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How much does happiness cost?

Many of us have bought into the theory that the more money we make, the happier we are in life. An interesting study published in the Journal of Emotion found that higher income earners experience positive emotions that are self-focused, while people earning less take greater pleasure in relationships. When the researchers looked more closely at the descriptions of emotions by higher and lower income groups they found that the former used words like pride and contentment while the latter group described compassion and love. Wealthier individuals focus on their accomplishments, status, and individual achievements while less wealthy individuals find happiness in connecting and caring for others. The conclusion from this study is that wealth doesn't guarantee happiness, and that while both groups are capable of happiness, they experience it differently.

Sometimes we lose sight of what is important and get fixated on living the so-called American dream. We value possessions over people. We may not brag about our accomplishments outright, but instead compete with others over our busyness. We want everyone to know how full are lives are so that they will be impressed. Or maybe we brag about our social media connections and presence. Of course we are all guilty at times of attempting to prove our worthiness through our achievements, social status, and successful lives. Sometimes a large dose of humility is needed. We can also benefit from focusing on what we have instead of what we want. Remember the bumper sticker, "whoever has the most toys wins?" Do they really? We sometimes sacrifice our time and our relationships in exchange for our wealth.

Time is our most valuable asset. When we give the gift of time to be with others we all benefit. Most people desire our "presence over presents". With that said, we need to be more intentional about using our time wisely. Make the decision to disconnect from all screens for blocks of time and instead engage with the people you love. Work on setting boundaries and saying no when you're getting pulled in multiple directions. Our legacy will be based on our connections, not our possesions. Instead of getting consumed by success, shift your focus to significance. Ask yourself: Have I had a positive influence on my family, friends, community? And how do I want to be remembered? Relationships are the heart and soul of our human existence.

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