Splurge Small—and Frequently
Since we “adapt” to pleasure so quickly, smaller, more frequent splurges are better investments.
Temporal breaks allow us to readjust and experience a jolt of delight again.
Spreading out our joyful treats not only allows us to experience pleasure more often (who can say no to that?), it can actually save us money. This is because our pleasure doesn’t increase in exact proportion to the size of the splurge.
For example, several studies cited by Gilbert, Dunn and Wilson show that eating a 12-ounce cookie isn’t twice as pleasurable as eating two 6-ounce cookies; it’s less. Similarly, in another study, those who received an 80-second massage, followed by a break and another 80-second massage, experienced more pleasure than a group who received a straight, uninterrupted 180-second massage (and were willing to pay twice as much for it!). Notice the happier massaged folks received less massage time (only 160 seconds) compared to the less happy group.
Instead of a major spa day every few months, try a mani-pedi every couple of weeks. Instead of treating yourself to the cute $100 top with your paycheck, see if a $30 tee one week and $50 sandals the next give you a little bump of pleasure twice that month instead. Try a few smaller vacations a year as opposed to one major dream vacation every couple of years.
Consider breaking your splurges down into smaller segments throughout the month (or year), spend less on them total, and see if your happiness–and wallet–notice a difference.