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How to live happily ever after
Zankhana Shah, Moneycontrol.com | May 31, 2006
We must learn to concentrate on what we can do, rather than what we can gain from doing something. That's the secret to a happy life, says Zankhana Shah.
Happiness must be permanent Happiness, as spiritual gurus often repeat, is a state of being where we feel inner peace and a sense of satisfaction while working with our family, friends or any occupation. So really, money is an outside influence to our state of happiness.
If we look at the poor, more money can indeed mean greater happiness as it affects their well being. But that doesn't apply to those who have already attained a certain level of material security. For them, money is simply an addition to already existing wealth and hence the utility derived from the addition is less pronounced.
The chase for making money indeed gives us a thrill, which we interpret as happiness. But if we pay close attention we find that this is only temporary. We are happy minutes after achieving money, but that happiness wanes away while we find ourselves still left in the rut of the chase.
Look at what happened to the Ambanis and Mafatlals. The root cause of their problem could have been money or power or the clash caused by a difference in personality, but the fact remains that having so much wealth did not achieve an end.
To be happy still requires understanding of your own self and of those around you and appreciating the differences. Family wealth itself did not give a solution to their problems. They had to find out the differences in their goals and the ways of achieving them to get a harmonious solution.
A tradeoff to this is a situation where a person suddenly comes into a lot of money, whether by way of an inheritance, or by winning a lottery, or perhaps even unfortunately from the death of a loved one, and is subsequently unsure of what to do with the sum of money.
People in such situations can feel guilt, grief, uncertainty; they may experience a feeling of unworthiness, all of which as we can see, do not lead to a feeling of happiness.
Find that permanent happiness So, if we love money so much, how come money doesn't love us?
The answer lies in the fact that we first need to identify and recognize what is important to us. Just as we always notice the things that make us upset or angry, we must now make an effort to notice the things that make us happy and appreciate them.
We need to take the time to stop in the rat race, and notice the smaller events that can make us happy, like playing with our children, taking up a sport, going for a trek to the nearby hills, which no amount of money in the world can replace.
Once we have done so, we must utilise our resources in conjunction with our own higher goals to strive for a better meaning in our lives and thereby, using our financial resources to attain greater happiness.
We must learn to concentrate on what we can do, rather than what we can gain from doing something. Eventually it is what we do that is in our control, while what we gain from it may be controlled by forces that are beyond our sphere of influence.
If we can recognise and adopt this shift, then more money will lead to greater happiness, and that's when we as human beings are truly rich.The author, Zankhana Shah, is a Certified Financial Planner.
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