5 Investments in Happiness
Your life is more than a gift.
It’s an opportunity.
Here are five investments in happiness that will have a profound effect on how you use this opportunity.
Of course, you have to apply them before they work.
Otherwise these investments are like paint.
And you must know that paint becomes color only when you put it on the wall.
If it stays in the can, it’s just paint.
Each of the 5 investments in happiness depends upon the following statement.
The above statement is the foundation for successful living.
Recognize that this applies both ways.
Good actions are investments. They lead to expanding richness in every aspect of life.
Bad actions are withdrawals. They lead to deepening poverty in every aspect of life.
By making small, consistent good investments, you can accumulate a fortune in happiness.
Why Wealth Matters
Wealth gives you more options and more control over your options.
It gives you the freedom to live on your terms.
It gives you the power to influence others.
Anyone can be wealthy because true wealth is a matter of having enough.
For example, a farmer living in a third world country could be more wealthy than an executive living in a luxury condo.
The farmer has a modest amount of savings, eats healthy meals, lives with the family, feels good about life, and sleeps well at night.
The executive is deep in debt, skips meals, seldom sees the family, has more enemies than friends, and drinks to fall asleep.
So wealth is not about having a large income or a prestigious job.
Wealth is a matter of having enough to live as an independent person who enjoys life.
And of course, this is an example created to show contrast. There are executives who live well, show compassion, and contribute to humanity.
✅ How to Invest in Wealth
1) Live within a realistic budget
The key to building wealth is: Spend less than you make. Then save the rest.
Plan your spending based on having Enough, instead of on having Everything.
Include a realistic savings plan in your budget.
When possible, buy durable, high quality necessities because these last longer.
Avoid buying luxuries because these sell at inflated prices.
2) Work with a professional financial planner
Choose this wisely.
Select an established professional who has demonstrated a history of success.
Avoid financial planners who have no experience or who are working to increase their income (instead of your income). And avoid planners who offer plans that seem too good to be true. These may be scams.
If you prefer to manage your own investments, consider investing in popular (proven) index funds. In that case, conduct extensive research before investing.
3) Avoid Debt
Some debt is unavoidable, such as a home mortgage or an auto loan.
Other forms of debt are terrible because they increase the cost of your purchases.
The worst form of debt is credit card debt. This can increase your costs by 25 to more than 30%.
Thus, buy things only when you can afford to pay for them.
And if you use credit cards, pay the entire bill each month.
Why People Matter
Every success depends upon other people.
You need relationships to obtain approvals, to receive support, and to feel connected with society.
In addition, studies have shown that having good relationships leads to living longer.
✅ How to Invest in People
1) Build a vast network of relationships
Build relationships by having conversations. Hold sincere, face-to-face conversations where you immerse yourself in exchanging ideas.
During these conversations:
a) Pay attention while the other person talks.
b) Let the other person be the star in your conversation.
c) Explore differences by asking questions and then listening to the answers.
d) Ask friendly questions that are designed to understand, explore, or expand.
e) Acknowledge achievements and feelings.
f) Accept others for who they are.
2) Build a foundation of trust
Trust grows from consistent good behavior.
Each encounter that you have with someone shows that person what to expect from you in the future.
If you are consistently positive, helpful, and kind, then people will trust you.
If however, you are negative, hostile, or mean, people will avoid you.
Let’s recognize that life contains disappointments. Accept each of them as a test of your character. Then explore options, including what might you might have done to cause the disappointment.
3) Build a legacy of kindness
Kindness comes from compassion.
So treat others the way they (and you) would want to be treated.
Strive to be the most emotionally mature person in every situation.
Recognize that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. And – (This is very important) – there is always more to know about every situation.
Why You Matter
Your effectiveness depends upon how well you care for every dimension of yourself.
✅ How to Invest in Yourself
1) Care for your mind
Your thoughts become your choices and your choices become your life.
So fill your mind with positive, uplifting, constructive thoughts.
This matters because your beliefs about yourself become your life.
For example, if you believe that you deserve to be successful, then you will act in ways that make you more successful.
Stay with positive people who like and support you. Spend your time with books, programs, and activities that nourish your mind.
Similarly, avoid negative people, media, and organizations that teach fear. These poison your mind and lure you into making bad choices.
2) Build your self esteem
Your self esteem gives you the confidence to work at your best.
Do this by making choices that lift your sense of who you are.
For example, when you practice kindness, you feel good about yourself.
When you make ethical choices, you feel safe.
When you behave well, you feel valuable.
People who do otherwise, live in fear that others will treat them the way that they behave.
3) Continue learning
Knowledge makes you more valuable at work and more successful in life.
Thus, read books, attend seminars, take courses, and join professional organizations.
4) Know yourself
You must know who you are.
Take the time to write your life mission, values, and long term goals. Then review and revise these periodically.
Make plans, which consist of actions that you can take to accomplish your goals.
Write in a journal. Use this to reflect on the big questions in your life.
Recognize that thinking is the process of asking yourself questions and then answering them. So ask yourself questions.
5) Care for your health
Your health determines how well you think, interact with others, and perform.
Thus, eat wisely, exercise, and get enough sleep.
For example, each meal is an investment in your physical well being. So eat healthy foods that nourish your body.
Certainly, avoid toxins such as cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. These ruin both your body and your self esteem.
For example, an autopsy technician once told me, “When we open a 40-year old smoker, we find an 80-year old person inside.”
6) Associate with successful people
You become the environment that you create for yourself, which includes the society that you choose to live in.
So spend time with people who have achieved what you hope to achieve some day.
Study what they do and how they live. Ask for their advice. And then apply those ideas that help you the most.
Why Your Career Matters
Your career determines the world that you live in.
Recognize that you are responsible for your career, which means you can make changes at any time.
Imagine that you are working as an independent contractor, even if you work as an employee.
So think like an entrepreneur, which means that you accept responsibility for everything. This includes choosing your assignments, marketing your value, and improving your performance.
Of course, the key is to be logical, deliberate, and appropriate.
✅ How to Invest in Your Career
1) Excel where you are
Regardless of your current job, make the most of it while you are there. That is, even if you hate your job, do your best to be a valued employee.
If you want to change jobs, use your current job to learn skills and gain a good reputation.
2) Plan what you want
Write out a business plan for your career. This would include answers to:
a) What are your goals?
b) What actions can you take to achieve these goals?
Note that plans consist of realistic actions that you will take to make progress to achieve goals.
Resource: See my business plan here: Business Plan. It provides a sample plus definitions that will help you prepare your plan.
3) Ask for help
If appropriate, consult a career coach. These professionals can help you select a career and plan ways to obtain it.
Why your legacy matters.
Your legacy is measured by how: 1) You feel about yourself, and 2) Others feel about you.
✅ How to Invest in your Legacy
1) Recognize that each day is an investment in your legacy.
So the guiding question for each day is: “What can I do so that I’ll feel pleased with who I am?”
Use each day to live an ethical, positive, respectful life. Be productive in useful endeavors.
2) Make tough choices.
Specifically, make choices based on being honest, kind, and respectful.
Often the most difficult choices are: a) Deciding to take the first step toward a goal, b) Asking for help, c) Taking the time to analyze a result (i.e., disappointment), and d) Confronting your fears.
The next step is up to you.
I encourage you to find ideas in this article that fit your style. Start with easy actions, and then add others as you make progress.
By the way, did you notice that each of these investments involves making choices.
That’s because your life becomes the sum of the choices that you make.
Here’s more info on how to build relationships: