Thursday, August 25, 2005


making money, being happy

fortunately or unfortunately, having money is a necessity in our world. we all need food, shelter and clothing and thus we all need money to buy them. in the US though, money has become much more than simply a means to fulfill our basic needs. our capitalist economy uses money to lure us into competition with our friends and neighbors, to persuade us into working jobs we don't like and to buy things we have no idea why we feel we need.

as a twentysomething, money is a tricky issue. in my ongoing efforts to not give up on my dreams, to be who i am and to build a vibrant community for myself money can feel like a daunting opponent. as such, i find it immensely helpful to be reminded that while we all need money, our instincts are right in telling us that it will not be what brings us happiness.

in fact, as jeremy over at lifestylism has been blogging about lately, research shows that contrary to the messages all around us - money does not equal happiness. instead the article he cites by dayana yochim of the motley fool describes what really does matter:

According to the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center:

-People with five or more close friends (excluding family members) are 50% more likely to describe themselves as "very happy" than respondents with fewer.

-A loving marriage: 40% of married American adults report themselves as "very happy," vs. 26% of those who are not married.

-Good health.

-A connection with a congregation such as your community or a religious group.

On the other hand, a survey of 800 college alumni showed that classmates who valued high income, job success, and prestige more than close friends and love were twice as likely to be "fairly" or "very" unhappy.

Happy people, it seems, concentrate on their own successes and don't compare themselves -- their income, their family time -- with others. They do not judge others or dwell on negative feelings. If they do dwell on the better performance of a colleague or friend, it is to learn ways for self-improvement.

"By far the greatest predictor of happiness in the literature is intimate relationships," Sonja Lyubomirsky, a researcher at the University of California-Riverside, told
a Chicago Tribune reporter. "It's definitely not money."

this pretty much sums it up. being happy is about being closely connected to people. another reminder that putting relationships first always makes sense.

of course we all have to make a living. but approaching that undertaking from the perspective that relationships come first, and success isn't financial in nature can help us to create what we really want - jobs that we like and work we feel good about.

what would it mean for you to put relationships first?

how would you conceive of your success differently if it were based on your close connections to people rather than your annual income?

as always i'd love to hear your thoughts and musings, post them here!

dream big,

Not comparing myself to others. That's something I've struggled with my entire life.

It's difficult not to when you see people who are doing what you want to be doing, and they've achieved it much earlier than you have. Or they've gotten there through a different path.

Did I choose the wrong path? What did he do that I didn't do? Is he better, more talented than I?
avoiding comparisons is indeed a very tricky thing to do. especially since society is constantly pushing us to do just that. if the cult of celebrity in our culture is not an invitation to compare ourselves to unattainable others than i don't know what is.

i'd offer this perspective, which has been useful to me: we've tried comparing ourselves to others, many times in fact, and so far no good has come of it. the studies are in - comparison doesn't work. so next time we find ourselves comparing we can do our best to decide to stop. it's not easy certainly, but there is a way that we can use logic against those little voices that tell us we suck. we can remember that we've traveled this road before and it led us nowhere.
Great blog and recent post kirsten! Just stopped by Jeremy's Lifestylism site and noticed yours. Feel free to check out exploreplay - my blog that explores the role of play in finding contentment in life's pursuits: leisure, work, & self-understanding.

Kirsten: You're so insightful at such a young age! It's taken me far too long to get that whole "money does not equal happiness" thing. I just wrote about money yesterday ... funny ... or not. No coincidences! Keep up the great work!
Excellent stuff, Kirsten...much clearer and more personal than my random blathering.
: )
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