Laura Riley, Author Of Money And Happiness: A Guide To Living The Good Life Offers These Six Steps To Financial Happiness
There has been a great deal of research recently devoted to the relationship between money and happiness. The consensus is that once basic needs are satisfied, happiness doesn’t increase as income increases. Surprisingly, surveys of people who have won the lottery are not much happier than the average person.
Laura Riley, author of Money and Happiness: A Guide to Living the Good Life offers these six steps to financial happiness.
When people make relative-income comparisons, they frequently look at those who have more and get upset when their income compares unfavorably, according to a study by David Blanchflower of Dartmouth. Even if our incomes are rising, we tend to become less happy if the incomes of others are rising even more. Measure your financial achievements against your own goals, and not those of anyone else. Or, if you find you can’t stop comparing, choose your control group selectively. For example, look at the world’s population as a whole and consider your position in light of that.
Professor Sonia Lyubomirsky of University of California Riverside had study participants write down five things they were thankful for. Results? Gratitude seems to be incompatible with some negative emotions. It's hard to feel envious or greedy or bitter when you're grateful," Lyubomirsky explains.
I’m currently enrolled in a 10-month course called Awakening Joy Course Practicing gratitude has been a major component of that course. Even in our dark moments, we can often find something for which we’re grateful, especially if we have developed that practice.
Don't Make Money a Top Priority
People who say money is one of their most important goals score lower for mental health, according to a variety of studies conducted over the past decade by Dr. Tim Kasser, associate psychology professor at Knox College, and Dr. Richard Ryan, psychology professor at the University of Rochester. Money-seekers suffer a greater risk of depression; have more anxiety and lower self-esteem; experience more physical, behavioral and relationship problems; and score lower on indicators testing for vitality (feeling alive and vigorous) and self-actualization.
A number of years ago, I took a year-long course for End-of-Life Counselors to prepare me for volunteer Hospice work. As my peers and I sat by the bedside we listened to people with many regrets but none had money at its core.
Be Conscious of How You Talk about Money
I’ve written a previous article that explores the topic of Money Messages in greater detail. How we talk to ourselves about money is crucial and has a big impact on our happiness, says author David Myers, professor at Michigan's Hope College. Instead of saying, "I can't afford it," say, "I choose to spend my money on other things." Think of yourself as an empowered person making wise choices based on your values and priorities rather than a victim who doesn’t have what she wants and thinks she deserves.
Focus on Essential Psychological Needs
Money scored last on the list of psychological needs that create happiness and fulfillment, according to a study by Kennon Sheldon, psychologist at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The four most essential needs were autonomy - feeling your actions are self-chosen and self-endorsed; competence - feeling effective in what you do; self-esteem; and a sense of closeness with others. The University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center found that people with five or more close friends (excluding family members) are 50 percent more likely to describe themselves as "very happy" than respondents with fewer friends.
I often chuckle when I see people on Face Book who have hundreds of friends and wonder just how close they are to everyone. With friendship, it’s quality, not quantity.
Professor Lyubomirsky has done studies in which students were asked to practice altruism, doing five acts of kindness a week for six weeks. The participants reported a significant rise in happiness. Kind acts, she says, not only make you feel better about yourself, but foster a sense of interdependence, cooperation, and can inspire friendship.
Although advertisers and our culture in general would like us to believe that life’s challenges can be resolved by money, the research shows otherwise. What have you found to be true in your own life?
Judi Martindale, a certified financial planner as well as a certified coach and author, was named as one of American's top 250 financial planners for three years in a row by Worth magazine. She specializes in working with women's concerns all over the country.