Years ago, John Stossel and ABC News aired a fascinating program on happiness. Stossel exposed some of the myths about what it takes to make people happy and gave some specific steps that all of us can use.
Two of the myths involve money and leisure. Most people believe that if they had lots of money, they would be happy, but that simply does not prove to be true. For example, a year after a person wins a million-dollar lottery, he or she is less likely to be happy than an individual who was seriously injured and became a paraplegic.
Here's why: The lottery winner has trouble maintaining relationships, not necessarily through his fault, but his friends see him as being "different." Not only that, the million-dollar winner wants to win another million, and in most cases, the money is soon gone. The winner then looks back with regrets. The paraplegic, as he or she makes little steps of progress, develops an appreciation for the things they can still do instead of regretting what they cannot do.
One of the keys to happiness is the control you have over your life. Freedom on the job to use your own imagination and have a degree of control in your activities makes for a much happier worker. Even small babies demonstrate happiness when they are given a certain amount of freedom to move around and do some of the things babies enjoy doing. Permit them to move freely for a while and then take that freedom away and there will be an immediate dramatic change.
Concerning money, Stossel pointed out that people who live in dire poverty will be happier if they have enough money to provide for their very basic needs and don't have to worry about having enough to eat and something to wear and a place to sleep. After a certain point, additional money definitely does not contribute to happiness. See you over the top!
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