The Gift by Edith Eger: Combat Victimhood. Be Ready For Change. Forgive. Take The Risk.

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Edith Eger was only a teenager when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz. She never saw her father and mother again. While she showed amazing mental strength to survive those horrors, it took her decades more before should could fully process and heal. I’ve seen her book The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life on multiple reading lists, and now I understand why. She provides a new lens to view your own traumatic experiences and useful insights on how you can escape the prison of your own mind:

Eger explains that the worst prison she experienced is not the prison that Nazis put her in but the one she created for herself, the prison within her own mind. She describes the twelve most pervasive imprisoning beliefs she has known—including fear, grief, anger, secrets, stress, guilt, shame, and avoidance—and the tools she has discovered to deal with these universal challenges.

I should warn you that this book describes some very graphic traumatic events that she and her patients have experienced. It will likely trigger some emotional memories of your own personal traumas, so be prepared and choose carefully when and where you read this book. (Not a light beach read in public!)

This is not a finance book. However, money is emotional. Fear, guilt, shame, avoidance. Right now, there is a millionaire that is too afraid to spend any money. Right now, someone is buying something they can’t afford to impress someone else and not seem “lesser”. How many bills are sitting on a counter unopened, with the debtor just hoping that ignoring it will make it go away?

We spend money on food and shelter, but we also spend money to satisfy our emotional needs of affection and attention. Buying a house is an emotional purchase. Your job ends up being more than money for a task. In this context, here are a few selected book highlights:

We do not change until we’re ready.

We do not change until we’re ready. Sometimes it’s a tough circumstance—perhaps a divorce, accident, illness, or death—that forces us to face up to what isn’t working and try something else. Sometimes our inner pain or unfulfilled longing gets so loud and insistent that we can’t ignore it another minute. But readiness doesn’t come from the outside, and it can’t be rushed or forced. You’re ready when you’re ready, when something inside shifts and you decide, Until now I did that. Now I’m going to do something else.

Always replace a dysfunctional habit with a healthy one.

Change is about interrupting the habits and patterns that no longer serve us. If you want to meaningfully alter your life, you don’t simply abandon a dysfunctional habit or belief; you replace it with a healthy one. You choose what you’re moving toward. You find an arrow and follow it. As you begin your journey, it’s important to reflect not only on what you’d like to be free from, but on what you want to be free to do or become.

Take the risk! Why not?

I’d been teaching psychology at a high school in El Paso for a few years—and had even been awarded teacher of the year—when I decided to return to school for a master’s in educational psychology. One day my clinical supervisor came to me and said, “Edie, you’ve got to get a doctorate.” I laughed. “By the time I get a doctorate I’ll be fifty,” I said. “You’ll be fifty anyway.” Those are the smartest four words anyone ever said to me.

Honey, you’re going to be fifty anyway—or thirty or sixty or ninety. So you might as well take a risk. Do something you’ve never done before. Change is synonymous with growth. To grow, you’ve got to evolve instead of revolve.

Freedom is about becoming your true self.

Finally, when you change your life, it isn’t to become the new you. It’s to become the real you—the one-of-a-kind diamond that will never exist again and can never be replaced. Everything that’s happened to you—all the choices you’ve made until now, all the ways you’ve tried to cope—it all matters; it’s all useful. You don’t have to throw everything out and start from scratch. Whatever you’ve done, it’s brought you this far, to this moment.

Much of our suffering stems from our misconception that we can’t be loved and genuine—that if we are to earn others’ acceptance and approval, we must deny or hide our true selves.

Survivors vs. victims.

In my experience, victims ask, “Why me?” Survivors ask, “What now?”

Suffering is universal. But victimhood is optional.

We’re going to be affected by environmental and genetic factors over which we have little or no control. But we each get to choose whether or not we stay a victim. We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose how we respond to our experience.

I’ve skipped many more highlights for dealing with more personal issues. This a great book on helping you deal with your own mind prisons. It was hard to ask myself all these questions, and I didn’t always like the answers, but it definitely taught me some things about myself and my framing of past issues.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Richer, Wiser, Happier: Notes From 40+ Super Investors NOT Named Warren Buffett

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It was very telling that the first chapter of Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World’s Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life by William Green was a profile of Mohnish Pabrai. In other words, not Warren Buffett! If you aren’t a student of value investing, then you probably have never even heard of him before. He is best known for a being a “clone” investor.

“I’m a shameless copycat,” he says. “Everything in my life is cloned.… I have no original ideas.” Consciously, systematically, and with irrepressible delight, he has mined the minds of Buffett, Munger, and others not only for investment wisdom but for insights on how to manage his business, avoid mistakes, build his brand, give away money, approach relationships, structure his time, and construct a happy life.

That descriptor always seemed a bit derogatory, but after reading more about Pabrai in this book, I grew quite a lot of appreciation and respect for his approach. If you also like collecting outside wisdom (especially about investing) and incorporating into your life, you will likely enjoy this book as well. Green is an excellent writer and journalist that has managed to interview over 40 of the world’s greatest investors (many of which I’d never heard of until now), and this became the most heavily-highlighted book in my Kindle. Here are a fraction of them:

Mohnish Pabrai

Rule 1: Clone like crazy. Rule 2: Hang out with people who are better than you. Rule 3: Treat life as a game, not as a survival contest or a battle to the death. Rule 4: Be in alignment with who you are; don’t do what you don’t want to do or what’s not right for you. Rule 5: Live by an inner scorecard; don’t worry about what others think of you; don’t be defined by external validation.

Cloning Buffett, who once showed him the blank pages of his little black diary, Pabrai keeps his calendar virtually empty so he can spend most of his time reading and studying companies. On a typical day at the office, he schedules a grand total of zero meetings and zero phone calls. One of his favorite quotes is from the philosopher Blaise Pascal: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” […] He says it helps that his investment staff consists of a single person: him. “The moment you have people on your team, they’re going to want to act and do things, and then you’re hosed.”

John Templeton

To his credit, Templeton was especially demanding of himself. Take his attitude toward saving and spending. “After my education, I had absolutely no money and neither did my bride,” he told me. “So we deliberately saved fifty cents out of every dollar we earned.”

Distrustful of debt, he always paid cash for his cars and homes. He also claimed that his wartime bet was the only time he ever borrowed money to invest. During the Great Depression he’d seen how easy it was for overextended people to come undone, and he regarded fiscal discipline as a moral virtue.

Howard Marks

“Look, luck is not enough,” he says. “But equally, intelligence is not enough, hard work is not enough, and even perseverance is not necessarily enough. You need some combination of all four.

He plans to work indefinitely because he finds it intellectually rewarding, not because he has an “unquenchable” thirst for money or status. He recalls his Japanese studies professor explaining a Buddhist teaching that “you have to break the chain of getting and wanting”—an aimless cycle of craving that leads inevitably to suffering.

Irving Kahn

Kahn became Graham’s teaching assistant at Columbia in the 1920s, and they remained friends for decades. I wanted to know what he’d learned from Graham that had helped him to prosper during his eighty-six years in the financial markets. Kahn’s answer: “Investing is about preserving more than anything. That must be your first thought, not looking for large gains. If you achieve only reasonable returns and suffer minimal losses, you will become a wealthy man and will surpass any gambler friends you may have. This is also a good way to cure your sleeping problems.”

Just think for a moment about those basic ingredients that helped to make for a richly rewarding life. Family, health, challenging and useful work, which involved serving his clients well by compounding their savings conservatively over decades. And learning—particularly from Graham, an investment prophet who, Kahn said, “taught me how to study companies and succeed through research as opposed to luck or happenstance.”

Joel Greenblatt

This raises an obvious but crucial question: Do you know how to value a business? There’s nothing admirable or shameful about your response. But you and I need to answer this question honestly, since self-delusion is a costly habit in extreme sports such as skydiving and stock picking. “It’s a very small fraction of people that can value businesses—and if you can’t do that, I don’t think you should be investing on your own,” says Greenblatt. “How can you invest intelligently if you can’t figure out what something is worth?”

These experiences have led him to an important revelation: “For most individuals, the best strategy is not the one that’s going to get you the highest return.” Rather, the ideal is “a good strategy that you can stick with” even “in bad times.”

Charlie Munger

Munger often preaches about the importance of avoiding behavior with marginal upside and devastating downside. He once observed, “Three things ruin people: drugs, liquor, and leverage.”

Asked for career advice, he opines: “You have to play in a game where you’ve got some unusual talents. If you’re five foot one, you don’t want to play basketball against some guy who’s eight foot three. It’s just too hard. So you’ve got to figure out a game where you have an advantage, and it has to be something that you’re deeply interested in.”

Survivorship bias! I would say that one of the dangers of this book is that it may make you want to be a stock picker. All of the people profiled are probably have a net worth of over $50 million if not much more. Many made a few bold bets, and they paid off big. I want an oceanfront house in Newport Beach, my own private jet, and a vintage car to drive across Asia too!

The rewards for investing intelligently are so extravagant that the business attracts many brilliant minds.

Beating the market means being different. Can you make “unconventional bets that the crowd would consider foolish”? Are you a good fit for the “bizarrely lucrative discipline of sitting alone in a room and occasionally buying a mispriced stock”? Do you have enough humility to make a good judgment, mixed with the self-confidence to bet big when you think you have an edge?

Even if you think you do, survivorship bias reminds us that there are many, many highly-intelligent, hard-working people who tried their best to apply these concepts, but did not succeed. They are missing from the pages of this book, and you’ll never read their stories.

The true goal is independence. The good news is that you don’t need be a great stock picker. Even if you just invest in low-cost index funds and can stick with it, you can do quite well and still achieve the ability to be independent and become in control of your time on Earth.

Buffett said, “If you’re even a slightly above average investor who spends less than you earn, over a lifetime you cannot help but get very wealthy.”

Howard Marks: “Most people should index most of their money.”

The pattern is clear. In their own ways, Greenblatt, Buffett, Bogle, Danoff, and Miller have all been seekers of simplicity. The rest of us should follow suit. We each need a simple and consistent investment strategy that works well over time—one that we understand and believe in strongly enough that we’ll adhere to it faithfully through good times and bad.

“You build capital and then you can do whatever you want because you’re independent.” For many of the most successful investors I’ve interviewed, that freedom to construct a life that aligns authentically with their passions and peculiarities may be the single greatest luxury that money can buy.

p.s. Here is a list of the people profiled in this book; I can’t guarantee I got all of them but it’s definitely close. A good source for additional research.

  • Sir John Templeton
  • Irving Kahn
  • Bill Ruane
  • Marty Whitman
  • Jack Bogle
  • Charlie Munger
  • Ed Thorp
  • Howard Marks
  • Joel Greenblatt
  • Bill Miller
  • Mohnish Pabrai
  • Tom Gayner
  • Guy Spier
  • Fred Martin
  • Ken Shubin Stein
  • Matthew McLennan
  • Jeffrey Gundlach
  • Francis Chou
  • Thyra Zerhusen
  • Thomas Russo
  • Chuck Akre
  • Li Lu
  • Peter Lynch
  • Pat Dorsey
  • Michael Price
  • Mason Hawkins
  • Bill Ackman
  • Jeff Vinik
  • Mario Gabelli
  • Laura Geritz
  • Brian McMahon
  • Henry Ellenbogen
  • Donald Yacktman
  • Bill Nygren
  • Paul Lountzis
  • Jason Karp
  • Will Danoff
  • François Rochon
  • John Spears
  • Joel Tillinghast
  • Qais Zakaria
  • Nick Sleep
  • Paul Isaac
  • Mike Zapata
  • Paul Yablon
  • Whitney Tilson
  • François-Marie Wojcik
  • Sarah Ketterer
  • Christopher Davis
  • Raamdeo Agrawal
  • Arnold Van Den Berg
  • Mariko Gordon
  • Jean-Marie Eveillard
  • Guy Spier
My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Happiness Exercises: Take Action To Improve Your Well-Being

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As I reach the end of the 10-week free Yale Happiness Course, I definitely recommend this course if you are ready to commit time and effort into making yourself feel better mentally. One of the key points is the G.I. Joe fallacy, which is the false notion that knowing about a mental bias is enough to overcome it. Knowing isn’t enough! Taking repeated action is required to achieve lasting change.

As such, much of the course is based on “rewirements”, but I think of them as “happiness exercises” because they only work temporarily for me. When I do them, I feel better immediately and for a little while afterward, but the effect wears off. This is similar to my experience with diets, in that diets don’t work.

Once you go back to your original eating habits, you’ll go back to your original weight. Therefore, any changes you make should be something you can maintain for the rest of your life.

Can you really change your life to include these habits? Well, here are the happiness exercises, along with a short description from the Yale course. Try each one for a week and discover which ones work best for your personal situation. I found the prompts to commit acts of kindness and initiate social connections were the most helpful, and a really do hope to keep them up forever. (I’ve already been working on the sleep and exercise bits for a while.)

Savoring

Savoring is the act of stepping outside of an experience to review and appreciate it. Often we fail to stay in the moment and really enjoy what we’re experiencing. Savoring intensifies and lengthens the positive emotions that come with doing something you love. For the next seven days, you will practice the art of savoring by picking one experience to truly savor each day. It could be a nice shower, a delicious meal, a great walk outside, or any experience that you really enjoy. When you take part in this savored experience, be sure to practice some common techniques that enhance savoring. These techniques include: sharing the experience with another person, thinking about how lucky you are to enjoy such an amazing moment, keeping a souvenir or photo of that activity, and making sure you stay in the present moment the entire time.

Gratitude

Gratitude is a positive emotional state in which one recognizes and appreciates what one has received in life. Research shows that taking time to experience gratitude can make you happier and even healthier. For the next seven days, you will take 5-10 minutes each night to write down five things for which you are grateful. They can be little things or big things. But you really have to focus on them and actually write them down.

Random Acts of Kindness

Research shows that happy people are motivated to do kind things for others. Over the next seven days, you will perform seven acts of kindness beyond what you normally do. You can do one extra act of kindness per day, or you can do a few acts of kindness in a single day. These do not have to be over-the-top or time-intensive acts, but they should be something that really helps or impacts another person. For example, help your colleague with something, give a few dollars or some time to a cause you believe in, say something kind to a stranger, write a thank you note, give blood, and so on.

Social Connection

Our social connections matter. Research shows that happy people spend more time with others and have a richer set of social connections than unhappy people. Studies even show that the simple act of talking to a stranger on the street can boost our mood more than we expect. Over the next seven days, you will try to focus on making one new social connection per day. It can be a small 5-minute act like sparking a conversation with someone on public transportation, asking a coworker about his/her day, or even chatting to the barista at a coffee shop. But you should also seek out more meaningful social connections, too. At least once this week, take a whole hour to connect with someone you care about— a friend who’s far away or a family member you haven’t talked to in a while. The key is that you must take the time needed to genuinely connect with another person.

Exercise

Research suggests that ~30 minutes a day of exercise can boost your mood in addition to making your body healthier. For the next week, you will spend each day getting your body moving with at least 30 minutes of exercise. Set aside a location and time (write it in your calendar!). Then hit the treadmill at the gym, do an online yoga class, or throw on some headphones and dance around your room to cheesy pop songs. This isn’t supposed to be a marathon-level of activity; it’s just to get your body moving a bit more than usual.

Sleep

One of the reasons we’re so unhappy in our modern lives is that we’re consistently sleep deprived. Research shows that sleep can improve your mood more than we often expect. For the next week, you must get at least seven hours of sleep for at least four nights of the next week. I know, I know. You’re super busy this week. There are deadlines to meet, friends to see, errands to run, etc. But sleep is going to make you feel better— both physically and mentally. So pick four nights this week, note them in your calendar, and get ready to get some much needed sleep. Also be sure to practice good sleep hygiene too— no devices before bed and try to avoid caffeine and alcohol on the days you’re getting your sleep on.

Meditate

Meditation is a practice of intentionally turning your attention away from distracting thoughts toward a single point of reference (e.g., the breath, bodily sensations, compassion, a specific thought, etc.). Research shows that meditation can have a number of positive benefits, including more positive moods, increased concentration, and more feelings of social connection. For the next week, you will spend each (at least) 10 minutes per day meditating. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed while you’re meditating. If you are new to meditation, you can try one of three guided meditations available on SoundCloud. And remember— meditation isn’t about the meditation itself; it’s about building a skill that we can use later. Lots of people find it hard at first, but stick with it and see if it allows you to feel a bit calmer over the course of the week.

For all of these exercises, you should find a way to track them – physical notebook, Notes smartphone app, daily planner, or the unpolished-but-free ReWi app (iOS, Android). By keeping track, you make it much more likely that you’ll maintain a streak and eventually make it a life-changing habit like eating healthier foods or regular exercise.

Also see:

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Are You Unknowingly a Time Billionaire?

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The 2021 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting is streaming live on Yahoo Finance this weekend, and I am reminded of a lesser known quote from Warren Buffett about what is truly valuable. I believe he has said this elsewhere, but I found it repeated in a 2020 commencement speech (YouTube link) at the University of Nebraska:

There is nobody I would rather be than a young person graduating from the University of Nebraska today. […] I would say this to the current year’s class: ‘I would love to trade places with any of them.’ They feel they’re going out into an uncertain world and all of that, but there’s never been a better time.

During a Tim Ferriss podcast, investor Graham Duncan discussed the concept of a “time billionaire” and how it is hard to understand the magnitude difference between a billion and a million.

Graham Duncan: I was listening to a guy introduced a speaker a while ago. And he was saying people don’t really understand the difference between billionaires and millionaires. He said a million seconds is like 11 days. A billion seconds is 31 years.

This means a 20-year old is technically a time multi-billionaire. If you’re in your 40s or even early 50s, the odds are likely that you still have a billion seconds left as well. Have you considered how valuable that is? One of the richest people in the world would gladly trade places with you. I’m betting that nearly anyone with a billion dollars would trade it for a billion more seconds.

This Pomp Letter article and Wealest article both expand upon this idea of appreciating the value of time, including how young people should use this time to their advantage. Don’t take for granted the ability to throw yourself at something nonstop. I think short periods of crazy 100-hours-a-week focus is underrated. Take your shot. If you fail, so what?

If you fail, you have nothing, which is the same position you’re in right now.

You have no mortgage to pay, no family to support, and nothing to lose.

This makes you powerful. Your upside is many times greater than your downside.

Also mentioned is the Life in Weeks calendar from WaitButWhy.

Time is a limited resource, and just like with money, you have to spend it wisely and consciously. Don’t waste it without intention. Look at how many hours we spend on consuming media, via Visual Capitalist.

Bottom line. We can look up to certain wealthy people for knowledge and wisdom, but there are other important resources beyond money. Yes, it’s a cliché, but it is still so easily forgotten in this busy, competitive, stressful world. Many of us are extraordinarily wealthy in time, wealthy in love and relationships, and/or wealthy with a healthy mind and body. Someone out there would pay billions of dollars for what you have. I must remind myself to appreciate my wealth in all forms, and use it intentionally. I worry about running of out money, but also running out of time.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Free Character Traits Test: Identify Your Signature Personality Strengths

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I’m now in Week 5 of the free Yale Happiness Course, which focuses on finding things that truly make you happy, as opposed to the 5 Surprising Things That Don’t Make You As Happy As You Think.

For example, instead of equating a “good job” with high income, you should redefine a good job as one that allows you to express many of your “signature personality strengths”. When regularly using their specific signature strengths in daily life, people reported higher levels or happiness and lower levels of depressive symptoms. In another study, being able to use your strengths at work resulted in higher productivity and job satisfaction.

In the early 2000s, something groundbreaking occurred in the social sciences: Scientists discovered a common language of 24 character strengths make up what’s best about our personality. Everyone possesses all 24 character strengths in different degrees, so each person has a truly unique character strengths profile. Each character strength falls under one of these six broad virtue categories, which are universal across cultures and nations.

How can you identify your signature personality strengths? The VIA Institute on Character offers a free Character Strengths Profile that takes about 10 minutes and will list your strengths from highest to lowest based on your self-assessment answers. Here are the six broad “core virtues” and the 24 character traits that they measure:

  • Wisdom: creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective
  • Courage: bravery, persistence, honesty, zest
  • Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
  • Justice: teamwork, fairness, leadership
  • Temperance: forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation
  • Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, spirituality

Everyone likes a nice graphic, so here’s one that adds a short explanation (source .zip file):

Character strengths are the core personality traits that define your unique identity and make you feel authentic, alive and engaged in life. Your free Character Strengths Profile below lists your strengths from highest to lowest based on the positive qualities that are strongest in you! Research shows learning about your strengths and how to express them can make you happier, less stressed, more productive at work and better connected to others. Interested in exploring the best parts of yourself? Check out our personalized, in-depth Total 24 or Top 5 Reports and use your strengths to build your best life.

Out of my top 5 character strengths, two were from Temperance, two were from Wisdom, and one was from Courage. The self-assessment does require you to be honest about your weaknesses, even if it may not feel great to admit them. I didn’t pay for a premium report, but I printed out the results and hopefully can incorporate them better in my daily life.

This activity reminds me of the #1 Thing People Regret The Most On Their Deathbeds:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

Happiness Illusions: 5 Surprising Things That Don’t Make You As Happy As You Think

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I’ve managed to reach Week 3 of the free Yale Happiness Course (it was 50/50 that I’d quit by now), and I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. I like to think that I’ve read most of these “happiness” tips, but there were several new bits that were new to me. The “rewirement” activities have also been helpful in improving my mood, albeit only temporarily for now. It’s almost like putting on “happiness” sunscreen, where the protection lasts for a few hours but tends to fade away. (Must reapply regularly via gratitude journal!)

As if in direct response to my curiosity regarding their Happiness Test Questions, this week addressed most of the missing question topics (I didn’t look ahead, promise!). Here are just a few selected examples from the course slideshow and video materials.

Money. If you ask someone making $40k a year what income they think would make them happy, they’ll say $60k a year. But if you ask someone making $60k a year what income they think would make them happy, they’ll say $100k a year. Ask someone making $100k a year what income they think would make them happy, they’ll say $250k a year.

This chart includes a few different ways to approximate “happiness”: having a positive affect, not being blue, and not being stressed. The charts all show that the overall trend is that higher income does make a difference at lower levels, but the effect mostly wears off as you get to higher incomes above roughly $75k in todays dollars.

Although this new study shows happiness increasing past $75k/year, the overall curve still behaves similarly – as your income grows the incremental increase in happiness from more become smaller and smaller.

Physical Beauty. A study showed that people who entered a weight-loss program and lost weight actually ended up more depressed than those that didn’t lose weight. In fact, every group tended to feel worse after finishing the program, possibly because they all had to focus on how unsatisfied they were with their weight.

Marriage. A study found that there was a temporary bump in happiness in the couple of years before getting married through a couple of years after getting married, but after that you pretty much return to your previous level of happiness. Marriage by itself doesn’t seem to keep you happy forever.

Awesome Stuff. If only my problems could be solved by clicking on “Add to Cart”.

Life Happens, or “Luck”. You find yourself permanently disabled from a car accident. You win the lottery. The book The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky looks at the research and makes the case that only 10% of your overall happiness is dictated by your life circumstances.

People do tend to have a “happiness thermostat”, but it is not everything:

Our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are, over and above the effects of our set points and the circumstances in which we find themselves. – Sonja Lyubomirsky

Bottom line. These things most likely will make you happier to some extent or at least temporarily, they just aren’t the final answer. Got a higher-paying job? Great, but you’ll probably want even better one very soon. If all you want is money, you’ll never have enough money. If all you want is physical beauty, you’ll never feel beautiful enough. If you think stuff will make you happy, you’ll never have enough stuff. How can we get to “enough”?

Another observation is that money/beauty/stuff/couplehood is easily displayed on social media, which pushes us even further way from “enough”. Someone on your feed will always appear to have more money, be more beautiful, own cooler stuff, or be in the perfect relationship. The truly important things are harder to show off. Being absorbed in your daily activities and being able to spend time on the things you find important. Loving others and feeling loved back. Feeling yourself to be valuable. Feeling grateful for what you already have. Feeling supported by your relationships.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.