15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.


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Get Serious About Happiness

If your house catches fire, your wife leaves you, your business goes bankrupt and you are falsely condemned by the media as an unholy monster… there’s no point in compounding your problems by also being unhappy.

ImageOne of my favorite books of all time is Being Happy by Andrew Matthews. Why? Because every single person on Earth wants to be happy. When someone writes a book about being happy, it should be required reading for every human of every age.

The problem of happiness is that darn individuality. Every one of us has our own notions and conditions for what it takes to make us happy. Let’s address that issue right now.

Since we as individuals determine our own parameters of what exactly constitutes happiness, then happiness is just a construct of our own thoughts. Happiness exists in your mind. Ultimately, you choose whether or not you are happy. You. Right now. You choose.

No other person, no other circumstance, none of those notions and conditions that you think will bring you joy and happiness are truly requirements for joy and happiness. They are phantom requirements concocted from your imagination. In point of fact, they are what is keeping you unhappy.

If you say that some person, or some condition, or some law, or some disorder is why you are unhappy… that is wrong. It’s a lie.

Any prerequisite in your mind for your own happiness is what makes you unhappy.

Like Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Decide to be happy.

It’s okay to be ambitious, to strive, to want more. It’s okay to be discontent. But be happily discontent.

Be happily discontent with your current circumstances and you will have an easier time changing them for the better (you should totally tweet that, I know I will).

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A Good Happy New Year Question

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Many people put off their happiness until some future date or event or possession. I will be happy when I get married, when I get that promotion, when I finish this extra degree. I am all for setting future goals; for striving to achieve. But there is no reason that you can’t start on that happiness business today.

Your happiness is not dependent on circumstance, only your perception of those circumstances. Some other perfectly normal human being in your exact circumstances will be unhappy while you are deliriously happy. So since the determining factor isn’t the marriage, the promotion, or the doctorate; but the human brain as it thinks about those things… why not choose happy?

Contention: Your brain determines what will make you happy.
Conclusion: Tell your brain to be happy in your current circumstances.

But, I would like to throw in a few cautionary notes regarding this notion of being happy right now.

Choosing to be blissfully happy does not mean living only for today. You still should be mindful of your future. If you are living only to fulfill your immediate gratification today, your future self well be ticked off.

Choosing happiness also does not mean living selfishly. Making decisions that you feel are fulfilling your own happiness at the expense of other people is no way to live.

Often people confuse happiness with pleasure. Pleasure is short term. Happiness is long term. Short term pleasure often hinders your ability to live a happy life. Living just to fulfill your immediate appetite sabotages your future wellness.

I’m not saying that you are not allowed to have any fun in the pursuit of happiness either. You should have fun and pleasure and happiness throughout all your life. So since I seem to be saying a lot of contradictory things so far in this blog, is there some kind of rule or guideline you can use when trying to decide what I should do with my life today?

A good rule I use is this:
Will this make a difference in my life five years from now?

I don’t often get upset about things. If someone wrongs me, I ask myself if this will make a difference five years from now. The answer almost invariably is “no” so I just get on with my life and try not to think about it.

I try to live a life where I am perpetually in a state of learning and growing as a person. I enjoy reading personal development books, but sometimes I don’t feel like it. But I will still crack open a book and read a bit each day because what you feed your brain can definitely impact the person you are five years from now.

I should probably make a greater effort this year to apply this rule to my diet and exercise habits more often.

So to quickly summarize: Enjoy the moment. Have joy in your struggles of the day. But don’t only live for today. And don’t only live for yourself. Because you’ll tick off your family, your future self, and maybe your future family’s future.

Have a few good moments every day and you will have an amazing life.


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Money Does So Make You Happy

I know this might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s true. Those people who say that happiness comes from within are wrong. See, happiness comes from the same root word as the word “happenstance.” Happenstance by definition is a result of chance or fortunate circumstance. Therefore, happiness cannot possibly come from within, since it is based on outside circumstance.

I know, I know, it’s really just a semantic argument, but next time try saying that “joy” comes from within. Or contentment. Or beatitudes. That way you can avoid an argument and focus on explaining what beatitude means to your friend.

But back to the subject of money.

Most marriage arguments are over the subject of money (specifically a lack of money). Jesus talked about money more than any other subjects except the Kingdom of God. While its true that money alone is not the only ingredient to success, happiness, and personal fulfillment; It is an important part.

Not because the things that you buy with money necessarily bring you fulfillment. But because lack of money often causes you stress and discomfort and circumstances that detract from your fortunate feeling (unhappiness).

If you don’t have two dollars in your pocket at this moment and you walk by a hot dog cart while you are hungry, chances are that would make you slightly unhappy. Now, let’s say a millionaire is also at that same hot dog cart and that he happens to have no cash on hand. But he is so hungry, he offers to trade you his Porsche for two dollars to buy a hotdog. I think that you would be extremely unhappy that you don’t have two dollars in your pocket right at that moment.

Maybe it’s true what they mean (not what they say), that money doesn’t make you happy. But would it be fair to say that lack of money sometimes causes unhappiness? Or even that having money will eliminate many of the things in your life that cause unhappiness?

Most people have a poverty mindset when it comes to money. That acts as a barrier to acquiring it and keeping it. Here are some tips about money to help you acquire a prosperity mindset. These are all taken from a great book by Andrew Matthews called Being Happy.

1. Decide to be prosperous and put in the necessary effort.
2. Save first and spend what is left.
3. Observe wealthy people.
6. Spoil yourself occasionally.
9. Always carry some money – for three reasons.
10. Don’t blame your parents, the weather, the economy, the government, your job, your education or your mother-in-law for how you are doing.
12. Recognize that poverty is a mental disease.

“Almost half the list is missing!” I hear you cry. Actually, 99% of the book is missing, and I recommend you read it. (Mental note: Create a recommended reading page). (Mental note 2: Wrap up this blog post, Matt).

Of course, having a prosperity mindset doesn’t generate cash on it’s own, but it will keep your own brain from hindering your ability to get it.

How important is it to first have a prosperity mindset before acquiring wealth?