Sunday, April 22, 2018

If Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, What Does?

Money buys things, which don’t make us happy.  Happiness comes from inside, things come from the outside, and while they might give us a momentary thrill, they will never give us lasting happiness.   An interesting study has been done around the increasing wealth and materialism of the United States, and the fact that the happiness index has been stable or has actually decreased. 

You are now probably asking….so how do I get lasting happiness?  What will make me happy?  That is the question of the millennium!  There are many people studying it, and, of course, just as many theories around it.

 Psychologists are saying we are born with a happiness set point.  For example, if something wonderful happens (we win the lottery), we leap high on the happiness scale, but we will settle down to our set point over time.  If something tragic happens and we drop to the bottom of the happiness scale, we will eventually rise to our set point.  And like all human traits, some of us have higher set points than others, i.e., some of us are happier than others due to genetics (at least that is the theory).

Others are saying we choose to be happy, and there are nine choices we must make to be happy.  Those choices start with an intention to be happy; asking ourselves the very basic question:  What attitude will make the quality of this experience the best it can be right now?

The question can be asked multiple times each day as we are faced with an opportunity requiring us to act/react.  After interviewing hundreds of happy people, authors Rick Foster and Greg Hicks state in their book, How We Choose to be Happy,  that “the quality of our emotional experience is based almost entirely on the nature and strength of our intentions and very little on the actual things that happen in our lives.” 

Until you develop the intention to be happy, you will continue to draw unhappy people into your lives, supporting your unhappiness, as you support theirs. Your relationships are based on the shared unhappiness, reflecting your intention to be unhappy. 

I found it interesting to note this particular piece of information since I have always relied upon others to give me feedback that either fed or took away my happiness – from family to work.  In fact, most work environments are feedback based requiring the employee to always wonder how they are doing in relationship to what the employer wants, and those systems are not always positive in nature.  It also may require the employee to live outside of their own integrity or values, trying to measure up to the performance standards set by others rather than themselves.  What I have discovered is my reliance on others to make me happy does not work.  Only I can make me happy.   

Are you game to work with me to figure out how to do that? 

First, look at your long-term intentions for the remainder of your life.  For example, do you intend to:

  • Be a loving and caring mother/father
  • Be a helpful and supportive spouse/partner
  • Educate yourself in the pursuit of a vocation
  • Let go of perfectionist and judgmental thoughts
  • Be a great coach, minister, spiritual director
  • Be a caregiver to your parents

 Secondly, eliminate those items on your list that are there because they are something someone else wants you to be/do.  Keep those items that are there because they come from your heart.  Eliminate those items that feel like you “should do” or “oughta do”.

The third step is to now re-write the sentence

  • I intend to be a loving and caring mother/father, and I intend to be happy doing it.
  • I intend to be a helpful and supportive spouse/partner, and I intend to be happy doing it.

 And, so on.

Now, here comes the hard part:

Re-read the sentences you just re-wrote.  Do they feel like the real you?  How do you feel about them? If they don’t feel real, and you cannot connect with the statement, then it probably does not belong on your list.  Either take them off the list, or change them to make them your own.

Then ask yourself the critical question:  Who would you need to BE to fulfill that intent?  When you spend the time to honestly answer the question, and detail it with a list of who you would need to be, and how you would go about doing it, you will see a shift in how you see the world and your place in it.  You are ready to begin to create the change you would like to see in your life.

What are your intentions in life, and how would you respond to this question?

Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, is a personal growth and leadership coach, writer, and workshop facilitator.  She is also a Usui Reiki Master and EFT practitioner.  Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life.  You can also find Georgia on her website, Collaborative Transitions, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.   Georgia may also be reached at (402) 304-1902 if you wish to schedule a 30 minute complementary consultation.

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7 Responses to “If Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, What Does?”
  1. Georgia,
    Excellent article on the evalution of personal happiness. We have to be happy inside because of the materialistic things in life are temporary, therefore it cannot replace the internal happiness. It can restore elations of joy but it is just a temporary fix. Also, it is true in how we attract unhappiness in our lives when we are unhappy too. The laws of attraction at it best!
    Kathy H.

    • Georgia says:

      Kathy, you are so right. Have you ever noticed that when you get the things (materialisting things) that you want, it doesn’t take long before they lose the value you had given them? It’s like your brain dematerializes it and you need to push for “more”.

  2. Georgia: Very nice analysis on happiness!

    When you talked about how we are only temporarily happy with things, it reminded me of a talk that Srikumar S. Rao gave at the 2009 Arbejdsglaede Conference on how we want things and then get them, but the cycle keeps repeating itself as we become complacent with what we have.

    Here’s the link to the video:

    I think you will find it very interesting.

  3. Jim Rembach says:

    Georgia, I enjoyed reading this. While I was, I found myself thinkng that there are many times when I do not know what would make me happy. Maybe this will help in those times. Thanks
    Jim Rembach recently posted..Online Leadership and Employee Engagement System

    • Georgia says:

      Jim, I think we all go through those times. Often, when I’m feeling frustrated and dissatisfied it is often an indicator that a change is in the wind. That in itself helps me feel happier – change means growth.


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