The Beatles sang, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” and it appears that money can’t buy happiness either.
In a study published in Science magazine, researchers found that although most people believe that they’d be happier if they had more money, when actually put to the test, this assumption was untrue. In fact, the study reports that although people with above-average incomes are relatively satisfied with their lives, they, “are barely happier than others, tend to be more tense, and do not spend more time on enjoyable activities.”
Let’s think about it: Why would that be true? That’s easy to answer. Most often when women earn a promotion or increase in compensation, they get a package deal that goes with it: more responsibilities at work while keeping the same level of responsibility in the other areas of their lives. Women still are running around like crazy people meeting their personal obligations, even though their days are just as crazy.
So where does this belief come from that money equals happiness? When most of us dream about making more money, we think of saving for our future or a future for our kids. We think of a bigger house, more toys or tropical vacations, relaxing on the beach. And those things are good, but those things don’t usually contribute to our happiness on a daily level. If we could only go on a vacation refreshed so we could actually enjoy it — that would be happiness. All too often, what we dream about enjoying is monopolized by the stress of our everyday lives.
But all isn’t lost. There are some steps we can take to increase our overall satisfaction with life, even when we’re making more money!
Eat Better. This will take a little planning but will pay in spades with increased energy and vitality. Do some grocery shopping on the weekend and pick up some items to pack for lunch. A sandwich (low-fat turkey lunchmeat or chicken salad with low fat mayo), soup or salad, and some fruit make for a perfect lunch. And while you’re at it, pack a little snack for your afternoon lull. Good snacks include pretzels, peanut butter on crackers, and yogurt with nuts.
Exercise. Start your day out with a quick, 15-minute walk. Or try a walk after dinner and invite your family or friends along. You’ll find an extra energy reserve if you exercise two to three times per week on a regular basis.
Say “No.” Be clear about your real priorities and try to consider them whenever you are faced with a decision. “If it isn’t an absolute ‘yes,’ it should be a ‘no,”’ Life Coach Cheryl Richardson says. Of course, you can’t do that all the time, but strive to hold to it most of the time.
Delegate. Most of us know to delegate while at work, but we need to delegate at home, too. Often we’re too busy being superheroes to ask for help. The kids can take on cleaning jobs around the house, and given direction, most of our husbands can do a pretty good job as well.
Eliminate Tolerations. Tolerations are all those problems and frustrations you are putting up with instead of taking care of: that button that needs to be sewed, that desk drawer that needs to be cleaned out, that person that monopolizes your time. Think through the hassles that you’re tolerating and develop a plan of attack to eliminate them. You’ll feel the relief!
Live for Today! Take time out to do something just for you. Smell the roses, buy that item at the mall that you’ve been eyeing, or take time to read that book.
And a few thoughts from Timothy Ferriss’ book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,’ that might help:
Follow a model that works. Do you love your job? If not, take some steps to move on — today. “‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you,” Ferriss says.
Be Effective vs. Being Efficient. Being effective is completing tasks and taking actions that bring you closer to your goals. Being efficient is performing a given task in the most economical manner. There’s a difference. Make sure you’re focusing on the right mindset.
Keep in mind Pareto. You know, Pareto, inventor of the 80/20 Rule, which generally means 80 percent of the output result from 20 percent of the input. We commonly hear this in the human resources field that 80 percent of medical costs come from 20 percent of the population. Ask yourself, “Which 20 percent of sources are causing 80 percent of my problems and unhappiness?’ Work to eliminate them. Also ask, “Which 20 percent of sources are resulting in 80 percent of my desired outcome and happiness?’ Work to increase those areas of your life.
With just a little thought and planning you can prove the studies wrong — money can make you happy if you focus on how to enjoy it!
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: The McAlpin
Model: Carrisa Bailey of New View Management Group, Inc.
Makeup Artistry: Chenese Bean Makeup Artistry
Hair Styling: Robin Howard, Ruckus Glamour Studios