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Best Way to Happiness PDF Print E-mail
Written by John D. Buerger, CFP®   
Saturday, 20 February 2010 21:18
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John Buerger

This is a WIWEK - What I Wish Everyone Knew.  I've been a financial planner for eight years.  I have thousands of hours of education and many times that of experience in helping people making smarter choices with their money.  This is one of many rules of personal finance that I wish everyone knew, but most don't.  We don't teach this in schools.  There are also too many people who make too much money when you don't know this stuff.  I hope this post helps you.

Today's WIWEK is more of a rule of life than a rule of personal finance ... but it is a rule of life that definitely applies to your money.  It is also a concept that is best presented to you through an 18 minute video.  I know 18 minutes is a long time in this world of instant gratification ... but I assure you it is worth the time to watch.

There is an old prayer that goes: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  This week's post delivers an answer to this prayer - and a framework you can use to find greater happiness every day.

Quit Focusing on the Outcome

We have all become pre-disposed to investing in the outcome - "I'll be happy if only ..."  But the "If ... then ..." mindset is a mental trap that is flawed in every way.  Srikumar S. Rao explains:

It is always the simple truths in life that go unnoticed.  Dr. Rao identifies one of the most common causes of human stress.  It affects almost every person.  The fix is simple but (a) very few of us know the problem exists until it is pointed out and (b) fewer still will muster the energy and make the effort to institute the mind shift that is necessary to enjoy the solution.

There is the old saying that, "Common sense ... isn't common."

Here you go.  The simple truth is being laid at your feet.  The solution is being handed to you on a silver platter.  It simply takes making a "shift" in your thinking and building one new habit (remember, habits are formed in as little as 30-45 days).

This isn't hard.

It's a Choice

"Unity is plural and, at minimum, is two." - R. Buckminster Fuller

Everything in life comes with opposites.  For unity to exist you need counter-balancing opposites to coexist.  Life is full of choices between these opposites - understanding that one can never completely eliminate one side of the equation without rendering the other side irrelevent or severely unstable.  You can't have "good" without "bad."  "Happy" has no meaning without "sad" against which to juxtapose it.

When it comes to the human psyche, the outcome you get is a direct result of the choice between two types of emotional circuits.

We are all wired with fear-based reactive mechanisms.  These have served us well over the thousands of years homosapiens have thrived on this earth.  But every one of us also has complimentary emotional circuits that are positive and proactive in nature.   These "values-based" circuits create positive emotions just as fear-based circuits seem to produce a proclivity of negative feelings.

The balance of your outlook on life (happy or sad) is a direct result of the balance of emphasis on each of these emotional circuits (which happen to operate in completely different parts of the brain). 

Values Are Process

Your values are those things that are most important to you.  There are three levels of values.  The lowest (least potent) of these are myopic in nature.  They also are usually centered around traditional emotions - safety, protection, comfort, celebration, having fun or being rich.  They are very results-oriented.

The second stage of values are more interactive and involve others - taking care of family, friends, my community or the poor.  Notice that these objectives are ongoing.  You are never done helping the poor or providing for your family.  They are less tangible and more process based.  They are less about an end result and more about action and interaction.

The highest stage of values usually involve spritual elements - "feel closer to God," "fulfilling my purpose" or "being the best person I can be."  These values are completely process based with no tangible results.

It's All About Control - Again

When it comes to being happy, studies have shown that more money is not the answer.  Once you are above the pure poverty level, having more money does nothing to improve your happiness.  In fact, in many cases having more money makes people more miserable.  As Dr. Rao points out, focusing on a tangible result simply does not work.

When you focus on the process - being a certain type of person or acting a certain type of way - and especially if that process is in alignment with your values you CAN achieve the desired outcome which greatly improves your happiness.  This happens because the desired outcome is a way of being or acting not having.

Once again (just like last week), the key is to focus on those things in life over which you have control.  "Who you are" are qualities over which you have complete control.  "What you have" are things that are far less certain.

Focusing your energy on Who You Are will undoubtedly result in fewer frustrations and a happier you.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 February 2010 20:37