Dictionary.com defines wealth as “a great quantity or store of money, valuable possessions, property, or other riches.” What’s important to note here is that money is just one aspect of a person’s wealth, yet amassing large sums of money is something many people strive for in life. While financial security is important for our mental, emotional and even physical health, recent studies show that more money doesn’t always equal greater happiness.
Instead, a person’s level of joy and contentment are more of a measure for real wealth, and depend on how you use your money in life – no matter how much you have.
What Scientific Studies Tell Us about Happiness
What makes people truly happy? It seems like a simple question that would have obvious answers, but there are numerous layers to a person’s level of happiness. For decades researchers have been trying to unlock the secret to happiness.
The findings? While people who have a significant amount of money may be marginally happier, there are other factors at play that have significantly more impact on happiness than your net worth.
1. Your Self-Opinion Matters
Research has shown that feeling good about yourself helps you to feel good about everything else in life. So in other words, happiness starts with you. If you tend to think negatively, doubt yourself or don’t accept who you are, it won’t matter how much money you have.
2. Have a Positive Outlook
If you’re the type that considers the glass to be half full and when it’s not you’ll pour a little more in, then you’re probably pretty content. It comes as no surprise that people who are optimistic and have a positive outlook on life are the people that report the highest levels of happiness. However, University of Michigan researchers note that realistic optimists who feel like they are the masters of their own destiny are the people that enjoy greater achievements and higher levels of happiness.
3. Spend on Others Instead of Yourself
A recent Harvard University study looked at how spending on ourselves versus spending on others affected our wellbeing. What the researchers found was that using our money to benefit others gives us greater happiness than buying something for ourselves, no matter how much was being spent. This welcome feeling of goodwill is the same across income levels, cultures, countries and generations.
4. Invest in Experiences
Experiences are worth more than material things in the long run. That was one of the findings in a recent San Francisco State University study. Professor Ryan Howell noted that people thought material purchases would provide more value, but what the study participants ultimately discovered was that tangible things weren’t as fulfilling as spending money on experiences.
Happiness Suggestions for All Income Brackets
Want to live happier no matter how much money you have in the bank? Then it’s time to improve your relationship with money by allocating time and funds to where they really count.
5. Make Time for your Loved Ones
Gary Keller is often heard giving the worthy advice to use money to buy time to spend with the people you love. In other words, leverage monetary wealth to create real happiness. Time with loved ones is priceless, and the moments you miss can’t be bought back. Consider a family vacation to be a great experience investment. Not only that, but psychological scientists at Harvard University recently published findings that showed doing things, even mundane things, with our loved ones makes us happier than doing amazing things on our own.
6. Donate to a Charity
As mentioned above, people that give their money away are happier than those that spend it all on themselves. Even donations as small as $5 can elevate your mood for the entire day and make you happier. Find a charity that you believe in and spend a little to help others that really need it. For a continuous mood boost, become a monthly contributor. Keller Williams and many other businesses can take the donation directly out of your paycheck so you never even miss the money.
7. Become a Mentor
Nothing is more professionally rewarding than watching a mentee’s career grow. Studies have shown that investing your time and energy as a mentor boosts your own self-worth, which has a positive effect on your self-esteem. This increases happiness with yourself and life in general.
8. Volunteer Your Expertise
Share the wealth by passing on your knowledge to others. Teaching others the skills that have helped you make a living can make a lasting impact on another person’s wealth. Or you could just use your skills to benefit a charity that gives back to the community. Skill-based volunteering has been shown to make people feel more satisfied about their volunteer work and can even help you pick up a few new skills to share with others down the road.
Make a difference and give yourself a happiness boost by sharing The ONE Thing with a friend, family member or coworker. In addition to happiness-inducing advice on how to get big results by focusing on ONE Thing, the book also includes suggestions on how you can spread the wealth of knowledge you’ve gained with others.