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4 ways money can make you happy

family self awareness Apr 03, 2017

We have all heard the phrase, "money cannot buy happiness".

This is true.

But can we use our money in ways that are likely to bring us more happiness and contentment as opposed to stress and dissatisfaction?

Sonja Lyubomirsky in her interesting book The Myths of Happiness gives us four principles that psychological science suggests we live by if we want to optimally enjoy our money.

Here is the first principle:

Don't spend money on "stuff"— you will get used to it ("hedonically adapt" to use the technical term).

Moreover, she writes that "A mountain of research has shown that materialism depletes happiness, threatens satisfaction with our relationships, harms the environment, renders us less friendly, likable, and empathetic, and makes us less likely to help others and contribute to our communities. . .". These are just some of the negative effects of unbridled consumerism.

Lyubomirsky suggests that in order to counteract this happiness killer, spend money on experiences and...

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The Happiness Equation

In the book Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, Diener and Biswas-Diener explain the connection between income and happiness.

What they found was that the amount of money a person earned only modestly predicted whether or not they were satisfied with their income. Their studies found that some people with a lot of money could not meet their desires, and others with little money were able to do so.

Based on this research, the authors explain that happiness from one's income boils down to a simple formula – "the happiness equation" – which is:

Happiness = What we (actually) have / what we want (what we aspire to have).

Even those of us with basic math can figure out that according to this equation, as our wants increase, our satisfaction with what we have decreases in comparison and this results in a reduction in our overall happiness level.

So a simple way to increase our life satisfaction, or happiness, it seems, is to keep our wants and desires...

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Can you control your happiness?

Through studies with identical twins separated at birth, scientists have discovered that about 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetics and that we have a "happiness set point"—a level of happiness we tend to gravitate toward.

What this means is that when good or bad things happen to people, they tend to get back to their "happiness set point" quite quickly after the happy or sad event.

Surprising right?

Another 10% (ONLY!!) of our happiness is determined by our life circumstances. Most of us spend so much energy on trying to change our life circumstances but research shows that increasing our wealth, living situation etc. etc. and stuff like that has both a negligible and a temporary impact on our well-being. WOW!

What about the rest of the 40%?

Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the most respected researchers in this field and the author of the brilliant book, The How of Happiness believes that a full 40% of our happiness is fully within our control and depends upon how we...

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Do you envy your neighbor’s lawn?

I have a confession.

As soon as summer starts, I look at the beautiful gardens in my neighborhood and am frankly quite envious of the thick, green, golf course-quality grass and the neatly laid out, lush flower beds that surround our somewhat neglected backyard.

I begin to believe that the grass is, indeed, "greener on the other side of the fence".

It seems so unfair. I, too, want green grass and a beautiful garden.

And then I notice that while I am lazing around in the spring, sipping tea and gazing longingly at their gardens and wishing I had the same . . . the neighbors are out whatever the weather. They are tending to their garden, watering the lawn and weeding and feeding the flower beds.

I realize that it is not unfair after all. Nature, it seems, rewards effort. The grass, it turns out, is greener where it is watered and cared for.

So instead of wasting time and energy on envying the neighbors this summer, I plan to start watering the grass on our side of the fence and work...

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The saddest thing

parenting self awareness Mar 09, 2017

The saddest thing would be if we let the fictitious voice of the confused inner critic stop us from doing what we were meant to do.

Don't you think?

Can you imagine letting something that has no basis in reality come in the way of all the potential good we could do on this planet?

What would the world be deprived of, if you kept yourself small and safe?

The truth is that not a single one of us really knows the extent of our full potential unless and until we push ourselves to go beyond our self doubts, fears and hesitations.

 

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The big secret behind the voice of the inner critic

Consider this: your inner critic actually has the best intentions. S/he fears for your safety. And s/he has taken on the job of the inner critic to keep you safe by keeping you small. If you do take risks, you cannot fail. You will be 'safe'.

In order to keep you safe, your inner critic tells you off, criticizes you and creates doubts and hesitations.

It ALWAYS operates from FEAR.

The fear of failure, of rejection, of not getting it right . . . It does not want you to experience any of these.

Here's the issue, though: It is said that ships are safe in harbour. If they do not leave the harbour they do not have to face the storms and the uncertainties that are inherent in leaving the safety of the dock.

But ships are not made for the harbour, are they?

Just as ships are built to sail out of harbor, you have come here to learn, to grow, to evolve, to share your gifts and to reach your full potential.

You cannot do any of this if you continue to play it safe and small and not leave the...

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What would you tell your best friend?

If a friend expressed self doubt or negative feelings towards himself or herself, what would you tell them? How would you encourage them to be realistically optimistic?

Would you say, "you are so stupid, you will never get this right"?

Or, are you more likely to say, "Yes you made a mistake. Who doesn't? Just learn from it and move on".

Should we not be at least as kind and encouraging to ourselves as we are to our friends?

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Are you aiming for the real prize or the booby prize?

Over the last month, we have discussed many ways to nurture our relationships.

We need to end this discussion with a word of caution.

Sometimes, when we become aware of new insights or learn new skills, our relationships take a turn for the worse!

How is that possible, you ask?

Because, once we learn these skills, we get REALLY good at figuring out how our spouse is falling short of applying these insights and strategies.

This kind of knowledge though, is a booby prize. A booby prize is defined as "a joke prize usually given in recognition of a terrible performance or last-place finish".

Here's the thing: if you are anything like me, you are already pretty good at figuring out how people around you can improve. So no real prizes for that!

Winning at love means taking on the challenge of 'self improvement' rather than 'other-improvement'.

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Ask for what you need

Wouldn't it be lovely if our significant others always knew what we wanted and needed without being told?

While it may be okay to wish this, we sometimes get frustrated when our spouse cannot
read our minds because we have told ourselves "they ought to know".

We begin to expect them to read our minds and predict what we need without having to ask for it.

Not only is this highly unrealistic, it is also a bit silly to blame someone for not being able to read our minds, don't you think?

Women, in particular, seem to find it challenging to ask for what they want.

Once you get the hang of it, however, it becomes much easier (and saves so much time!) to ask for what we need in simple and clear terms.

Try these on for practice!

- it is valentine's day next week. It would make me very happy if you plan an evening out for us.
- It would mean a lot to me if you tried harder to talk to my brother in law even though I know you don't find anything in common with him.
- Can you please watch Samir on...

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Give yourself permission to have a bad day

Some days no matter how hard we try we just cannot seem to get it together, live our purpose, be our best selves, be productive, get over a bad mood . . .

One option on days such as these is to simply accept it as an off day. Have some compassion for ourselves and recognize that this too shall pass.

Tomorrow is another day and another chance to get back on track. Inshallah.

I am often surprised that such phases end quicker than when I try to resist them and make myself wrong for having an off day.

So go on. Next time you are having a bad day, be kind to yourself and take it easy.

Just try and stay out of other people's way ;)

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