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How Much is Enough?

November 19, 2012

How much money do you need to be happy?  Will a bigger house make you happier?  In our material world it seems we always want more…more money, more things, more vacations.   “Money can’t buy you love”, say the Beatles,  but how much money do you need to make to be happy?

We know that people who have a certain standard of living are happier than those  living in poverty. But how much is enough?

In an article in the NY times earlier this year, the authors, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, cite  Gallup data from a Princeton University study  that found  the benefits of having money in the US decreased once  income  reached $75,000.   When Norton and Dunn conducted their own research, they found   that people thought  their life satisfaction would double if their income doubled.   But instead they  found that what you did with your money plays a more important role that how much you earn.   If you  are inclined to buy more things for yourself with more money, you should instead   switch to using your money for more  experiences. This will enhance  your life satisfactionBut they also found that you are  even better served by buying less, and buying for others.  Underindulgence. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us take time to be grateful for what we have, not what we wish we had, that we think would make our lives better.  And this year, after the devastation experienced  by those living in the NE US by Hurricane Sandy, I am personally grateful that over the past 20 years  living in Atlanta, the worst I have experienced is 1.5 days without power several years ago. I cannot imagine what those who have been left homeless by Sandy are feeling.  I give to the Red Cross, but then  my life goes on.  But the victims of this horrible tragedy  continue to deal with homelessness, loss of  their communities, and total disruption to their lives. I am also grateful, as I suffer through the effects of bunion surgery, that it is bunion surgery and not cancer surgery.  I am thankful for a kitchen filled with  healthy and (not-so healthy) food, and neighbors who are such a big help to me, and will help even more as I have my second bunion surgery on the other foot this week.

I hope you can take some time this week to meditate on what truly makes you happy, and what changes you can make in your life to increase your life satisfaction.   Along with this, ask yourself, in what ways do you feel  grateful?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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