When Rebecca’s brother, T (short for Theodore), was in his teens he decided he was going to be a millionaire by the time he was at 25. He left the east coast for California with long straggly hair and not much of a plan, just the mindset that he wanted to be wealthy. He tried his hand at photography, house-painting, race car driving, and even ballet.
While he was taking dance classes at the local community college, on a whim he decided to take a course in ground flight training and fell in love with flying. He became a pilot, then started his own flight school teaching others to do the same. He had found his passion. He set his sights on being an airline pilot, starting out with commuter planes where he met his wife, a fellow pilot. By the time he and she were 30, they were flying jet planes for major airlines.
T revised his aspirations to be more congruent with what his life-experience revealed to him, what he discovered really mattered: he wanted to fly and he wanted a partner in crime to share his passion. The young T had wanted to be “rich” just for the sake of being rich, because, like many of us, he believed that money would make him happier. And it does, in the short term–it certainly makes a difference when we are struggling financially. However, in the long run, even when we experience good fortune and windfalls, we usually return to our baseline of happiness-no more no less.
It can be useful to explore what we think more money will buy. Usually it’s “happiness” in some form or another. However, we often don’t examine more thoroughly what “happiness” means to us. Breaking that down for ourselves individually is where it gets interesting. Is it security, peace, connection, meaning, excitement, engagement, recognition, access, pleasure, comfort, etc.?
We often have our clients explore their ideas about happiness by taking some of the questionnaires they have available at the Authentic Happiness website–the questionnaires are free but you will have to set up a log-in to take them. For example, there is a questionnaire that looks at happiness and wellbeing in terms of our emotions, our health, and our sense of meaning, purpose, accomplishment, engagement, and connection (go to the PERMA questionnaire).
As per our commitment for the year, we provide you with another handout. This month’s is one of our favorites–a list of strategies for increasing wellbeing in the domains we outlined above (click here for that download).
Positively yours, Rebecca and Gioia
Take the PERMA questionnaire (just the PERMA, not the “PERMA meter”) at the Authentic Happiness website . Make a collage of what a happy and fulfilled life looks like to you. If you want, include images of things that increase your sense of happiness and wellbeing. Feel free to share it here our facebook page.