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How to be at Peace with Money

Many try to find happiness from their marriage, children, job or possessions (money).  Some feel that if they could just get just a little bit more (e.g., a fancy convertible car or boat) then they would be happy.  However, when we try to find happiness outside of yourself, then happiness is fleeting.  Money and soul mates can come and go, yet happiness can only come from the core of who you are.  If you are happy with who you are, then happiness from money or a soul mate will enhance your happiness but it will not make you happy. I will not deny that having money is better than not having money.  And, having enough money for the basic standard of living does bring a sense of security, thus less fear of survival, leaving room for happiness.  Yet, after having enough money for survival, money has little impact on one's day to day happiness.  In a study, the proportion of population that is happy did not vary greatly in income levels above $50,000. 

"Don't worry, be happy"
- Bobby McFerrin

If life could only be as easy as just being happy.  As I am writing this, I have gone through a few days of worrying how my wife and I are going to juggle two mortgages.  We bought a new house and are still trying to sell our current house.  Due to the slow economy here in Cleveland, it is taking some time to sell our house.  During this time, I have been thinking that if only we can sell our house then I will be happy.  Yet, life does not work this way.  If someone's thought system was "I will be happy when _____ (fill in the blank).", then happiness will be fleeting.  Lasting happiness comes from being happy no matter what is going on around you.  There are stories from concentration camp about how some Jewish prisoners gave thanks before eating.  When asked why they were thankful, they simply replied "because I am not like them".

Happiness is always inside of us.  We just cover it up with our drama and stories of why we can not be happy.

I remember years ago telling a family friend that I was attending an Unity church.  She replied "Oh, the happy church".  At first I was taken back because I interpreted her comment as a snide remark.  Yet, then I thought about it some more and wondered what was wrong with being happy.  In today's society, we create drama and struggle in our lives to keep our adrenalin going.  We rather complain about the traffic jam, our bad bosses and how we can not seem to get ahead rather than say I am happy with whatever happens.  Do you think that the Pope or Dali Lama get upset if they get caught behind traffic (or get delayed in other ways)?  Happiness is about dropping the struggle and being at peace with what is going on even in what seems to be dire circumstances.

Exercise: What is keeping you from being happy?

Exercise: What is going on in your life that you are grateful/happy for?

Ways to increase your happiness

  • Avoid watching or reading the news for 30 days (journalists have a way of increasing the drama to sell their product)
  • Be present in the moment (meditate or pray)
  • Practice gratitude; feel abundance rather than feel lack
  • Take the energy out of drama; tell your story as if it was a history lesson rather than as a dramatic news story
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