Most people that I know wouldn’t turn down some extra cash if given the chance, including me.
Some days it feels like I will never have enough money to be comfortable and have a good life. Even at times when we have been able to put a little bit of money aside something always happens- some emergency or another, something needs to be replaced, some unexpected bills, and then we are left back at square one again.
So perhaps instead of striving for ways to reach the elusive goal of having MORE its time I look at wealth in a different way.
Unless we win the lottery (which would be a huge surprise as we don’t play the lottery!) or get a great windfall from the death of a distant, unknown, secret millionaire relative it’s not looking like we will be rolling in money any time soon. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t be wealthy in other terms, comfortable and happy with our lot.
This also doesn’t mean that having loads of money is necessarily a bad thing, but that having more money isn’t actually what makes our lives richer.
Contemporary society encourages us to spend money (often money that we don’t have) on things we are made to believe we need when we don’t, to create a false sense of value in our lives or to impress others and keep up with the Jones’s; even if we don’t particularly like the Jones’s and don’t really care about their value and belief systems.
So how can I change my perception of wealth and what steps could we all take to help make us feel happier and more comfortable with our current lot?
Originally the word wealth meant “happiness” and was derived from the middle English word wele which is translated as “well-being” in modern terms.
SO maybe I should look at my true wealth as not being how much money I have but how happy I am and how much I value my life.
Why not try joining me in working towards including some of the following things in your life in order to change our perception of true wealth?
- Give: A lot of research suggests that giving to others and sharing the money that you do have with the people you care about is the best way to turn money into happiness. Research also suggests that the amount of money you give is unimportant- it is the act itself that is important, so even if you have no money to give, giving of your time and of yourself has the same positive affect.
- Be Mindful: This doesn’t mean sitting meditating all day, everyday, it means to just pay attention to the world around you, to be aware of the little things in life that make a difference and to be grateful for what you already have.
- Keep Learning: Learning and taking an interest in the world around you will help you to create meaning, giving you a purpose and a zest for life. Learning new skills encourages neuroplasticity which is the ability of the brain to form new connections, as well as eliminate old ones, throughout life. Due to modern scientific brain research we now know that the brain continues to develop and rewire itself throughout life and that experience can change the brain’s structure and functioning. Keeping the mind active by continuing to learn new skills throughout life may also help reduce brain deterioration and the likelihood of developing dementia.
- Be Active: Physical activity has been shown to have a strong and positive influence on mental as well as physical well being. Even doing just ten minutes of physical activity a day can increase positive emotions, give you more energy and potentially prolong your life. (This is one area I particularly need to work on!)
- Experiences not things: Buying more stuff may feel fleetingly good, but the pleasure derived from purchasing an object is minimal in comparison to the pleasure derived from an experience. This is possibly because experiences encourage connection. You are going to get more joy from spending an evening playing games with your friends and family than you are from a new lipstick for example. And the positive effects of experience continue well after the experience is over. You are left with happy memories and stories to tell which again leads to connecting to others.
6. Connect: Nic Marks, the creator of the happier planet index tells of interesting statistics around social connection versus material wealth:
“People in the bottom 20% income group who had good social relationships were just as satisfied with their lives as those who were in the to 20% earning bracket but enjoyed no such social connections.”
Studies suggest that once your household income is £40,000 any more money gained does not actually increase happiness any further, and the happiness that is created by earning that amount of money can be easier found in other ways. So these statistics suggest that developing positive social connections and strong relationships is a much more efficient way of gaining well being as opposed to gaining more material wealth- this is because making friends and building relationships is something we can all do that doesn’t cost a thing. Making more money is a lot more difficult and in some cases is totally unachievable and unrealistic.
I hope that this has made you think differently about your bank balance!