Money can buy happiness, but happiness is also free

By John Baxter

There was on a comic strip that has stuck with me the last 40 years. The first frame showed a young man sitting at his office desk saying, “I only make $25,000 a year. If I could make $50,000 a year, then I would be happy.”  In the second frame the now middle-man explains, “Now I make $50,000 a year and I’m still not happy.” The last third frame shows that same man standing, pointing his finger to the sky and saying, “But! if I made $100,000, then I would be happy.”

The research shows money does make you happy. According to the psychologist at Purdue University and the University of Virginia, the ideal income for the optimal, peak happiness is now $95,000 a year and after that much money, the degree of happiness starts to decline. 

That much money is earned by less than one percent of the world. Does that mean the other 99% of the world’s population is not happy?

When you can’t have the money to make you happy, what works to make people happy if they don’t have money?

Try these ten to raise your level of happiness:

  • Kindness: Studies show being kind to people even in little ways or volunteering to help raises one’s level of happiness.
  • Friendship: People with strong connections to friends and family, people they can talk and laugh with are happier, healthier people.
  • Time: Finding time for yourself is another proven method of raising one’s happiness level.
  • Exercise: Endorphins improve our mood through exercise. Regular exercise has shown to have many benefits and making use feel happier is one of them. But, not just any exercise. Choose an exercise you enjoy. I personally love swimming laps. I feel so good after that. What would be your form of exercise?
  • Nature: Have you ever sat and watch the rolling ocean waves, the swaying trees in a breeze or looked out at a vast expanse like hills, valleys, oceans or sky. Or, maybe you prefer watching a small bird flying, a flower about to bloom, or some other nature’s flora or fauna.
  • Fun: Don’t underestimate fun. When was the last time you had fun? What were you doing?  I like dancing. I would take myself to a place to dance.
  • Acquaintances: According to an abstract in the  Personality and Social Psychology bulletin studies show that even short interactions with acquaintances can boost your happiness level, so get out and smile at people.
  • Now: Stay in the “now.” The only thing we have is the present moment. Looking back at the past can bring on regrets or longings. Looking toward the future can bring on fear, anxiety, and stress. The present is all we have and where peace and contentment can be found.
  • Sleep: Ever not get a good night sleep and wake up feeling wonderful? Yeah, me neither. A good night’s sleep is a mood changer for the better, according to research.
  • Meditation:  Does your mind control you or do you control your mind? Meditation can help reign in your thoughts with just a few simple techniques.
  • Music: Belt out one of your old favorite songs (no breakup songs) or listen to your favorite music. Studies show it raises your wellbeing (happiness level.)

Notice that none of these have to do with money. Almost anything can be done for free to raise one’s level of happiness.

We’ll  look at these and more over the next few weeks to find out what makes people happy.

More later,

John

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