I Choose Happiness

November 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Father and son

Thanksgiving, a time for gratitude. Is it hard to feel grateful? We often think that ‘if only’ we had this thing or that shiny object then we could really enjoy life. Studies indicate that though your natural happiness may have a predetermined, genetic ‘set point,’ happiness is also a daily choice. Here are seven happy tips.

Choose – Happiness is an intentional decision that you pursue with determination. It isn’t, according to studies, dropped out of the sky  for you. It is an intentional direction pursued. You know what makes you feel better, what lifts your spirits. As much as possible those are the people or activities to pursue. Choose who you hang with, people who lift your spirits and not those who are always sad, disappointed or grumbling.

Gratitude – Studies repeatedly show that those individuals who practice gratitude are among the happiest. What can you do to get in the gratitude habit? List things, either out loud or in a journal, for which you are thankful. Everyday think of all the good things, the loving people, that fill your life. You have so many gifts, talents and blessings. Think about those things and you will feel happier.

Forgiveness – You can’t live for any length of time and not have been hurt. Anger and resentment can be emotionally crippling. Just carrying the burden of injustice or betrayal leaves your heart heavy and sad. More and more research shows, according to experts, that forgiveness is tied to mental health and happiness. Face it, life’s not fair and it sometimes hurts. Remember that your words and actions have also been the source of pain to others. Remember your poor choices in the past to better let go of the pain and hurt long-past from others so you can let it go, friend. Your health and happiness depend in part on your willingness to forgive. Let it go, little bird, and be free.

Give negativity the boot – Negativity is no fun. And sometimes we carelessly ruminate about how life stinks or seems unfair. There is no benefit in such thoughts. When you become aware of negative thoughts or careless negative self-talk replace those thoughts by remembering your list of blessings. Sing upbeat songs, dance in the living room. Chase the bad away with purposeful joy.

It’s not the money– You may be wondering why a column on happiness and emotions on a financial blog. Well, my friends, money and happiness have some link. But it turns out that all the money in the world doesn’t bring peace and contentment. You’ve no doubt observed the sad shenanigans of Hollywood celebs and the idle rich. They have lots of money and yet they feel depressed. Studies reveal that making enough to pay modest bills is a threshold for normal happiness. Making more than is needed to cover basic expenses doesn’t significantly increase happiness. With more money comes only small amounts of joy. Once you don’t have to worry about the electric bill, money fails to be a happiness focus.

Make friends – Folks who have friends, people with whom they can laugh and joke, who bring out the best in us, who care when you are hurting and celebrate in good times, are happier than those without close relationships. Want more friends? Reach out. Don’t sit in your house, resentful and selfishly wondering why no one calls or invites you to lunch. Take control of your life. Take a risk. Invite folks to join you for potlucks or the movies or a picnic in the park. All the while you think folks are ignoring you when perhaps it’s that they don’t know how to make friends, either. They feel unsure how to become better buds. If you make the effort to keep and expand your real-life social connections you will be happier. Life’s better with buddies.

Meaningful life – Finally, folks who give their time to activities that change lives, that change the community, and in which they are also challenged to give their best show high levels of happiness. More common forms of spending time such as TV viewing and other leisure activities, don’t produce the same high level of joy as giving yourself to some meaningful work.

So as you practice gratitude this Thanksgiving, ruminate on this and pursue awesomeness. (CR9590)





The Ten Commandments of Finance – First Commandment

April 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Ten Commandments of Finance:  Speaking to the larger truths, and not simply the facts, about money.

 I love learning about finance, whether it is about business, personal finance, investments, all of this is really yummy to me. But I have found that not everyone feels excited.

1.)  Money doesn’t equal happiness

A recent article in the WSJ (Tuesday, March 15, 2011, pg. D1) entitled ‘Is Happiness Overrated?’ stated what other studies have revealed. Happiness isn’t you having more stuff; it’s an attitude of the heart.  Long-term fulfillment and happiness, according to this article and many others like it, comes from having a life of purpose and meaning: volunteering, getting a degree; being the best you can be and helping others – that brings fulfillment.

Don’t get me wrong money can make life easy – or its lack make life more difficult.  Gallop’s poll of 450,000 people found that our day-to-day moods can be affected by money. With a salary of $75,000 folks feel as if life is working out. At a significantly lower income, according to Gallop – and you know from your own experience- folks feel  ‘ground down’ by financial difficulties.

But you KNOW it isn’t money that brings happiness because we have all heard of sports stars and lottery winners, or those with well-paying jobs right in our community, who are miserable. Recent news stories of particular TV or movie ‘stars’ with such loneliness and emptiness in their hearts demonstrate that money is used, or squandered, to buy friends, companionship or is compulsively spent on things, all in a desperate effort at filling a void.

Happiness can come from things that have NOTHING to do with money: exercising, the simple act of holding a pen or pencil in your mouth in a way that makes a grimace; becoming cheerful when you see someone at the store. In my book there is a chapter on happiness and all the joy beauty brings be it from flowers, color, nature and just being able to see nature from your window. All these things bring happiness.

More money helps. But happiness, life satisfaction, comes from other sources.

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