Skip to main content

Is Upgrading Always Worth It?

Moving is fun... or is it?

Upward mobility. We're geared to seek it as goal-driven professionals, as Americans, as humans. Our innate sense is to improve our circumstances, otherwise we run the risk of becoming weak and irrelevant. In modern circles, though, this evolutionary holdover has morphed into a ridiculous constant upgrading of our stuff.

There's a misconception that upgrading will make us happier. In fact, there was a 2010 Princeton study with a large polling group that found people's happiness did not increase further as they advanced to incomes beyond $75,000 per year. This has been re-analyzed multiple times and put through different cost-of-living lenses, but the general result is the same: more is not better. The book Happy Money also points out that after the initial excitement of a new car/bigger house/shiny material purchase, people's happiness level when encountered with that thing tends to fade over time. The original situation prior to the upgrade provided just as much happiness.

We just recently moved, to a different house in the same neighborhood where we already live. We have owned this house for over 10 years, but we had been renting it. People often ask, "Why are you moving? Oh, is it to get a bigger house?" Quite the opposite; we're actually downsizing our home and simplifying our assets. So far it has been a fairly extreme exercise in decluttering. We gave away and sold lots of things, and when we actually moved we identified even more extra stuff that we couldn't find a place for in the new house. Not once have I felt sad when parting with the superfluous items; in fact, I would definitely say the happiness brought by decluttering has offset the stress of the move.

Baby's getting older, sleeping better, on the verge of walking and becoming a little more independent every day. But I'm not increasing my hours in the OR as a response. Instead, my group at work has finally become flush enough with staff for me to slightly downgrade my clinical commitment. Not enough to feel like I'll end up rusty, but enough to have a little more "me" time in my weeks. I've finally felt excited to push myself athletically again (more on that later), so this extra time has helped facilitate opportunities for that. And after our big international vacation, I can still afford some short time periods off this winter to get out of the cold weather, another time-tested happiness booster for me and my family.

What about you? Can you think of a time you've downsized or downgraded and it brought you more happiness? As always, share your experience here!


  1. Once we got to two kids, a bigger space became important...but the best thing is having our kitchen done so it's a pleasure to cook in! Trying to keep Christmas limited this year - kids love toys and the goal is to get enough to be fun without being too much stuff. We'll see :)

  2. Yes, totally agree with that. Toys are like clothes, I feel like: you need to get rid of something if you add a new item to a full closet (or toybox). Enjoy your kitchen! The most important room in the house!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Bittersweet: 21 Day Sugar Detox Results

From now on this is the only kind of cupcake I really want (there's a "cherry" on top of that hat)!
As a result of what I felt was an out of control craving for sugar and sweet foods, I decided to embark on a 21 Day Sugar Detox (read the whole post here). And I survived without my chocolate and candy! Amazing. Here are my observations:

- The first 2-3 days were the hardest. I was used to having sweet flavors all day, and the abrupt change (starting with my morning coffee) was like a slap in the face. At first, I craved a sweet taste constantly. But that feeling subsided, and my tastes did start to change. A green apple began to taste quite sweet, for example. I wouldn't say that I now love coffee without my vanilla stevia drops, but it isn't bad. Now that I've done it, I can vouch for what others have said: curbing your intake of sweet foods definitely decreases your cravings for them. After a while, I just didn't even think about sweets, and if I saw the…

Shoe-drop thinking: How to let go of the past?

(Yes, there is something growing in there!)
I'm pregnant, again... I'm almost 10 weeks along and definitely feeling symptoms of first trimester pregnancy this time.

No big announcements, clever texts or Facebook posts, no balloons or flowers or drama. Just quiet and cautious happiness... somewhat. You see, it's actually been difficult to enjoy the good news because I'm suffering from self-proclaimed "shoe-drop thinking"; things are going well, so when will the other shoe drop? When will that bad thing happen, you know, because something bad always happens?

I've felt exhausted on a new level, and the nausea started on cue right at 6 weeks. The occasional tugging in my lower abdomen signals the growing pains of my uterus (even though there's not much visible outward growth yet). I've had three ultrasounds that show perfectly-timed fetal growth and a strong heartbeat.

But when I have a day where I feel more energetic, I think maybe it's all over.…