You might be surprised at what really makes you happy.
By: Kim Kiyosaki | 05/11/2010
I always thought it an odd question when people asked, “Do you want to be rich or do you want to be happy?” Why in the world do you have to choose one or the other? Why not be both–rich and happy? Instead of debating which one is better, let’s look at both. The focus of this column is happiness. Next month we’ll concentrate on money, specifically on the history of money and how history plays into what’s happening today.
‘I Know What Your Goal Is’
Whether a business owner or an employee, I think it’s safe to assume that people are more productive when they are happy vs. when they are unhappy.
Years ago I attended a seminar where the instructor began the program with this statement: “I bet I can tell you the goal for each person here.” I turned to those around me, and each of us had a skeptical look on our face. The instructor followed with, “I bet the No. 1 goal of everyone in this room is to be happy.” My fellow participants and I couldn’t argue with that. We all wanted to be happy.
What is Happiness?
The million-dollar question is, what is happiness?
Wikipedia says: “Happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure or joy.”
This is what Deepak Chopra writes about happiness:
“Most people are under the impression that happiness comes from becoming successful, accumulating wealth, being healthy and having good relationships.” Chopra says these are all byproducts of happiness, not the cause.
Have you ever said to yourself, “When I have enough money to do whatever I want, whenever I want, then I’ll be happy.” Or, “I’ll be happy once I find the perfect partner.” Or, “When I lose 15 pounds, that will make me happy.” That’s what I believe Chopra is referring to.
I also know of people who have trekked to the foothills of the Himalayas in India in search of enlightenment, looking for happiness. They had a fabulous trip, yet their search continues.
I believe that such an intimate and individual thing as personal happiness cannot possibly come from something outside of you, because then your happiness is not dependent on you, it’s dependent on outside forces you may or may not have any control over.
This sounds like the investment formula I follow–choose investments that you have control over and where you can have influence over the income and expenses. This includes ventures such as your own business, rental real estate and even vending machines.
It’s obvious that happiness can be many things to many people. That is why the seminar instructor was right when he said, “I bet your goal is to be happy.” Defining that happiness is another matter. So I sought to discover where my true happiness lies, and what I found surprised me . . . in a happy way.
3 Keys to What Isn’t Happiness
- Key No. 1: The more I studied happiness and, more significant to me, my personal happiness, I was attracted to articles, books and definitions that carried a similar theme. Basically, I would say I am a pretty happy person. And from my own experience I found that what I thought would bring me happiness often brought me exactly the opposite.
For example, in 1994 my husband, Robert, and I “retired.” I was 37 at the time, and we had more money coming in every month from our investments than we had going out in living expenses.
Finally! Now we’d be happy.
For the first few months it was wonderful not to have the problems and worries of a business. Our time was all ours to do whatever we wanted. And then something unfamiliar crept in–boredom. Being retired was boring. You can only sit on a beach for so long, play so many rounds of golf and rewind the tape of your past successes so many times in your head. That was my first key–happiness was not about relaxing.
- Key No. 2: The second lesson I learned from this experience was that there is no “when.” “When I do such-and-such, then I’ll be happy.” Because when you get there, then what?
I asked myself, “Can happiness really be found when you stop?” As Albert Einstein said, “Nothing happens until something moves.” Isn’t movement the key to life? Not moving certainly can’t be an ingredient to happiness.
- Key No. 3: My mother taught me a great lesson about happiness. My mother was an elementary school teacher in New Jersey when I was growing up. We later moved to Oregon, and she gave up teaching. She was always an active person–tennis, charities, social events–yet she chose not to go back to full-time work. I noticed over the years that she became less happy living in Oregon. When Robert and I moved to Oregon in 1988, our business at the time could operate out of any city. We asked Mom if she’d like to work with us in our day-to-day office. Within only a couple of weeks, I noticed an immediate and positive change in her. To put it in its simplest form–she was happy. At one point, she said to Robert and me, “Thank you for giving me a purpose in life.” I realized at that moment that what she wanted most of all was to contribute. And contribute she did.
I believe most people feel more alive when they are contributing. The third key is that more work, not less, may bring greater happiness.
Happiness–a New Slant
From the above examples I determined that:
- Happiness does not equate with relaxing or being comfortable.
- Happiness does not have a stopping point–you don’t suddenly get there, and that’s it.
- Doing may bring more happiness than not doing.
Here are three definitions that portray what I feel true happiness is:
- John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the U.S., explained happiness as defined by the Greeks. He said, “Happiness is the full use of your powers along lines of excellence.” I translate this to mean using all of your talents, gifts and abilities to do the best possible.
- The Happiness Project is a recent new undertaking by Gretchen Rubin identifying different strategies people have to achieve happiness. The No. 1 strategy she found was this: Seek novelty and challenge even if you value consistency and comfort.
Rubin found that “doing new things is one of the most effective paths to happiness” she has encountered. She went on to write, “The human brain is stimulated by surprise and discovery. Successfully coping with the unfamiliar can provide a high level of happiness. Repeating what we’ve done many times before can be comfortable, but comfortable is not the same as happy.”
- A friend of mine, who passed away recently, was extremely acute regarding the human psyche. Alan’s definition of happiness is a feeling you experience when you and others achieve a successful outcome that matches the vision of what you want. Again, Alan’s definition is about achieving, about using your talents and seeking a challenge.
Looking back on my “happy times,” I am happiest when I am actively pursuing something new. In most cases, I am producing. Interesting that happiness seems to have a direct impact on a person’s level of productivity . . . or is it that when people are producing, this creates the happiness within them?
The Bottom Line
Is happiness reaching that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or is it the experience of achieving new things?
An older actress was asked, “When do you plan to retire?” She responded, “I’ll never retire. I love what I do. The only people who retire are those who don’t love what they do.”
I think that’s why many people may confuse happiness with retirement or a final destination or goal, because they don’t love what they do. Maybe that’s another ingredient in the happiness equation: full use of your powers along lines of excellence, seeking challenges and doing new things, and achieving successful outcomes–while loving what you’re doing.
This may also be the equation for a successful entrepreneur.
source: Entrepreneur.com, Inc.
About Me: Kimberly Flores - Capturing the heart of the Adventure even if it is still in Dream Mode "Lets Make a Point To Leave This Place Better Than When We Came, One Life at a Time." Read more from this author