Meghan felt the wallop of the economic recession. She watched the income of her business dropping and the value of her investment portfolio shrinking. Anxiety made it difficult to sleep at night. She’d lost her joy in life.
With the help of a life coach Meghan came to recognize that, though she might be helpless to control the economic forces impacting her, she could change the way she viewed the situation. Meghan transformed her experience by identifying what truly makes her happy and focusing on those aspects of her life that provide genuine satisfaction.
What Creates True Satisfaction
True satisfaction is not based on what you earn and what you spend. Income correlates directly with happiness for those below the poverty level. Once your basic needs for food, clothing and shelter are met, however, increased material resources bear little relationship with personal satisfaction. The average income in the US rose steadily over the last fifty years while the level of people who rate themselves as happy has remained constant.
Here’s the good news: what creates genuine joy, pleasure and satisfaction are things that money cannot buy. Building positive, supportive relationships, developing yourself as a human being and giving to others are the true basis of well-being. These are things you can do, regardless of economic setbacks.
The love you give and receive provides true happiness. Enjoy the time you spend with your family and friends.
Do you have time on your hands due to slow-downs at work? Spend that time playing with your kids or interacting with your spouse or friends. Find things to do together that don’t cost money. Play games, go for walks in nature or explore low cost local resources such as museums.
Protect your relationships from any anger or upset you feel about your economic situation. Find outlets for your financial anxieties so they don’t color your interactions with the ones you love. Exercise actively, write your frustrations out in a journal or bang a stick hard against a tree. Allowing those negative feelings to influence your interactions with your loved ones will do nothing to improve your financial situation. It will only lead to unhappiness for everyone.
Share your concerns about reduced economic circumstances with your spouse. Talking openly about these problems dispels misunderstandings, opens up the possibility for mutual support and enables you to plan together how to best deal with the situation.
Meghan assumed that her husband, Jeff, felt critical of her reduced ability to bring needed income into the household. She avoided the topic of finances. Once they discussed the situation, however, she learned he felt much more supportive than she had imagined. Together they identified changes they could make in their life style to reduce the financial pressure.
Another true source of happiness is the good feeling of a job well done. This may be the accomplishment of achieving a desired goal or the simple satisfaction you derive from working on an activity you enjoy.
For years pressure at work had left Meghan too tired to cook at night. When eating out regularly became too costly, she rediscovered her passion for creating delicious meals and the enjoyment of entertaining friends at home.
Use your time to accomplish projects around the house. It costs nothing to eliminate the clutter in your home or office and you’ll feel great when it’s cleared out.
Follow through on your plans to exercise. Regular walking or running, yoga or Pilates will get you in shape and you can engage in these activities on your own with no expense. The endorphins created will provide a natural feeling of well-being.
Are there creative projects you have dreamed of but never had the time to pursue? Now is the time to begin writing or join a choir or glee club.
Meghan took up knitting and made scarves for everyone on her holiday gift list. She loved playing with colors and her family and friends valued gifts made especially for them.
Giving to Others
Research has demonstrated that acts of kindness provide lasting happiness for the giver. A group of people were asked to rate their level of happiness. Then half the group performed a small act of kindness for another person, while the other half did something fun. The happiness rating immediately improved for both groups after engaging in their respective activities. However, a week later the happiness rating for the group that had fun returned to the original level, while happiness remained elevated for those who had practiced an act of kindness.
Focusing on your misfortune creates a sense of helplessness and victimization. Helping others empowers you by turning your focus to something you can do that really makes a difference. Think of local organizations you’d like to support or go on line to find volunteer opportunities.
Meghan and Jeff volunteered at a food pantry in their community. The misfortune of those who depended on the service put their own financial problems in perspective and they gained satisfaction from doing work that truly benefited others.
While there may not be much you can do to influence the economy, you have enormous power over how the economic downturn impacts you. By focusing on the things in your life that create true happiness – giving and receiving love, personal development and helping others – you can make your good life better despite the economic challenges you may be facing.