We’ve all heard that money can’t buy happiness, but do we believe it? It’s easy to imagine how money could solve our problems, especially when we’re talking about debt, but is money a requirement for happiness? Can we be happy on any income?
My belief is that we really can be happy no matter what our bank account or our paychecks look like. In fact, I think that being happy where you’re at actually helps you progress faster to where you’d like to be. Contentment will save you more money and pay off more debt than feeling sorry for yourself will.
Don’t mistake content for “satisfied with the status quo” or “without motivation to make forward strides.” For me, contentment means being happy at every stage in the game and not letting our circumstances dictate our level of happiness.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel genuinely happy or to pull yourself out of a slump. Some people have a more natural inclination to happiness while others have to work harder at it. Here are some of the ways that help me keep my perspective and find joy in the journey, not just at the finish line.
1- Don’t compare
When we compare ourselves with others we are never comparing apples with apples. Our perspective will always be skewed. We can never take into account all the facets of their experience, struggles, work, talents, etc, so we will never make a fair comparison.
Don’t ask how much other people make. Don’t feel jealous of someone’s home or car or job. Don’t assume that someone else has a perfect life.
When we compare, either we will feel jealous or we will feel prideful. Neither pride nor jealousy will help you achieve your goals and they certainly won’t make you happy!
2- Focus on your blessings
Instead of dwelling on what we don’t have, let’s focus our attention on what we do have. The more you focus on being grateful, the happier you will be. There is always a reason to give thanks, even when everything seems to be going wrong.
If you’re really struggling, try making an actual list of the people, experiences, opportunities, and blessings in your life.
When gratitude becomes a habit, happiness will follow.
3- Serve others
When I am in a slump thinking my life is hard, the fastest way to get myself out of it is to go outside myself and help someone else. It’s amazing how much lighter my burden feels when I let it go so I can carry someone else’s.
Visit someone who’s lonely. Surprise your spouse with something special. Read a few extra books to your kids. Help someone do something hard.
Serving others helps change your attitude and gives you a new perspective.
4- Improve yourself
Improve yourself and do it for the right reasons (see #1). Set a goal and challenge yourself. Self-mastery, learning, and personal improvement will be more fulfilling than a perceived competition.
Learn a new skill. Brush up on an old one. Memorize something motivational. Exercise. Read a book.
Feeling better about yourself will help you to be happy no matter your financial status.
If you aren’t happy when you make $20K, you won’t be happy making $120K because happiness doesn’t come from money. Can you imagine how much life we waste when we say “I’ll be happy when…” and believe it?
How about you?
- Do you catch yourself saying “I’ll be happy when…”?
- What helps you to be content even when your financial picture isn’t pretty?
- What do you do to pull yourself out of a slump?
- How does being happy help you make progress toward your goals?
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