3 Key Lessons for Personal & Professional Happiness

What does Quality of Life or Happiness really mean for you? Does bigger really mean happier? Who’s happiness is greater; those that live below, within, or above the 20-70 percentile of what is traditionally classified as “the norm” on our planet?

My wife’s recent browsing of Facebook & seeing messages about her upcoming high school reunion back in OZ inspired our Sunday morning coffee conversation about the significance of happiness.

Without passing judgment on anyone’s choices, conversations between friends & family inevitably lead to who’s up to what, when, where, with whom & how they manage it. I’ve been on both sides of the “adventure fence”; life in the fast & slow lane. As a matter of fact, it seems that for most of the past 45 years I’ve been consistently flip-flopping back & forth.

Within 30 minutes of our chat “But what will make you happy” came onto my computer screen and I had suddenly found my inspiration for this Positive Monday Post.

Getting off the “work-spend treadmill”..

So one day she stepped off the “work-spend treadmill.” Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number.

The couple was starting to find their identity in their passion & purpose, thus identifying the possessions which they chose to give relevance to instead of allowing their possessions to identify them.

Key lesson to happiness #1; Don’t allow the status-quo to dictate your state of happiness. Whilst friends lives (and even dreams) may inspire you, look for what’s at the base (underbelly) of their happiness instead of what’s on the surface. Be inspired by, and imitate, what’s at the core as it relates to your own personal purpose & passions. And you’ll be rewarded with equal or greater happiness.

Less income.. yet less debt as well..

Mr. Smith went on to study whilst Ms. Strobel downsized her life, taking her income from $42,000 to $23,000.. just covering their bills. They are still car-free but have bikes. One other thing they no longer have: $30,000 of debt.

Now the couple have money to travel and to contribute to the education funds of nieces and nephews. And because their debt is paid off, Ms. Strobel works fewer hours, giving her time to be outdoors, and to volunteer, which she does about four hours a week for a nonprofit outreach program called Living Yoga.

Key lesson to happiness #2; When less equals more. Having determined what truly will make you happy, it’s time to make a plan. Set a strategy to achieve your happiness as it’s within your grasp if only you believe in it enough. Don’t over-estimate the challenges, nor underestimate the rewards for yourself. The mind is a most powerful instrument & can help you achieve anything you desire if only you can step outside (beyond) your limiting beliefs.

How to better invest in happiness..

“We’re moving from a conspicuous consumption — which is ‘buy without regard’ — to a calculated consumption,” says Marshal Cohen, an analyst at the NPD Group, the retailing research and consulting firm.

“The idea that you need to go bigger to be happy is false,” (Ms. Strobel’s mother). “I really believe that the acquisition of material goods doesn’t bring about happiness.”

“This actually is a topic that hasn’t been researched very much until recently,” says Elizabeth W. Dunn, an associate professor in the psychology department at the University of British Columbia, who is at the forefront of research on consumption and happiness. “There’s massive literature on income and happiness. It’s amazing how little there is on how to spend your money.”

Key lesson to happiness #3; Conspicuous vs. calculated consumption is a key learning. It’s an investment in your future as well as your happiness. Whether investing money, or your energy & time, which is even a more valuable resource, are you exerting it without regard or are you being calculative?

It’s both personal & professional..

The power of this blog is that anything shared here is applicable at both a personal, as well as professional level. Last month’s articles were all about Effectiveness, both in your personal & professional life. This month of August I’m focusing on development & growth.

At home, work or play, where are you aligned with the three key lessons to happiness listed above? What changes if any, and how soon, do you need to integrate into your personal or professional life?

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