Choosing Happiness

Jonathan Clements  |  Sep 3, 2022

WE ALL WANT TO LEAD happier lives, but that’s no easy task. Our first stumbling block: Most of us aren’t even sure how to define happiness.
Fortunately, philosophers and psychologists have come to the rescue, suggesting that there are two different types of happiness. First up: hedonic happiness. Think of a wonderful party with delicious food, sparkling conversation and all your favorite people in attendance. There’s great momentary pleasure and—fingers crossed—scant pain involved.

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Getting to Happy

Adam M. Grossman  |  Jul 31, 2022

THE MEGA MILLIONS drawing on Friday was worth more than $1 billion. Would you be happy if you’d been the lucky winner?
Last week, I talked about the Vanderbilts. Once the wealthiest family in America, they saw their fortune dwindle because of aggressive spending. Back in the 1890s, for example, the family spent $7 million building the Breakers, a summer home in Newport, Rhode Island. That’s the equivalent of $220 million today. When it was completed,

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Nun Sense

Mike Drak  |  Jul 7, 2022

WHEN I WAS WORKING fulltime, my goal was to have enough retirement savings to replace 100% of my income. I knew I could live comfortably on that amount, while still having enough left over to do the things I didn’t have time for when I had a fulltime job. I figured that was the key to a happy retirement.
But after retiring, my thinking changed, as I began focusing on how I could live longer and better.

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Divide and Rule

Jonathan Clements  |  Jun 11, 2022

EACH OF US TAKES our monthly income and then makes countless decisions—some big, some small—about how to use those dollars. How can we get the most from the money that flows through our hands? I find it helpful to look at this “income allocation” through three prisms.
Divvying it up. We can use our income for three main purposes: spending it today, saving it for tomorrow or giving it to others. Our instinct is to spend today,

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Better Than Dollars

Kathleen M. Rehl  |  May 17, 2022

A FRIEND ASKED ME recently if I got paid for the writing I do. She assumed that I’d be compensated, especially for research articles published in scholarly journals.
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m paid generously—in psychic income.”
“What’s psychic income?” she asked.
I explained. “Instead of earning a paycheck for my paper, I earn the satisfaction of this well-respected periodical running my article.” That’s also the way it is for my short stories and poetry that appear in specialty publications.

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More Isn’t the Answer

John Lim  |  Apr 29, 2022

“ENOUGH” IS a powerful notion. Unfortunately, it’s largely absent from financial conversations.
The concept is rooted in deep self-awareness. It asks the question, how much do I really need to be happy? I believe we should ask this more often because, if we don’t, culture will fill in the blank—and the default answer will be “more.”
Enough has two dimensions. The first dimension is about spending. Too often, we succumb to the hedonic treadmill—the endless pursuit of the next thrilling purchase,

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Sick and Tired

Jonathan Clements  |  Apr 23, 2022

BETWEEN 1972 AND 2018, the percentage of Americans who described themselves as very happy ranged from 29% to 38%. The number for 2021 was recently released: Just 19% of us said we’re very happy—10 percentage points lower than any prior survey.
Our happiness, it seems, is another victim of the pandemic. Indeed, COVID-19 and the resulting social isolation has delivered a bigger blow to our collective happiness than 2008-09’s Great Recession, 2001’s terrorist attacks and countless other distressing events from the past half-century.

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Get to Choose

Richard Connor  |  Mar 15, 2022

AS A YOUNG ENGINEER at General Electric, I took a three-day class on career development. That class strongly influenced my thinking about my career—and my life. The class made use of a great little book by David P. Campbell called If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably Wind Up Somewhere Else.
The premise of the book is that life is a journey, not a destination. We should set some basic goals that help guide our journey,

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View From the Top

Tanvir Alam  |  Feb 21, 2022

THERE’S A GROUP of high-income earners who sit just below the billionaire business founders, the C-level suite set and the heiress crowd. Matthew Stewart, in his new book The 9.9 Percent, labels them the “new aristocracy.” Author Richard V. Reeves famously called them “dream hoarders” in his book of the same name.
By all objective criteria, this high-income crowd should be thrilled with their financial gains over the past three years.

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A Man Possessed

Jonathan Clements  |  Dec 25, 2021

IT’S NEVER GOOD to be self-indulgent, and that’s doubly true on a day like this. Still, while the rest of you relish the gifts that came your way this holiday season, let me offer a guided tour of my most prized possessions.
I now have a firm idea of what they are, thanks to a ruthless process of subtraction. I’ve spent the past four months throwing out and selling countless things I don’t greatly care about. 

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Thankful Tomorrow

Don Southworth  |  Nov 25, 2021

I RARELY PREACH these days—at least in front of congregations—but I still recall how hard it was, every Thanksgiving week, to come up with something new to say about gratitude.

The messages we hear and see this week will be fairly consistent: Buy more food and stuff. But also: Thanks be to God. Thanks for the life we enjoy.

Expressing gratitude is indeed good. Practice more of it in your life, and life will be sweeter.

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Pursuit of Happiness

Mike Drak  |  Oct 23, 2021

NOW THAT I’M RETIRED, I use two metrics whenever I’m faced with opportunities that require an investment of time or money.
First, there’s ROTI, or return on time invested. I use this metric to determine if something is worth my time. I want to invest the bulk of my time in things that’ll make me happy. Some examples of high-return time investments are:

Seeing family and friends
Going on new adventures
Making new friends
Starting a business
Learning something new
Going fishing


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Answering the Call

Don Southworth  |  May 31, 2021

ON NEW YEAR’S DAY 1994, life was looking pretty good. I was age 35 and, despite not having a college degree, was slowly climbing the corporate ladder. I’d just finished the most lucrative year of my career, and a semi-promotion promised to increase my income by 50% to 100%. My wife Kathleen was happily home-schooling our six- and 13-year-old boys, and we were thinking about buying a bigger house.

Then life happened.

On Jan.

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Unhappy Results

Jonathan Clements  |  Feb 6, 2021

HAPPINESS RESEARCH fascinates me—and I’m not alone. Many of the insights uncovered by economists and psychologists have caught on with the general public, influencing countless life decisions.
Do you favor experiences over possessions? Do you strive to keep your commute short? Do you pause occasionally to ponder the good things in your life? Whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely been influenced by happiness research.
But it turns out that there are two popular insights that we need to unlearn—because they haven’t held up to close scrutiny:

Have you heard that happiness caps out at an income of $75,000 a year?

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Saving Happiness

Jiab Wasserman  |  Nov 4, 2020

RESEARCHERS HAVE spent decades probing the connection between money and happiness. For instance, a much-cited 2010 study by academics Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that folks tend to feel happier the more money they make—but only up to a point, which they estimated to be about $75,000 a year.
But using only income to measure the link between money and happiness is incomplete. Another study, entitled “How Your Bank Balance Buys Happiness,” analyzed the connection to people’s “cash on hand.” The researchers found that having more money in checking and savings accounts was associated with higher levels of life satisfaction.

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