How to be amongst the truly wealthiest people in the world

Happiness-beach-textSo what do you want? What drives us? What’s it all for?

It’s been put forward by the great scholars of our time in positive psychology that the ultimate currency of life is ‘happiness’.

What does it mean to be happy?

The term ‘happiness’ in this context isn’t the two dimensional word you might think of to simply describe a child given a lollipop. The broader definition would include this type of emotional state but also goes much deeper. While the harvard scholars use a broad definition of ‘happiness’ I personally find ‘fulfillment’ a term easier to digest. I’ll use the terms interchangeably in this post and consider their meaning to include all positive emotions and states like Love, Pride, Peace, Hope, Joy, Gratitude, Awe, Inspiration etc.

So what about the bling right? You might be thinking that these new age hippies need to get with the program. Show me the money! Well 15 years of scientific research in the field of ‘positive psychology’ has shown what many who have acquired some bling apparently already knew –  the bling has no zing.

Anecdotally I think we all had a suspicion that this was the case. Didn’t we? If material wealth was the big prize and the key to fulfillment, then why are so many wealthy people suffering from depression? Some commit suicide, many are just unhappy. Not all by any stretch but quite possibly proportionately the same amount as those with average incomes. What about those families who live in impoverished communities around the world? We see documentaries and hear personal accounts of how happy they are. When we really step out of our conditioned beliefs and look at it, there doesn’t appear to be any correlation between people’s material wealth and their fundamental level of happiness and fulfillment.

Still think it’s all about the Benjamin’s?

Well back to the research then. It showed that each of us has our unique well being or happiness baseline. Some days we’re happier and are above that baseline experiencing positive emotions like love or pride or joy and some days we’re sad or frustrated and we’re operating below that emotional baseline… in either case a short time will pass and we’ll return to our inherent equilibrium.

Taking our baselines into account, you might find interesting the research conducted by Psychologist Philip Brickman and his team. They studied baseline happiness and well-being in people who won the lottery. They found that within as little as a single month some winners returned to their baseline level of happiness. If they were unhappy before winning sooner or not so much later that would be unhappy again. It also works the other way around. They found that accident victims who became paraplegic were returning to their baseline level of well being and happiness within as little as a year.

Truth is society sold us down the river with respect to its picture of success. You need to be rich, beautiful, preferably famous and have the latest gadgets. As a result many of us live our lives with true happiness as this elusive conditional prize. ‘One day when I have this then I’ll be happy.’ ‘One day when I get that promotion, then I’ll be happy.’ ‘One day when I’m famous, then I’ll be happy.’

So for many of us we’re heading in the totally wrong direction and could live our whole lives with our potential happiness and fulfillment attached to an outcome that may or may not ever eventuate. Fuck that.

So here’s the basic premise for why happiness and fulfillment trump C-notes and everything else as the ultimate currency in life.

Essentially it’s argued that what we really want is the emotions and states that will eventuate from having those things.

The researchers apply the big ‘Why’ test.

I want lots of money. Why? So I can travel. Why? So I can see the world. Why? Because it’ll make me happy and gives me a sense of awe.

I want to build schools in Africa. Why? So I have a sense of contribution. Why? Because I like helping people. Why? It makes me feel grateful, content and at peace.

Get the idea? Ok cool.

So the great news is, we can do a bunch of things to increase our baselines of happiness, wellbeing and overall fulfillment. So they need not be a conditional reward for some potential event in the future.

We can live with more Love, Pride, Peace, Hope, Joy, Gratitude, Awe, Inspiration right now. So in terms of what Harvard Professor Tal Ben-Shahar calls the ultimate currency of life, you can be amongst the truly wealthiest people in the world, in no time at all.

Want to know how?…Stay tuned.

 

Why our School system sucks…

current-education-systemIsn’t it weird that we spend 10-12 years educating our children on reading, writing, math and a few peripheral subjects but totally omit what I would argue is the most important aspect of a well rounded education system? The subject of how to thrive and succeed at life. The subject of how to find fulfilment and live in a positive state of mind and live on purpose with an intent to live out one’s potential.

There exists so much established wisdom on how to win at the game of life. The more I try and expose myself to it the more I find it hard to fathom that it isn’t collated and summarised into a subject to be studied in our schools. The ancient wisdoms of the Tao Te Ching, or Confucius and Marcus Aurelius, or the classics of ‘Think and Grow Rich’ in itself aggregating 25 years of research into america’s most successful people.

Maybe the dozens of books on positive psychology that have in the last decade solidified a massive body of scientific research proving just what actions you can take today that will lead you to living a happier life. How about the classic ‘How to win friends and influence people’ as a crash course in effective social interaction. Knowledge on goal setting, and visualisation, the power of gratitude, the connection to self through spirituality and meditation. If you think this is up to the parents to teach well that doesn’t work when parents were never given this knowledge either.

This wisdom has always been there, and now in the age of the internet it has never been more accessible. As it currently stands only those who seek it out or have access to an informed mentor are benefiting from it’s unquestionable fruits.

To what level could our society benefit if our children were emerging from school based education empowered with this type of knowledge? The knowledge to win at life. To be fulfilled and successful, whatever that means to them. Embodying this wisdom benefits the individual but the benefits go wider than that. All those who interact with that individual also benefit by association. The individual would likely make contributions on a wide scale so society wins as a result too.

The more people we can inject into adult society with a well rounded knowledge of optimal living the better for everyone. I would envisage we could begin to foster an upward positive cycle that over the course of a generation could change a nation forever. Crime could be slashed, our economy could potentially move into hyper-drive as the level of entrepreneurs explodes and industry benefits from creativity and innovation like never  before. Those who prefer to be employed will likely be more productive and find more meaning in their work leading to fuller happier lives and yet more benefit for all those part of their home dynamic.

Fantasies of grandeur? Unrealistic? There is no doubt many will think so. I would encourage those unconvinced to seek out this wisdom, experience the benefits in their own life and then I hope they too will join me in seeing these possibilities.

We have lived through great times of progressive change in the last few hundred years, the end of slavery and segregation, woman securing their right to vote, gay couples given their right to marriage and no-doubt many more. The tides of change always favour liberation. They favour those who have had less being permitted the same opportunities as those who have had more.

I believe that we are entering a new age of liberation. It’s time we gave everyone especially our children the tools and opportunity to live their lives to their fullest extent, to know early on that there is a calling uniquely for them, that life need not be a mere existence. This crusade will not be for a persecuted minority. This liberation could be the one to set us all free.