The Not So Secret Keys to Happiness

The Huffington Post put up an article titled Everything You Need to Know About the Science Behind Happiness In One Infographic. One of the aims of this site has always been to consider happiness as part of a full financial picture.

The article had some interesting observations. Included in the mix for happiness was the following;

Happy people heal faster, volunteer and help others, have deep friendships and have experienced some adversity.

Gas pump in Lowell

Happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are in life and how good you feel on a day to day basis. I’ve always connected being satisfied in life with not having difficult birthdays. The only tough birthday I had was 25 and sure enough I had a job I hated. Feeling good on a day to day basis would seem to have at least some connection to regular and vigorous exercise (the best part of your workout should be finishing your workout). While we’re at it; don’t drink soda.

For some numbers; 10% of happiness comes from your circumstances, 40% from your thoughts, actions and behaviors and 50% is genetics. I’m not sure I buy the genetics angle and I think the 40% number should be bigger (I believe in the law of attraction).

One random thought in there was to linger, dwell in the moment. This is consistent with the idea of life being about the journey not the destination which we have touched on here over the years, that was also mentioned elsewhere in the article along with savoring experiences. I tend to think of taking pictures as savoring moments.

Grand Canyon

Hindrances to happiness  were mentioned as holding on to resentment, comparing yourself to others and a lack of close friendships. The article placed a lot of importance on friendships but I think I would tweak it to include meaningful engagement with others. Meaningful engagement in the context of some sort of vocation or endeavor you love doing would seem to fit the bill.

The financial tie in here is minimizing the extent you worry about money. People who are over-indebted, find out they have the wrong asset allocation after a large decline, are grossly under-saved versus whatever their long term financial goal is or any other related item increase the threats to their happiness.

The article doesn’t really address monetary issues and while it is probably close to universally accepted that wealth as the single top priority is not an ingredient to happiness some level of wealth probably is. In past posts I have rhetorically asked who is wealthier the man who makes $20,000 and lives like he makes $10,000 or the man who makes $100,000 but lives like he makes $200,000?

Silver Gate MT

With that rhetorical in mind, I would define financial success as income exceeding outgo with enough leftover to save some money and have a little bit of fun.

The other financial tie-in is that once you figure out what makes you happy, you can then plan and save accordingly. When I was 25 and had that job I hated I thought happiness meant being very wealthy. Fortunately I let go of that before 30 so I didn’t waste too much time.

Finally I will close out by repeating a quote from our friend Bill, here in Walker who a long time ago said to us you can figure it out now or you can figure it out later but if you can figure it out now you’ll be a lot happier.

The pictures are all old photos that were in my phone that I Instagrammed.

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