Earlier this week I wrote a post about maintaining your relationship with your husband once a baby comes into the picture. The conversation quickly turned to money and happiness. I was a bit disappointed in this (though, I guess it is the world we live in). My post had no mention of money and not one of the tips I gave required money. It seemed that people were applying because one has money they automatically are happy and have everything comes easy.
This saddened me; they are implying that a healthy and happy life is reserved for the uber rich. That is insane! Every single one of us can live whatever life we want, and if you are not, I promise you that the issue is more mental than it is financial.
So today's post is all about happiness, which is fitting because Monday was International Day of Happiness. A lot of people take a look at my Instagram feed or blog and think that I must not have a problem in the world. They think because we have money then we must or should be happy, happy, happy all the time. When I am indeed happy most of the time, I can tell you it has nothing to do with my circumstance. I pride myself in making the best of any situation, which makes "being happy" come easier. This is not something new for me, I have been like this since I was a young adult. Ten years ago I was fresh out of college, working two jobs trying to pay off my student loans, and guess what? I am no happier now than I was then. So when I come off as not having a problem in the world, that is just me making the best of things. I am not going to through the list of things in my life that are currently going wrong, or that I wish I could change. I am not going to focus or give my energy to negatively. Instead, I am going to focus on the positive and try to share how we can all be a little bit happier in our lives.
An interesting fact that I heard on Wednesday was that the United States (one of the richest countries on earth) is no longer on the list of the top 10 happiest countries. Interesting, so even though they have all that money they still are not happy?
There are thousands of studies out there that get down to the nitty-gritty of happiness, and guess what every single study has in common? They all conclude that money does not create happiness. So what does?
I found a great article on this subject from Berkeley Wellness. They say that "Researchers think of happiness as having satisfaction and meaning in your life. It’s the propensity to feel positive emotions, the capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly, and holding a sense of purpose. Happiness is not having a lot of privilege or money. It’s not constant pleasure. It’s a broader thing: Our ability to connect with others, to have meaningful relationships, to have a community. Time and again—across decades of research and all studies—people who say they’re happy have strong connections with community and with other people. That’s sort of the recipe for happiness."
So how does money come in to play? Well, they addressed that as well, "The assumption used to be, yes; more money will make people happier. But we actually have good data on that over the past 100 years. From the 1920s to the 1950s—an era of depression and world war—as household income rose there was an increase in people’s self-reported happiness. But then the line just tapered off. Studies show that money increases happiness when it takes people from a place where there are real threats—poverty—to a place that is reliably safe. After that, money doesn’t matter much. Research by the Nobel laureate psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman showed that money increases happiness until about $75,000 annually, and after that our emotional well-being doesn’t increase with income."
So what makes us happy? From all the research out there it comes down to human connection and community.
"Life circumstances—how privileged you are, whether you’re married, whether you have kids—accounts for about 10 percent of the variance in happiness. She attributes 40 percent—nearly half the variance—to our daily life experiences. The people you see, the activities you do, how you see your world each day."
So what can you do today to get happy today?
- Exercise more - they say just 7 minutes a day in enough to improve our mood!
- Help others - It can be as little as holding a door for someone.
- Sleep more - you will be less sensitive to negative emotion. I wish this one were possible for me ;)
- Spend time with friends and family
- Go outside - If you can handle the cold. I find just stepping outside and taking a few deep breaths can greatly improve how I am feeling.
- Meditate - I use the app 'Headspace' for guided meditation.
- Create a more serene environment - This can be as simple as lighting a candle.
- Act happy (fake it until you make it)
- Start a one-line-a-day gratitude journal
- Donate something
Lastly, I want to touch on the power of positive thinking.
You need to be conscious of what you are thinking and saying, even to yourself. What is in your mind will sink down into your heart. Negative thoughts, words, and attitude create negative and unhappy feelings, moods and behavior. If you want to be a positive, happy, kind, loving person, it all starts with your thoughts!
This can be hard to change overnight, so one thing you can work on today is just being aware when a negative thought enters your mind. Once you are aware of it you can replace it with a constructive one. As you do this over and over again it will eventually train your mind to think positively and ignore negative thoughts.
I hope you all have a beautiful day.