Archive for September, 2008


Giving It Away

Posted by: Barbara | Comments (0)

Happiness is not so much in having as sharing.  We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
….Norman MacEwan, decorated military officer and philosopher

I had the distinct pleasure of spending the weekend with my four-year-old granddaughter Meggie.  As usual we played and sang, read books and took our walk to collect nature’s best leaves, rocks and such.  While out we stopped in the toy store, and I asked Meggie what gift she might like?  She went right to the model animals and picked out two “bootiful black horses” that magically could talk with one another!  Watching her imagine the interplay between the horses and the delight with her new possessions, truly made my day.  For this very small investment, both Meggie and I gained a lot of pleasure!
I’m reminded that people approaching retirement often equate their level of happiness with money.  They believe if only they had “X” amount of dollars then their life would be better. True, money can be a tool to bring happiness, but it isn’t a guarantee!  I bet you know people with a substantial amount of money, who feel bereft and unfulfilled in their life, as well as those with very few assets who find great abundance and happiness! 
Research has shown that after one has enough money to cover the three basics….food, clothing, and shelter, there is really no assurance that more money will increase their happiness quotient.  In spite of our nation’s increased wealth in the last fifty years, more money hasn’t made us happier or particularly healthier either.  As a matter of fact, for some it may even have had a reverse effect by creating more stress and materialism than with previous generations.
What IS notable about happiness and money is how you spend it!  Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard designed studies to determine what effect money had on happiness.  One study examined how employees of a particular company spent their bonuses.  They observed that employees who spent all or some of their money in service to others, experienced more happiness than those who didn’t.  They also found that spending as little as $5.00 a day in a pro-social way significantly increased one’s happiness.   The lesson here is simple… increase your happiness quotient when you spend money on someone else!  That’s right, when you “give it away,” you experience a greater sense of satisfaction than when you spend it on yourself. 
While I am not suggesting you give away your assets, I am encouraging this… when you ponder what to buy next to lift your spirits, remember that if you give a portion of that money to someone or something else, you’ll be left with a more satisfying, longer lasting gift than those extras for yourself! 
Now I’m not sure how long Meggie’s two horses will survive the rigors of a four-year-old’s world, but as for the happy feeling it generated for me…. well, it will be a long and treasured memory!

Categories : Retirement Coaching
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