Personal finance writers, don't know much about happiness
I'm all about option A, small but frequent indulgences. Enhancing quality of life every day definitely makes me happier than going out to occasional nice meals or taking a fancy vacation.
For instance, last year I joined a gym/hot springs spa near my house. I'd gone there on guest passes every few months as a special treat for years, and finally bit the bullet and joined as a member. Now I can go workout or soak in the hot springs (plus sauna and cold plunge) whenever I want! Wow it has made me a happier person! Especially as a strategy to get through the dark winters where I live.
I'm so happy to forego a big vacation in favor of getting to feel great in my body and relax anytime I want to.
A great outline of some basic concepts of happiness that we have known from extremely high quality happiness science for decades:
Frequency > Intensity
Experiences > Materialistic Purchases
Well done Ben.
In terms of finances (althoug clearly knowing it ain't my expertise) I would like to add the happiness income threshold - having more money then about 70k USD (probably adjusted to inflation slightly higher nowadays).
Plus, mainly due to my own bias in this area, the ability to utilise that maximum happiness purchasing power is most useful if we have a high level of health and wellbeing available to us, as we can then gain more experience without negative impacts.
I do both. I believe in frequent indulgences to reward me for finishing a particular project/time/etc. For example a facial. Then I save up for the big indulgences--foreign travel, etc.
I couldn't help but notice that you used "couch" for "coach" - twice. Gotta be a Freudian slip in there somewhere :).
I like the idea that happiness is about frequency and therefore, consistency. Frequent, consistent actions, lead to greater things.
I totally agree that smart but consistent happiness "hits" are the way to go. But I would challenge the idea that those happiness hits need to be purchased.
Winning a hand at card games played with friends is almost free (baring cards you buy once and use for years) but it can give you a burst of happiness that's just as good as the latte. Learning to enjoy life without buying it is, in my opinion a skill, like any other. Learn to cook and you can enjoy gourmet food every day, without additional expenditure. Invest time in a relationship with your significant other and you can enjoy a healthy sex life without paying plus, you know, the whole companionship thing, I head that's rather important for happiness on the long run.
Comparing "buying smaller things more often" to "buying bigger things less often" misses the point of happiness by a mile, because it focuses on the wrong things. I wonder if what they actually managed to prove is how dopamine hits work.
You can, of course buy comfort and safety and a longer, healthier life (within the confines of the current medical knowledge). But happiness? I would argue that you need to want to be happy in order to achieve that. You must want to learn happiness. Money can help, but it can't get you there, otherwise you wouldn't see so many unhappy rich people.