Success at Any Income
Living a meaningful life
(10 minute read)
Success: just ask the wealthy–money and fame doesn’t always equate to happiness or feeling successful. The reason is simple; if you’re not happy with yourself, and cannot appreciate the simple things in life, joy and purpose will escape you.
I know some people who have more than most. They have had money and access since birth, but they are miserable. They are nasty to others, selfish and bitter. Some have no people skills.
No matter what they have, it is never enough, and the road can become very lonely. They wonder why they can’t find love, or can’t seem to find happiness.
The truth is, we can’t escape ourselves, or wrap arms around fame or material possessions. Of course, we must have needs met and experience achievement—those are necessary in life. Achievement helps give life meaning.
As for happiness, it comes down to simple joys, and building a foundation of happiness for success.
According to a study by The American Psychological Association, it turns out the wealthy struggle with those concepts. Specifically, concerning their children and helping them live healthy, joyful and meaningful lives.
The study found that wealthy parents are concerned about their children being treated unkind by others, or stereotyped, since they were born into money. They also worry if their children will be truly loved by others; not just for their money, or what they can do for others.
“They worried that if their children have enough money and don’t have to worry about covering the mortgage, what will motivate them? How will they lead meaningful lives? This is where the money might get in the way and make things confusing, not necessarily better” (Novotney, 2012).
“Very few said they hoped their children made a lot of money, and not many said they were going to give all the money to charity and let their kids fend for themselves. They were, however, really interested in helping their children figure out how they could live a meaningful life” (Novotney, 2012).
“No one is saying, ‘Poor me, I have a lot of money.’ In fact, most of them are saying, ‘I love having a lot of money. But don’t get me wrong, there are some downsides'” (Novotney, 2012).
We can conclude that while the wealthy are having their needs met, they still struggle with leading purposeful lives. They have trouble teaching their children gratitude or appreciating what has been handed to them (without having had to work hard for it).
Gratitude and purpose are two crucial elements to success and joyful living.
Giving and Gratitude
Dr. Maya Angelou once shared the importance of being generous enough to make an effort to help people feel good.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
People who give are happier! It gets your mind off of yourself, and allows you to serve others who may be less fortunate than you.
You don’t need money to do this, but you may have the time to volunteer. You could lend a helping hand, or give a simple gesture to someone who is having a rough day, like a smile or a hug.
Did you know that giving releases oxytocin? It provides a feeling of happiness and joy, often referred to as the “love hormone” released by your brain. Talk about success!
There is more to this giving concept.
Elite Daily reporter John Haltiwanger says, “Generosity is, in part, a survival instinct. Even the simple act of sharing food or shelter with another person is an example of humanity’s intrinsic generosity. If we were an overwhelmingly selfish species, we would’ve gone extinct a long time ago” (2014).
Some people base happiness on external circumstances. Change that around. Try getting out and practicing gratitude.
Additionally, for those who like to write, a gratitude journal can also be very helpful. At any time during the day, write down what you appreciate at the moment. Then, review your entries at the end of the week or during challenging moments.
Counting your blessings helps re-frame your thoughts into a better direction—a more positive one. Being thankful is healthy, and once you get started, there is a momentum.
Even the smallest efforts to make this a habit can stick, and a good attitude can make life entirely better.
Being thankful will give you peace of mind. It is a useful tool for helping with depression. and helps with loneliness. Furthermore, numerous studies show that gratitude boosts the immune system. Don’t believe me? Check it out here
Happiness Amidst Adversity.
Injustice is a part of life. We need to accept that we can’t control everything in the world or in our lives.
Adapting to this is imperative to happiness and joy. It takes practice, but like anything else, you can be happy in negative circumstances.
According to Psychology Today, “Your ability to control your own mind is diminished by seeking to control others and the circumstances. Indeed, a critical element in developing mental control is a willingness to accept whatever outcomes you are dealt. If you cannot fully accept your outcomes–including, for example, the presence of a toxic boss, or poor health–you will not be able to interpret these outcomes in a positive light, and hence, you cannot be happy” (Dr. Raghunathan, 2011).
First lady Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “He who loses money, loses much; he who loses a friend, loses much more; he who loses faith, loses all.”
To conclude, as this year comes to a close, I welcome you to consider how you can shift your mindset around adversity. Practice more gratitude in your own life. Extend kindness and generosity to others.
Sometimes, when we are having our own battles and challenges in life, it can a beneficial time to reach out and help someone else.
Serving others helps us step out of our own troubles and gain a new perspective. It gives more purpose to our lives. It enhances feelings of achievement and success.
Since gratitude and purpose are two crucial elements to joy, cultivating these practices, no matter how small. It does wonders in improving our quality of life and puts us on the real track to success.
Peter Lanzillotta, Ph.D.
1. Novotney, Amy. (2012). Money Can’t Buy Happiness. The American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/money.aspx
2. Haltiwanger, John. (2014). The Science of Generosity: Why Giving Makes You So Happy. Elite Daily. https://www.elitedaily.com/life/science-generosity-feels-good-give/890500
3. Raghunathan, Raj. Ph.D. (2011). Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Happiness. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sapient-nature/201112/taking-personal-responsibility-your-happiness