How Much Money Does It Take To Be Happy?

Once you have $75,000 a year, making more doesn’t help according to Gallup data collected from a half million Americans.

People who earned $55,000 were only 9% more satisfied than those making $25,000 – but they had expected double the satisfaction for the money.

Once you get to $75,000 the beneficial results of earning more income were negligible. 

The Million Dollar Man or Woman is not happier than the ones earning $75,000 a year!

More striking is what we do with our money.

The research shows spending money on everything you’ve ever wanted doesn’t make you as happy as banking it and spending it conservatively or giving it all away.

The secret to monetary pleasure is buying things for others giving additional credence to the adage “’tis better to give than to receive”.

When we give money to others to spend, they are happiest when they, too, spend it on others.

There is a push-effect.

I know a woman whose father and mother have crafted their wills to require their children to give away half the money they are being bequeathed.  And they’ve asked that the people who receive the 50% do the same for someone else.

It takes $75,000 to be as happy as a millionaire or even a billionaire.

But no amount of money makes people happier, according to this data, then those who share what they have.

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Exceed Expectations

The sure and only way to make people happy whether they are family members or customers is to exceed their expectations.

Decades ago, the customer was always right but was the customer always happy?

And in the digital age, it’s getting harder to find happy people.

Recent polls confirm that you can find happy customers at Zappos and Apple support, but most companies fall short in this area.  LiveNation, the concert operator, really falls short in customer expectations.

Parents are guilty as well – promises not kept, time not spent together.

Here’s a short course on exceeding expectations:

  1. If you say it, do it.  When the commitment comes out of your mouth, start planning to deliver.  Promise it for one day longer than you need so you don’t have to make excuses for being one day late.  Then, exceed expectations.
  2. If there is a problem, try “I’m going to make this right”.  No one can ask more than making something right.  Then, commit to the path it will take to deliver on the promise.
  3. Say, “Is there any other way I can be of help?”.  Most people will say “no”, but the sound of satisfaction resonates in goodwill.
  4. The greatest gift you can give a family member or a customer is the gift of your time.  When donating it, give them 100% of your attention.
  5. Listen to the other side of silence – that is, frequently what is not said is the problem you should be trying to work on.

People have simple needs.

At the top of the list is the need to be heard. 

After that, the magic begins to happen.

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You Are Who Your Dog Thinks You Are

The Chair of the Mayo Clinic Mind Body Initiative, Amit Sood, has a novel way for us to look at ourselves – through our pet’s eyes.

“You are who your dog thinks you are – kind, caring, and compassionate. 

“Your pet does not care about your financial net worth, job, health, fame, etc.  All it cares about is your love and your ability to express it. The loving you is the transcendental you that no one can rob”.

What a great way to build self-esteem on how loving we are instead of our material accomplishments.

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Right Place. Wrong Time.

Jessica Ghwai, known professionally as Jennifer Redfield, was an aspiring 24-year old hockey writer who had just gotten her press credentials for the NHL Colorado Avalanche when everything went wrong.

She had escaped from a deadly shooting spree at a Toronto Mall in June grateful for her young life – certainly, enough bad luck for a lifetime.

Then on July 20th at a movie theater in Aurora, CO, Jessica Ghwai died in the arms of her boyfriend whom she convinced to see “The Dark Knight Rises”.  The Aurora gunman broke into the theater and opened fire on unsuspecting movie goers killing Ghwai, 11 others and injuring 59.

We often say, “I was in the right place at the wrong time”.

That happens in life.

Sometimes it happens more than once as in Jennifer Ghwai’s case.

I have come close to meeting my maker twice in life.  Once with a tanker truck that ran a red light in Marlton, NJ and the other with a speeding car that did the same as I was turning in its path in Scottsdale, AZ.

As the adrenalin kicked in I wondered how many other times I got the benefit of being just 30 seconds early, or not on that flight, or otherwise not in harm’s way.

We always know when we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But we don’t always know when we are in the right place at the right time.

Be grateful for that which we can’t always know and go on and live life.

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Change the Way To Face Adversity

The comedian George Carlin said, “I put a dollar in one of those change machines.  Nothing changed”.

The way we deal with adversity on a daily basis requires a long look in the mirror.

As Viktor Frankl put it: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.

Here are some things you might try.  Just one of these makes it easier to face adversity:

  1. Don’t solve problems immediately, just try to deal with them
  2. Use your God-given gifts to battle adversity every day
  3. Be grateful for that which you have

Some problems can be handled right away.

Others take longer – sometimes considerably longer.

And some can never be resolved requiring us to accept them and move on.

Line up the adversity that befalls you and deal with it sustained by the knowledge that what makes it tolerable is to focus on gratitude.

The author Melodie Beattie says:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough and more.  It turns denial in acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity … it turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing and mistakes into important events.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

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