“I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money,” said Shaquille O’Neal after signing on with the Los Angeles Lakers for a 121 million dollar contract in 1996. “I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.” By the way, his contract with sponsors including Pepsi and Reebok earned him another 15 million dollars a year according to Forbes.
Happiness and Money
Is it about the game or the money? That’s the question we all ask ourselves when we get out of bed each morning. Will it take a cool $136 million to make us happy? Maybe not, according to research conducted by Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage. Shawn’s book sheds light on how happiness can drive success in our careers. The same research is showing that money can't buy happiness. In fact, it’s the other way around.
Happiness can drive behaviours that lead to success and money. What is inescapable is the fact that happiness, a profound contentment, joy and delight in life is not related to money. It exists on its own.
Do You Want to Be Happy?
- Choose happiness. John Milton once wrote “the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Your attitude is the single biggest factor in your own happiness. Recognize that happiness exists in the mind and that you have power over that.
- Stop blaming external factors for your state of mind. One study estimates that external factors predict only 10% of our happiness. For example, it is well known that lottery winners do not become happier over the long term. Furthermore, we tend to overestimate the permanence and significance of our problems. Life can thrust us into circumstances beyond our control, yet we can still experience happiness.
- Change how you view your work. Is your job an opportunity to develop skills, belong to a team, accomplish something significant and get paid? Or is your work an unpleasant distraction from the things that really matter to you? People who are happy tend to see their work as a privilege and an opportunity. This in turn, can drive success and happiness.
- Expect the best. Psychologists tell us that we get what we expect. We have a tendency to expect outcomes that match our pattern of thinking, leading to behaviours that contribute to that outcome. Success leads to more success just as happiness leads to more happiness. If your mind is primed to watch for positive outcomes, you are more likely to see these when they occur.
- Use setbacks to get ahead. When you find a way to profit from adversity you are likely to experience profound gratification and happiness. I have seen so many people who suffered from addictions go on to become addictions caregivers. Similarly, people who have suffered from trauma, have gone on to support victims of trauma. There is no doubt that challenges in your life will rob you of happiness…in the short term. However, happy people tend to use adversity to get ahead in the longer term.
- Take every opportunity to invest in relationships. Caring, committed and lasting relationships are very important to our health and happiness. Building connections with others can result in higher levels of happiness.
Is It About the Game Or the Money?
People who are truly happy tell us that it is all about the game.
Following these six principles can keep you healthy, fulfilled and happy even if you don’t have a contract with Pepsi or Reebok.
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