Minimalism is a way to become debt free and life a more meaningful life. Don’t believe me? Check out my posts about my no-spend 2019 and 2020 years. I couldn’t be happier living with less stuff and spending less money to acquire that stuff that I’m only going to donate or toss in the garbage.

Elizabeth W. Dunn, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, is at the forefront of research on consumption and happiness. In recent papers, Dunn and her colleagues explained that income is not a strong predictor of happiness once our basic needs are met. The studies they reviewed suggested that money can buy happiness, but it depends on how you spend your disposable income.

Humans adapt very rapidly to new things in their lives, so the happiness from “newness” wears off quickly. However, spending money on experiences — concert tickets, taking a yoga class, or going on vacation — typically produces more, and longer lasting, satisfaction than buying stuff because we’re impacting our well-being, and joyful memories continue to feed us. Instead of buying stuff, Dunn and her colleagues show that you can be happier by helping others, donating to charities, and buying a few small pleasures.

You can Buy Happiness by Tammy Strobel

These are the quotes that helped me get out of my head and back into my minimalist journey. How do these quotes make you feel?

Interestingly, researchers from Yale University and the University of New Hampshire published a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology about stuff and security. The researchers theorized that people value their belongings because “ownership of goods promotes feelings of security.” If that’s the case, increasing a person’s sense of “security should reduce the value they place on possessions.” In the experiments, researchers asked the participants how much they valued specific items, like a blanket or a pen. People who felt loved and accepted by others placed a lower monetary value on their possessions than people who did not.

Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Robert Kennedy explained the problem beautifully. He said GDP doesn’t register “the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

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