Does having more money increase happiness? Apparently winning the lottery doesn’t assure long-term contentment. I know you’re saying, “I’d like to see for myself.” After good fortune of any sort, whether winning Power-ball or getting a pay raise, happiness levels spike for a short time, but return to previous levels after a few months. We seem to have a happiness set point; an innate fixed range.
A study called Lottery Winners and Accident Victims: Is Happiness Relative? compares lottery winners and people who became paralyzed. Researchers found that people who win large sums are no happier, over time, than those injured in accidents. While the study involved a relatively small sample (22 lottery winners, 29 recently injured paraplegics/quadriplegics, 22 controls), it reported that lottery winners were not appreciably happier than controls; deriving less joy from everyday events. Not surprising given that the injured were still coming to terms with a life-changing spinal cord injury and focused on recovery and rehabilitation, the research found that the injured were significantly less happy than the winners or controls. However, they still reported slightly more enjoyment of everyday pleasures than the lottery winners. And, all study participants expected similar future happiness levels.
Happiness is pretty simple. It doesn’t involve winning huge pots of money (although buying a lottery ticket is cheap entertainment; inspiring dreams about what you’d do with the windfall). Want to be happy? Try these:
- Be grateful
- Nurture relationships with family and friends
- Help others
- Savor life’s pleasures; whatever brings you joy
- Move, especially outdoors. Make exercise a habit
- Discern and take action in the direction of your goals
I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming. Goethe
We’re happy that we’re visiting our kids. While getting to Kodiak Island requires complicated travel, it’s worth it. We’ll have time for playing and projects; trips for ice cream and to the library; going to the beach and watching the planes land. Hopefully, we’ll have some hours without rain, but we have no control over the weather. The good news is we’re as happy as we make up our minds to be. And depending on your viewpoint, that’s the bad news too.
© Joan S Grey, 10 June 2016
IndexCardCure™: living life intentionally