What is the role of wealth in creating happiness? Can money make you happy?

It has been said that “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” This very statement has been the basis of great debate across society for ages and the topic for which I have felt important to comment about today.

What is the role of wealth in creating happiness? By successfully achieving financial wealth, there is absolute peace of mind knowing that you have achieved financial security. This security reduces the worry of everyday life and allows you to focus on other goals whether educational, spiritual, emotional or physical goals. The argument could be further made that although wealth alone cannot make you happy, not having worry about financial security is indeed a much happier way to live.

Can money make you happy? For the short term, money can make any person happy. However, the simple pursuit for financial gain is a short term sense of happiness and not necessarily a long lasting state of mind.

As written in the opening paragraph of this document, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” I believe that is a true statement. However, it is what you do with your wealth that will ultimately determine the level of happiness in your life.

In a speech written and delivered by Hugh B. Brown during an address to BYU College students in 1969, he said, “The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart, this you will build your life by, this you will become.” Such an impactful statement by Brown that teaches us that a vision which begins our mind will ultimately be what we become.
Those who would argue that money doesn’t buy happiness would be correct. The happiness comes from having financial resources sufficient to fund the desires of your heart. A person who desires to help the homeless can do so much more if they have sufficient funds. A person who desires to reduce the number of children who go to bed hungry will be able to feed more children if they have a sufficient supply of money.

What matters most is what is in your heart. If you desire to do good, then financial wealth becomes the vehicle to obtain those goals. If you desire to finance your own selfish wants, then a time will come in your life where money alone would not bring you that happiness. There will never be enough money in the world to help you be happy if you lack a purpose filled life.

Ultimately, the decision to be happy is up to you; Let financial wealth be the vehicle to fund those goals that you have. Do not let the pursuit of money be your driving force, because the pursuit alone is not the prize. Let your passion to serve others and achieve specific goals. In that, there is joy. In that, money can finance your happiness.

Looking Forward With Hope & Optimism

20132014beachSir James Dyson once said, “Often, just around the corner is where the solution will happen.”  Ringing in a new year is an opportunity for each of us to evaluate our individual successes or disappointments from the year behind us and also look forward with a renewed commitment for our goals in the year ahead.   

As we look forward to 2014 with both hope & optimism, may each of us achieve success as we strive to accomplish our most important personal & professional goals. 

Believe & Achieve!

Personal & Professional Mission Statements

Two weeks ago I was attending a course at the University of Georgia when our instructor lead us into a most interesting conversation about “a mission statement”. This writing exercise wasn’t about a corporate statement, but rather a life statement that embodied both our professional & personal life. In many cases, the collective “we” keep those two areas of our lives separate and work to find balance between the two. Yet, as I was challenged to create a statement that merged these two lives together, I wanted to envelop my desire to succeed as a working professional, an avid believer in volunteerism and a family man. The result of that effort is what has now become my personal & professional mission statement.

Personal & Professional Mission Statement –

“I intend to help others by fostering individual achievement, mentor organizational development to firms that I am passionate towards and provide coaching to those who have that desire to maximize their personal and professional development.

Living with the belief that I can achieve anything in life that I desire by first helping others achieve their goals will be the cornerstone of my work ethic and I will gain great satisfaction in knowing that I have helped others.

I intend to live a life of purpose… to be a great husband, father, son and friend to those in my life”.

What is your mission statement? Would you be willing to share it? I would love to post a collection of various personal & professional mission statements so those seeking inspiration might find this resource valuable.

So… What is your mission statement?

Volunteerism… its about giving back.

My earliest memory as a volunteer was when I was 8 years old living in Eureka, California.  Our church had a firework stand at the Payless Shopping Center and I was given an opportunity to serve as a cashier.  I remember how good it felt to count change and to work alongside so many adults raising money for the church youth activities.  Over the years, I have volunteered in one capacity or another whether selling Scout O Rama tickets for BSA, walking in the March of Dimes Walk for Humanity, or the many service projects our church youth organization held.  

Volunteerism has been a passion that has followed into my adult life and I find great personal satisfaction by taking time to give back.  As society recognizes the week of April 15th as National Volunteer Week, I have again paused to reflect on the number of projects and organizations I have supported in the past and currently support today.  One thing I know for sure is that there is no shortage of worthy programs to support.  Whether programs geared to help our youth, seniors, disabled veterans, or homeless, the list is quite extensive and the need is great.   Anyone can serve. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “Everyone can be great because anyone can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”  Spending time serving others has a dual benefit.  First, you give your time freely to an organization that can use your talents.  The second benefit, which you will have to experience to believe is the feeling of humble gratitude you feel inside when you serve others.

Last weekend a dear friend was invited to attend a Spring Hog Hunt organized by the Halo Wounded Warrior Program in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area.  She had never attended such an event, but once there jumped right in as a volunteer helping wherever she could.  First task was helping to serve these wounded heroes lunch.  Next she worked at the firing range running errands back and forth helping any way they needed.  During the course of the day, my friend was introduced to so many attendees and their stories and their no quit attitudes profoundly changed her.  She found these wounded warriors, our heroes, to be full of optimism and positive energy and she further told me that regardless of what was happening in her life that she had absolutely nothing to complain about.  Her life was touched by the example of these wounded warrior heroes.

As National Volunteer Week winds to a close, I ask the following question.  How do you give back and who do you volunteer your time to? 

May you find joy in providing volunteer service to others.

Do You have an “Identity” Crisis?

It was once said… “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Do you know what it is that you stand for? Are you on a path to best achieve your dreams or are you like many others who live life always wondering “what if?”

Stedman Graham, during an interview in December 2009 stated, “True leadership is about developing an identity for yourself, knowing who you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there, then developing a process for continuous improvement.” “However, 95% of people never learn this, casually falling in line as followers with a deeply hidden desire to create relevance and take ownership of their lives.”

As I look around and see all the employees, workers, or subordinates who are struggling to hold onto their jobs, I cannot help but to agree with Mr. Graham that far too many of us spend our lives working to sustain a standard of living, not achieving to create relevance and take ownership of our own lives. I remember the feeling when I was working for a Fortune 500 company and received word that I was part of a “corporate downsizing”. The feeling of loss, the lack of control over my financial life, and the sense of rejection was a feeling that I have never forgotten. Have you ever experienced that stark sense of fear associated with losing a job? Were you like me and vowed to never be placed in a position like that again?

I cannot begin to number the amount of ideas I have had over the years but failed to get past the idea stage. Possibly I lacked the vision to formulate a proper plan of action, maybe my ideas didn’t have merit, but in the end I find that I feel better when I dream. Especially with the uncertainty of being an employee, I have found it important to always keep the entrepreneur dream alive and look for an opportunity that would afford me financial flexibility, security, and a sense of relevant purpose.

I have been counseling a friend through career choices and self assessment, reviewing where they are and what goals they wish to set for themselves. Although they have a career that provides a standard of living, they feel as though they have no quality of life. We have spent the last few weeks outlining the list of things that they would like to do that would help to provide that relevance they seek. The next step will be to identify that one dream, that one desire that stands out above all others, and help to create a plan to help them turn that dream into actual reality.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask… act! Action will delineate and define you.” I truly hope that each of us will not only dare to dream, but also to act and help create a life of relevance and joy.

“It’s What You Do That Matters”…

Success or failure, advancement or setback, security or fear, fulfillment or deep void, are all a result of decisions we make, the course of action we set for ourselves, the path we ultimately choose to take.

As I get older, and hopefully a bit wiser, I better understand that where I am right now in my life is largely due to decisions that I made five, ten or even twenty years ago.   I further understand that most setbacks and failures in my life were self-imposed and with few exceptions were a result based on a decision made some time earlier in my life.  And for those successes I have enjoyed, the same rule applies giving myself at least partial credit for good choices made at some earlier point in life.  So, as I consider that fact, I have to ask myself this, “Why do some people always find themselves unhappy, unfulfilled or always struggling to get ahead?” 

On June 26,  2011 I was attending an event in Savannah, Georgia.  The keynote speaker was a man who I knew little about, yet he made a statement that helped to provide clarity to the question I had been seeking my answer for.   Andy Andrews, an author, speaker and trusted advisor, offered the following comment, “It’s not what you say… it’s what you do that matters.” 

With a desire to fully embrace those simple words, I stepped up my reading about personal improvement, leadership and studied success stories of individuals who had accomplished remarkable things.  During my reading, there was always one personal trait that was constant.  Every person who is successful (and might I say define success however you desire) was a “doer”.  That’s right, it’s what you do that matters. 

I have worked to put that principle of being a “doer” into action with my life and have shared this principle with a few friends and share it now with you.  Ask yourself this… are you happy with your career choice?  Do you complain about all of the problems at work or complain about your personal situation?   Have you simply carried these feelings of uneasiness or unhappiness inside you or have you made a change?   If you dislike your employer, have you searched for a new job?  If your relationship with someone important to you is not going well, do you sit there and silently complain or are you seeking to make that relationship better?  Remember, it’s what you do that matters.

Whether in business or your personal life, remember that where you are today is based on decisions made some time earlier in your life.   Where you will be in five years is based on decisions you make today.  Become a leader of your own life, your own destiny and don’t be afraid to make a positive change.  It’s not what you say, but what you do that matters. 

The Birthday present ….

This weekend was a special weekend at our house.  My eldest son was turning 10 years old and like every other birthday, we spent the weekend busy with special activities for the birthday boy and his best friend.  So, this Saturday was bowling, lunch at the local pizza parlor and then attending the Shriners Circus.   What surprised me was how that night I would see such wonderful examples of compassion, friendship and patriotism from my two little men.

At the circus, the Shriners began the event with a marching band, introduction of the local troop of Clowns and then a local dignitary was invited to lead the auditorium of 4000 people with the Pledge of Allegiance.  I was so proud of my first grader as he stood tall with his hand over his heart reciting the pledge in a clear, loud voice.  Having never heard him do this before, I was immediately struck with such humility and pride as I watched the example of a six year old showing such patriotism.  I looked around at the sea of adults, many still wearing hats, talking with others, and generally uninterested in this ceremony.  But not my first grader, he was proud that he could recite such an important message without help from others.

Later during the intermission, the Shriners held a drawing for two new bicycles.  I had entered my sons into the drawing and to my surprise, my fourth grader was announced as a winner… what a fabulous birthday gift!  After having his picture taken with the organizers and while on the way back to our seats, my son looked up and asked if he could give his bicycle that he had received from Santa last Christmas to his friend who didn’t have a bicycle of his own.  Again, I was humbled and proud that my son would show such compassion for a friend.

Life comes at us fast and amidst all we have to do to push ahead, I do the best I can to teach my sons good values, character and the importance of being a good person.  The most important gift this birthday weekend was not the new bicycle or even the parade of presents from family, but was the gift given to me by my two sons and I am forever grateful for their examples.