Days of Happiness: Day Nineteen

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International Day of Happiness

Yup! Today is the #InternationalDayofHappiness !

Days of Happiness: Day Nineteen

The 30 days of Happy Thoughts series is inspired by the International Day of Happiness (March 20th, 2017).


There was such a huge turnout of responses for our Happiness celebrations.  We’ve got a HUGE mashup of Q&As from fellow bloggers and business owners today!   Twenty-eight Q&As today to be exact and so I split them into two posts because one post was just too big!  I want to again thank everyone for the many incredible and thoughtful answers that have been given.  Enjoy reading!



#HappyActs #MakeItHappy #ChooseHappiness

 

 

Day of Happiness Celebrations: Q&A | Part One


Q&A ONE | Early Retirement Now

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

A happy retirement, or a happy life in general, means that I have ample time to spend with my loved-ones, I’m healthy enough to enjoy that time and I have the financial resources to cover my basic living expenses and a good travel budget. So, for me, happiness is a function of three ingredients: Time, Health and Money. I have no qualm including money. After all, in the context of the Declaration of Independence 200+ years ago (Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness), happiness meant essentially prosperity. But to be sure I know of the limitations and the “Money doesn’t buy happiness” cliche. Most of the time folks with money are unhappy because of the lack of health or the lack of time with their loved-ones. Or worse, the lack of loved-ones!

 

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

One doesn’t rule out the other. Emotion is the more short-term version, while a happy state of mind is a more long-term version of happiness. But it’s mostly the the state of mind I’m after when pursuing early retirement. In fact, sometimes emotions are in the way of achieving early retirement, for example when wasting money on “stuff” that gives a short-term emotional boost, not unlike a sugar high, but mostly emptiness afterward.

 

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

My background is in economics and there we call it “Utility” rather than happiness. We got utility functions, not happiness functions, but the idea is the same. Of course, in economics it sometimes sounds like utility is purely based on materialistic ingredients: u(c) and c is consumption. But there is no reason why utility shouldn’t include health and time (=leisure) as well. I try to maximize happiness/utility subject to a sequence of budget constraints. In that sense, happiness/utility is not just important. It’s what life’s all about!

 

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

If we consider Money, Time, and Health the three main ingredients to happiness then for the average person going through his or her life there is always one element missing: When you’re young, you got health and time, but no money. When you’re middle-aged you got health and money but not enough time. When you’re old you got time and money but potentially failing health. One of the three is always missing. I currently feel the constraint of not having enough time with my family, and with family I mean not just my wife and daughter but also extended family. As a member of the FIRE community I try to square this circle by saving aggressively to build a nest egg large enough so that I can “buy” time – and have all three ingredients in my early to mid-40s.

 

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

Wealth and money alone will not make me happy, but the easy substitutability between money and time is worth a lot. With a large enough nest egg in my 40s I am able to chop off not years but decades from my working life and “buy back” my time. There was a great post by Physician on FIRE, on how money used to buy him stuff, now it buys him time – check it out!

 

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

As I indicated above, health is one of the three ingredients to a happy life and it is the hardest to replace or renew. It’s possible to make more money. It’s possible to “buy time” but “buying health” is much harder! In that sense, health and wellness have to be cherished and guarded and I try to stay healthy and fit. I hiked the Grand Canyon North Rim to South Rim last year without too much trouble (took me about ten hours for 24 miles) and I hope I will stay fit throughout my retirement years.

 

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

I would argue it’s a tie between my wedding day and the day my daughter was born.

 

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

My projected retirement date is early 2018. If there is another “International Day of Happiness” in March that year, I might even be able to retire on that day. Preparing for that change in lifestyle will be the plan for 2017. One issue I grapple with right now, is how much money is enough to buy myself out of the workforce? That’s another way of saying “What’s a safe withdrawal rate?” So, I have been doing a lot of research on that topic, see our series on safe withdrawal rate research.

 

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

Volunteering and charity work will certainly be a good part of my retirement. Currently, I give to charities and my church. It’s mostly money not so much time. Once I retire I will likely shift that balance and dedicate more of my time.

 

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

1: Be happy with what you have. When I got a pay raise, I kept my lifestyle (mostly) unchanged and saved the extra income. Over time there was undoubtedly some lifestyle inflation, going from graduate student to working in finance. Without ever feeling constrained or depraved or unhappy I accumulated a pretty generous nest egg. If I can do it everybody can.

2: Don’t stress out over market fluctuations. Especially if you’re still saving for retirement view a market dip as a buying opportunity. I made a lot of money with the equity purchases from 2001-2003 and 2008/9.

 

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

I found a lot of great blogs and articles. So many, in fact, that I feel guilty I can’t read them all and I can’t comment on all of them and I can’t write guest posts on all of them. I don’t have enough time right now (but I might once I’m retired). If I mention only three of them it wouldn’t feel right leaving out the others. If your readers want to find three great blogs then do this:

First, click on the blogroll of one of your favorite blogs and check out one new site.

Second, go through the comments section and explore the blog of one of the commenters.

Third, go to the new RockstarFinance blog directory and check out one new random blog.

At least one of them, probably all three of them will be awesome!

 

What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

I blog at EarlyRetirementNow.com. My motto is “You can’t afford not to retire early”


Q&A TWO | Abovare

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Philosophically, happiness, to me, is finding balance. Happiness is the right balance between easy and hard, fast and slow, struggle and calm, and cheap and expensive. Too much of something, no matter how good it seems on the surface, always leaves me numb.

 

More concretely, and from a personal point of view, happiness is a whole day spent with my spouse doing nothing in particular, and celebrating Christmas Eve with my entire family. And happiness is hours spent traversing the forests or mountains on cross-country skis, and it is an evening spent in a cabin, playing cards with my closest friends. And happiness is discovering or rediscovering an incredible record. More than anything else, happiness is the moments I get to share with the people who mean the most to me.

 

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

I believe that, just as some can run farther and quicker than others, some have a larger capacity for happiness than others. And I think that, just as we can train our stamina and our pace, we can work on improving our capacity for happiness. To answer the question, though, I suppose I would say that happiness is an emotion we need to be in the right state of mind to experience properly.

 

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

Yes, being happy is an essential part of life. But, as I alluded to in my answer to the first question, it is all about balance. Sadness, sorrow and misery are, just as much as happiness is, feelings we also need to experience to grow as human beings. And, I would argue, the conflicting emotions are integral for us to derive joy from our happy moments. A flat line is just a flat line, no matter how high up on the emotional register it appears.

 

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

Myself, and my mindset. I have yet to encounter something standing between me and happiness that I don’t have the power to remove by adapting my mindset. I think that is true for most people who have been as lucky as me and had all their primary needs covered throughout their lives.

 

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

Honestly, not very important. Wealth is about freedom of choice and security for my family and me, but happiness should come before that. As long as one can cover their primary needs, I think that is the point you start to design your life in a way that maximises your happiness, and then you start focusing on accumulating money and building wealth. In practice, though, I think discovering one often leads to the other.

 

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Mental illnesses directly impede your capacity to experience joy and happiness, so mental wellness is vital. Physical health restrictions I think you can overcome regarding letting them restrict your happiness, but I have immense respect for those who manage to stay positive in the face of severe health issues. I’m not certain I’d have the strength to emulate them if it were me.

 

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

I could list a hundred different moments that were pure happiness, but not for the life of me would I be able to rank them in any meaningful way.

 

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

Yes, I do have goals for the year. Firstly, all research I’ve come across points to physical activity as an important factor for happiness, so I have set some goals to try and improve my physical shape further. Among others, I want to run a 10K in less than 40 minutes, and I want to try and log at least 120 workout sessions throughout the year.

 

Secondly, I have found that one of the best ways to keep expanding my mind and keeping it somewhat focused, is by reading books. Sure, I love reading articles online and whatnot, but reading a book from cover to cover requires a level of attention and effort that is becoming sparse in today’s world of endless quick stimuli. So I have set a goal of reading more books than I did in 2016.

 

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

Empowering change and growth in others is always a great feeling, and one that I hope to make a much bigger part of my life in the years to come. Sending money to charity without any personal engagement means little to me, however.

 

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

Challenge the societal norms and assumptions most people take for granted, and examine whether they hold true for you and align with your values before centring your life around them. And don’t ever compare yourself to others. “Comparison is the death of joy,” Mark Twain said, and those word ring as true as ever now, more than a century later.

 

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

My first recommendation is the website WaitButWhy (http://waitbutwhy.com) because Tim Urban sees the world and writes about it in a way that makes me think. And we could all do with a bit more thinking.

 

Next, I’m going to do something as unorthodox as to recommend not only a book that is not only fiction but fantasy, no less. And, when I recommend a Neil Gaiman book, it’s not even American Gods! My recommendation is the book The Ocean and the End of the Lane because it resonated with something deep inside me, tackling themes such as reconciling with the past and trying to find peace. My overall point is that everyone should read a bit of fiction now and then, because it helps us reflect and indulge in introspection in a way that the facts of non-fiction never will.

 

My last recommendation is the poem The Road Not Taken (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/resources/learning/core-poems/detail/44272), by Robert Frost. It is only four stanzas or twenty lines long, yet it tackles themes such as life and mortality, contemplation, regret, and, of course, happiness.

 

What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

My website is Abovare (https://abovare.com/), and it centers around personal finance, but I also sway into adjacent topics, such as lifestyle and motivation.



Q&A THREE | Dollar Habits

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Happiness is definitely subjective and is open to individual interpretation. Different strokes for different folks. For me, I equate happiness with enjoyment and contentment. Happiness is the ability to thoroughly and completely enjoy family, friends and life in general. Contentment lends itself to happiness by making us feel grateful and appreciative for what we have and what we’ve been given. It’s certainly okay to want more out of life. I’m a driven person with Big Hairy Audacious Goals and I want more out of life for myself and my family, but I am also simultaneously content with where I am. Two things I do not equate with happiness are material possessions and status. Attempting to derive happiness from these things is a fool’s errand, in my opinion and can lead to a host of problems, financial and otherwise.

 

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

I wholeheartedly believe happiness is, or at least should become, a state of mind. I will go one step further and say happiness is a choice. If we view happiness as a feeling or emotion, we can set ourselves up for failure in our pursuit. Feelings come and go and emotions can be temporary. I’ve learned to view happiness as a conscious choice. I choose happiness as my default state of mind. If something happens that encroaches on my happiness, I just have to change the programming back to the default setting. As much as I’d like to believe I am in control of my emotions, I know I have more control over the choices I make. Regardless of my feelings or emotions, which naturally ebb and flow, I try to always make a conscious choice to be happy.

 

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

Does a bear poop in the woods? What fun is life if we are not happy? For me, happiness is of utmost importance and is a primary goal in my life. We only get one chance at life and I don’t want to waste it being unhappy. I am now, more than ever, focusing on the things that make me happy or will make me happy in the future.

 

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

At times, we can be our own worst enemies and I am no exception. For me, a fundamental barrier to happiness is not being present in the here and now and not living enough in the current moment. What do I mean by this? I am guilty of spending far too much time and mental energy focused on the past (that which I cannot change) or the future (that which may be out of my control and may never materialize). The shoulda, coulda, wouldas, if you will. There are so many things about my past and past decisions I would change that I often let regret creep in. One of the best ways to curb regret is to focus on the present. This ginger turmeric tea I’m drinking is delicious. It’s a really beautiful day outside today. My mama always tells me to stop and smell the roses. So, there you have it, one of my primary (self-inflicted) barriers to happiness. Acceptance is the first step, right? I’m making a conscious effort to be better at this and it is one of my personal goals for 2017.

 

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

Wealth usually gets equated with money. To me, there are many ways one can be wealthy without possessing monetary wealth. I am incredibly wealthy already … as long as we are not talking about wealth as it relates to money.

Monetary wealth is important to me as well and is a goal I am pursuing. It is most important to me because of the freedom, options and security it can afford me, not because of the stuff I can buy with the money.

 

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Without our health, we have nothing. Health and wellness should be of utmost importance. What good is all the money in the world if you do not have your health (not to mention longevity) to enjoy it? Over the last several years, we have made great strides in adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle.

 

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

For this one, I will do what politicians do and quasi-answer the question. The top three happiest moments of my life were saying “I do” to my wife and hearing her say the same words to me and the births of my two children. These are defining moments in my life, all of which forever changed me for the better. Other happy moments worth mentioning include buying our first home and graduating with my MBA (two long-held personal goals). Thanks for prompting the walk down memory lane. I’m pretty darn happy now.

 

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

I do. The first is to focus on being more present in the moment, more mindful, if you will. As I mentioned earlier, this is something I struggle with. I want to spend more time focusing on the present, rather than the past or future. The second goal related to my overall pursuit of happiness is to land a remote position. Leaving my family for 10 to 11 hours a day and sitting in traffic do not contribute to my happiness, in fact, quite the contrary. The idea of working remotely, on an awesome team, doing cool stuff, while enjoying the many benefits of working from home really excites me. Working remotely is actually part of my plan on my way to reaching financial independence.

 

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

I definitely do and often dream about being in a financial position to give more. I also read something once that said “Charity begins at home.” This may be somewhat of an unpopular notion, but it really resonated with me. We are working hard to get our financial house in order to one day be in a position to give more and more freely. In the interim, we enjoy volunteering and giving of our time when we can. Also, a positive side benefit of being an aspiring minimalist and paring down the excess means we have lots to donate to those in need, which we regularly do. I’ve even got the receipts to prove it.

 

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?
  1. Keep things in perspective. Keeping things in perspective can contribute a great deal to overall happiness. For example, if I compare myself to Warren Buffet or Bill Gates (two of the world’s richest men) I will likely feel poor and maybe even sorry for myself. Contrast this with comparing myself to someone in a Third World country. I would likely feel grateful and appreciative for my current situation and thankful for the many opportunities I’ve been given by being born in the U.S. See the difference a little perspective makes?
  2. Don’t worry too much about what other people think. Blaze your own trail and let the haters hate. Usually, when people start hating on you it means you are doing something right, something different than the norm. Not caring too much what other people may think can be good for more reasons than just adding to overall happiness. Do what makes you happy (within the confines of law and ethics, of course). We only get one life to live, live it for you, not someone else. This is something I wish I had learned to do earlier on.

 

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

Oh, this is a hard one. There is so much incredible and helpful information out there. It’s hard to pare down my recommendations to only three. For the purposes of the topic at hand, I would say:

  1. zen habits (www.zenhabits.com) – zen habits is a blog written by Leo Babauta. This is an incredible resource for mindful living, focusing on what’s really important and eliminating the distractions.
  2. The Parable of the Businessman and the Fisherman (http://www.becomingminimalist.com/recognizing-happiness/) This is one of my all-time favorite parables. I used to want to be the businessman, now I just want to be the fisherman. The story does a great job of highlighting the importance of perspective. May you enjoy it as much as I do. (Note: I linked to Becoming Minimalist which is another recommendation of mine if you desire to learn to be happy with less. Consider it a bonus recommendation.)
  3. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. An oldie, but goodie. Change your thinking, change your life. Nuff said.
What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

I am just starting out on my blogging journey with Dollar Habits (www.dollarhabits.com). Dollar Habits is a personal finance blog for anyone who wants to get a better handle on managing their money. Topics are slated to include ideas and strategies for getting out of debt, saving money and making more money, to name but a few. I will also be sharing personal experiences, lessons learned and mistakes I’ve made along the way. Everyone is welcome to join the growing Dollar Habits community.



Q&A FOUR | Get Rich Quick’ish

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Sheesh, nothing like starting things off with an incredibly complex question!  As bad as it sounds, I’ve never really though about how I define happiness.

 

I know what happiness feels like.  I know the sources which provide me with the greatest amount of happiness, but how I define that is much harder to do.  So, without turning this answer into a 4,000 word essay, I’m going to say that being happy means being content (which, like ‘happy’, is also a very subjective word).

 

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

Happiness is a state of mind that greatly influences our emotions.

 

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

I believe that being happy is the purpose of life, so yes it’s absolutely important to me.

 

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

One thing that has kept me from being truly happy is the pursuit things that don’t bring lasting happiness.  People are terrible at predicting what is going to make them happy (a new car, a bigger home, fancy clothes, a new lover, etc.).  These things all bring a form of happiness that’s fleeting.

 

For example, when your once new car suddenly smells like stale fast food, has high mileage, just got is 7th ding, and you still owe thousands of dollars on it, it’s probably not the source of happiness for you that it once once (by this point, it might be negatively impacting your happiness).  You can also take a look at your closet for another example.  It’s probably full of clothes that at one time you just had to have, but now you don’t like to wear them any more.

 

Chasing things that don’t bring lasting happiness is, I believe, the greatest barrier to achieving true happiness in life.

 

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

Money and wealth are nothing more than tools that can help us achieve happiness.

 

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Unfortunately, for many of us, it’s only when we lack health and wellness that we realize what a great source of happiness our health really is.   “The first wealth is health,” and there’s nothing like losing your health, or having a loved one lose their health, to make you appreciate it.

 

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

It’s hard for me to rank the truly happy moments of my life, but they’re all directly tied to family events.  Getting married.  Having children.  Seeming my family achieve their goals – those are the happiest moments in my life.

 

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

I’m actually not a big goal setter, but right now I’m doing everything I can to achieve financial independence. I’m pursuing “FIRE” with such gusto right now not because it will bring me happiness, but because it will bring me time.   Once I’m financially independent I’ll be able to reclaim a HUGE amount of time and do with it whatever I wish (which is to spend more time creating great memories with my family).

 

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

Absolutely.  I try to be as charitable as I can (with money) but I’ve found that giving of my time makes me far happier than giving out a buck.  So, perhaps selfishly, I focus more on lending a helping hand wherever and whenever I can.

 

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

(1) Pursue those things than bring lasting happiness, not fleeting (or false) happiness

(2) Relentlessly eliminate the BS from your life and before long you’ll have a life that’s largely free of BS

 

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

Recently I’ve been recommending the book Stumbling on Happiness quite a bit.  It talks a lot about how we as humans aren’t great at knowing what will bring us happiness, but we’re excellent at identifying things that will make us unhappy.  It’s an interesting book that’s worth checking out at your local library or buying from your favorite bookstore.

 

A book that makes achieving FIRE much easier to understand and grasp would be “”The Simple Path to Wealth.”

 

A third recommendation would be “Your Money or Your Life”.

 

What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

I’m a GenX, married, father of four that got a late start to this crazy world of financial independence and am now trying to play catch up.  I blog over at Get Rich Quick’ish

All About Me

About what I’m doing to not only catch back up, but retire early!

My theme for 2017 is something I’m calling PI-FI (sounds like ‘pye-fye) – or personal independence through financial independence.  The underlying thought being that personal independence is greater than financial independence.  After all, what good is to be be rich, if you’re not happy and free?  I think that them ties in quite nicely with what you’re doing here!


Q&A FIVE | Married and Harried

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Happiness is having what we need to be happy in general, but in with the real understanding of what we personally need to be happy. It’s knowing what makes you personally happy, what makes the people you love happy, and doing those things.

Mike- I think one of the keys is understanding what really makes us happy, being honest with ourselves, and once we get it, being content to exist in that moment. A big part of it is also having the freedom to pursue what makes us happy.

 

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

Both. Short term I think it’s an emotion. When I eat a piece of cheesecake, I’m happy in the moment. But everyday happiness is a cultivated state of mind based on contentment.

 

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

It’s very important. It’s not necessary to be happy 100% of the time, and thinking that should be the case will actually make you miserable. We think being happy or making someone else happy is the end goal of everything. Why be miserable or spread misery?

 

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

Time. There are only 24 hours in the day, and our bodies require that we sleep for some of those hours. Right now, we’re almost always tired due to having four young children. Sleep deprivation leads to crankiness and impatience. Plus, there is a lot of general house upkeep and day to day work of keeping the kids alive and up to date with their school work and activities. We’re working to eliminate or optimize the not fun parts of our lives so we have more time for the things that we want to do.

 

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

It’s very important. Great sums of wealth aren’t important but having enough money to meet our needs is very important to our happiness. We have been able to live within our means and are slowly trying to build wealth. We’ll have to see if it makes us happier. I would expect that it’s not the wealth directly, but the freedom that can be provided that improves happiness.

Mike – I don’t like when people dismiss the importance of having money to happiness. If basic needs are not met, it is extremely important. The importance of money goes down as more is accumulated, but that’s because the basic needs and more are already met.

 

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Health and wellness are more important than wealth and money, although it can be hard to keep this prioritized when life gets hectic. We know that taking care of our health every day keeps us feeling good now and significantly reduces our risk of developing chronic conditions as we age. Those chronic problems would drain our happiness.

Mike – I certainly get in a worse mood as I miss workouts and if I’m not eating well. If I’m really busy at work and it coincides with family commitments, I get off my workout schedule. I notice a change in my overall mood every time.

 

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

It’s hard to pick just one, so we’ll say the day we were married and when each of our four kids were born.

 

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

We made goals to improve our finances, which will lead to more freedom, which will lead to more happiness.  Specific financial goals involve building up our blog and real estate investing. We also have general goals to improve our parenting, like being more patient, but that is hard to measure.

 

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

Yes. We feel good when we help others, but it’s also about helping them feel good. It’s also important to see that other people are living in a different situation and still can be content. This can be a worse financial situation, or something else going on in their lives that is difficult at the time. Increasing another person’s happiness should always increase our own.

 

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

The specifics of what makes each person happy are different, but it is always based on understanding oneself and being content once you get it. It doesn’t have to be static though. There is always room for growth and the pursuit of higher goals. What makes you happy at 7 years old is not the same as 17 or 37. But recognize when you have achieved something that you have been pursuing, and live in that moment.

 

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

Mike – I don’t recall anything that jumps out as a resource that would be part of cultivating happiness specifically. My recommendation would be to read a lot of different books and articles. You can only discover what makes you happy and what interests you by exposing yourself to a wide variety of topics. Make sure to read some fiction too. Last year, we were trying to get so much done on starting our blog and real estate investing (which has not happened yet), plus career development, that I was reading large amounts of non-fiction. This year, I’m purposefully reading more fiction. Discovering a new novel that I enjoy or a new author makes me happy.

Em- I saw a good documentary on Netflix called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. It really made me think about what I really need to make me happy.

A good quote on contentment “You can never get enough of the things you don’t need, because the things you don’t need can never satisfy”  – Marvin J. Ashton

 

What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

www.marriedandharried.com Our theme is family finances, time savings, and frugal living.


Q&A SIX | Our Money Account

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Mark: Happiness means contentment and satisfaction in life. Specifically, it means contentment and satisfaction through any circumstance that life can hit you with.

David: Happiness is joy in the midst of other circumstances.

 

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

Mark: It is certainly both. It can be an emotion when it is felt in good times and it is a state of mind when things are hard and happiness does not make sense. It’s in those moments, a deep sense of perspective can only bring you happiness.

David: It is a state of mind, having joy in the midst of pain, or enjoying the journey vs. just enjoying the goal. I find that when I am the most happy, is when I stop, and take time to enjoy what I am doing. Like instead of looking forward to going to the AP Reading in the US, and going back to see my friends in Michigan, stopping and being like “Wait – I’m in AFRICA, interacting with people I never would have if I wasn’t here!” And then enjoying the journey, that is when I feel much more happy. When I only look to the future, I don’t enjoy the present, and am not happy.

 

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

Mark: I’ve never thought about being “happy” to be important to me. It’s not something I have specifically pursued in life. My life has always been very blessed and very stable. The highs aren’t too high and the lows aren’t too low…until this past year (a story for another time). Certainly, I’ve always felt happy which is probably why I don’t think about it.

David: It is something that is important to me, as I feel that joy is what allows one to enjoy life (hence the word I guess, right?). Though, I find myself chasing the byproduct of joy, which is happiness, without taking the necessary time to self-reflect and process through my current and past experiences to allow me to truly appreciate the present.

 

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

Mark: I believe we all have this void in ourselves where we try to stuff it with temporary and menial things that can never fulfill it. There’s only one thing that can fill it…or more like one person. It’s just how we are wired.

David: I believe the fundamental barrier for me, is that I don’t take the necessary time for self reflection. I do not know how to “be still.” As an extrovert, it’s always about people, people, and more people. How can I be social and be filled in social gatherings, even when I’m at home, chatting with people online, catching up to e-mails etc. Thus, the fundamental barrier is to make time allot emotional energy towards introspection.

 

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

Mark: You know I’d love to say it isn’t. It was a big thought for me when I started our financial blog, Our Money Account.  I’d love to say that I’ve learned more than ever how to see money as a tool instead of my source of happiness. But sometimes, I find myself tricked into believing that money will solve a lot of issues in my life. So I guess what I’m saying is that money is tied to my happiness, but I don’t want it to be.

David: To me, wealth/money is often tied to my worth/value. This is something I’ve struggled with for so long. I really understood the “purchasing power” part of money when I was a child, as I grew up with a manufactured sense of scarcity that has driven my frugality ever since.

I believe now that wealth and money is obviously not the answer for happiness, however, experiences with friends and family are things that bring me joy, and thus bring me happiness, and the ability to do have these experiences requires money/wealth, so they are now tied in a different way.

 

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Mark: I think it’s very, very important although not essential.  Think terminal patients who find happiness in life. However, that’s not to say it can’t help. I’m sure there are studies that show that people who are active and healthy are generally happier, and there might even be biological reasons as to why being more healthy leads to more happiness.

David: For me, my health and wellness is tied into happiness in the way that the healthier I am (eg. When I work out, or eat better, weigh less, have a lower resting heart rate etc), supposedly, the longer and more fruitful my experiences will be with my friends and family, going on trips etc. and thus the greater my ability to partake in said experiences, which impacts the joy.

 

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

That’s a hard one. I can’t pick one so I’ll pick a recent one. Sitting on Northstar Mountain at Tahoe while huge snowflakes fell around me and being with my friends.

David: I can’t choose just one, but I’ll go with this one: When my best friend from college asked me to be his best man. Because I was such good friends with the couple, I was overjoyed for them, and was deeply honored to be asked to support them on one of their happiest days.

 

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

Mark: I was going to post two philosophical things I’ve been doing, but I’ve thought of two better ones more directly related to my happiness.

1). I want to watch more TV shows. This makes me happy because who doesn’t love watching TV, but also because I want to connect more with people and participate more in the culture.

2) Eating out more. Wait…did you hear that right? Yes, eating out more. I found that eating out with friends and trying new places is an experience that I really cherish.

David:

  • To commit to OMA as consistently as possible, (posting each Thursday), and to do that on top of teaching 3 preps here in Nigeria.
  • To eat better, and continue to exercise and get under 200 lbs, for the first time since college.

 

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

Mark: It is not right now…but it is on the horizon for me. Currently waiting for a training date to come back for a non-profit I want to do work with. It’s important to me because I am hoping it will shape my life’s purpose.  And giving to others is the fundamental way to find satisfaction in life, it’s this un-intuitive backwards thinking that I don’t even accomplish myself. I believe it, but I don’t do it.

David: I do, in part, because I used to give my time and money to a ministry that I used to volunteer with about four years. And it is this experience that has allowed me to recognize that being a part of other’s journey, and that my money is not my own, is the process of freeing me from the myth that “your worth is tied to your wealth.”

In a religious sense, I believe it is important to give, as the money is not my own.

 

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

Mark:

  • Only God can bring true satisfaction to us since we are created to be satisfied in him.
  • In today’s world of distractions and materialism, it is even more important to seek out a life purpose.

David:

  • Prioritize family and friends. I have found that I derive more utility when I share experiences with valued people in my life, than if I were to just have that experience alone (including good food, good ice cream, good movies, exciting trips, or just chillin).
  • Sleep is very important. It improves wellness, and enables you to better experience the world around you. Whenever I lack this, I am less happy, always.
If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

Mark:

David:

 

What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

David and I run the blog Our Money Account at www.OurMoneyAccount.com Our goal is to promote financial openness and vulnerability with those close to you that you trust in order live a balanced and healthy financial lifestyle. Both David and I started our careers being very open about our financial decisions and choices, and it has greatly benefited both of us. Without David, I would be lost in making my own financial decisions without any outside perspective so we both have seen the fruits of our financial vulnerability with each other. In a world where everyone is climbing over each other for financial success, our goal is point in the opposite direction: trust and openness lead to greater financial health than the money itself. We push this teaching through merely sharing openly about on our own lives as to show why financial vulnerability is so important.


Q&A SEVEN | Pursuit and Perspective

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

To me, happiness is the quality time I get to spend with those I love. Relationships mean everything to me. As long as I have my relationship with God and my relationships with my people, I am happy.

 

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

Definitely an emotion. There have been times when I have lacked happiness but I have still been filled with peace. It is okay to not always feel happy. I believe it is more important to feel peace about your life and the decisions you make than it is to feel happy all the time.

 

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

I would say that happiness is somewhat important to me. It is more important for me to feel safe showing those emotions. There were many years of my life where I felt guilty for feeling any kind of happiness because I didn’t want to be selfish. Our emotions are what show what is going on in our hearts. Being able to show and share happiness with others is necessary for the success of my relationships.

 

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

By far, anxiety has been my biggest barrier in life. It has hindered me from experiencing so many great things. I’ve spent the last few years working on breaking free from that fear and I have been able to enjoy life much more

 

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

I wouldn’t say that money is important to my happiness. I don’t have a lot of it right now and I am in a much happier place than when I had more money. I feel like true happiness has more to do with our experiences than what we have.

 

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

From what I have seen (even within my own family), those who eat whatever they want, are overweight, have an illness, or all of the above, are usually more unhappy with their lives. They can’t always experience life to the fullest because they don’t feel well physically. I am young and not overweight, but if I don’t eat right or be active enough, I feel unmotivated. Lack of motivation leads to not being productive. Then I end up being unhappy because I’m not accomplishing anything. So it is very important to stay healthy for your body and your mind!

 

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

I have two! Meeting my husband and truly submitting my life to God.

 

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would you share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

I am working on living my life in full communion with the Holy Spirit. Doing things on my own never gets anything done and I always have more peace when I give things over to God. I also want to push myself to get creative and come up with a business idea. My husband and I both have Business degrees so you’d think we would know what we are doing. But I have struggled to come up with a good business plan for something I will enjoy doing and that has been a goal of mine.

 

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

Yes! I’ve learned that giving out of pure love and compassion is the best thing you can do for anyone. It can be money, a service, or just a conversation. The bible says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The key word there is GAVE! He gave the ultimate sacrifice. I think we can afford to give of ourselves, too.

 

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?
  1. Stop looking at the natural circumstances of your life. Have faith that God will bring all things together for good even if it is difficult at times. He is a supernatural God and He is doing things beyond what you can see.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You’ll be surprised at what you are capable of doing!

 

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

I’ve read two books by Bill Johnson that have changed my life. They are Dreaming with God and God is Good. Together, these books have given me a stronger understanding of God’s purpose for my life. I now know that I can dream big and do great things for His glory that I will deeply enjoy!

I also have been impacted by the words of Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. He gives very basic but helpful lessons on interacting with the people around you and building relationships. Some people are thrown off by the title because it sounds a bit manipulative. But it is actually not that way at all if you are a kind and genuine person who wants to use the information to positively influence people. It is truly timeless in its effectiveness.

What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

https://pursuitandperspective.wordpress.com/


Q&A EIGHT | Saving with Spunk

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Happiness is having great relationships with my friends and family and having quality time to rest.

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

Happiness comes and goes. You can choose or reject it. I would say Joy is a state of mind. If you have joy it’s easier to choose happiness.

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

Very important. It’s not always necessary but I feel like it’s a sign of strength when someone can choose happiness even in tough situations.

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

Most of the time it’s me! Sometimes I’m grumpy for no reason.

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

Wealth is nice because it can ease a lot of stress that makes happiness hard to attain. Money also allows you to be generous and I think helping people is one of the happiest feelings. But money is never a necessity to be happy.

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Health and wellness allow you to love yourself, which is essential to being happy.

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

It sounds cliché but walking down the aisle on my wedding day is probably the happiest I’ve ever been. It was a perfect day and we waited what felt like forever.

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

I didn’t make any resolutions this year but I do have a goal of setting up a stream of passive income. I’m on my way to doing it!

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

Very much so. I think people helping people is the root of all happiness J

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

Love yourself and live to make others love themselves better!

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, ThePennyHoarder.com, and that’s all I can think of right now.

What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

Saving with Spunk, www.savingwithspunk.com, is a personal finance website for millennials who want to party with money.


Q&A NINE | Hoosier Financial Independence

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Happiness to me is when I am around other people that are truly happy as well.  Not happy because they are rich or happy because of their title in their company, but happy because they are truly enjoying life. It’s contagious, man!

 

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

I believe that happiness can be both an emotion and a state of mind. For example, happiness as an emotion can equate to when I visit my grandmother and she presents me with her strawberry pie that she learned to bake from her grandmother. I have loved that pie since I have been a child. I see it and I am like “hell yes! Pie!”

But, happiness in a state of mind is when I get to spend all afternoon with my grandmother helping her bake that strawberry pie. If I were to never have another strawberry pie again (I hope not), that would be fine.  I will always be able to remember the sights, smells, and fun I have during those afternoons with my grandmother.

I believe what separates the two, is that one is an instant feeling of the moment and the other is when you are fully immersed in happiness you can be in that state of mind anywhere.

 

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

Absolutely.  I spent many years falsely believing that I was truly happy buying stuff I did not need and trying to impress people I did not like.  That mindset led me down a path of bad decisions and worse outcomes.  Being truly happy is important because even though you can appear to fake it, to quote Dr. Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park, “life finds a way,’ it all eventually catches up to you.

With that being said, when you are truly happy, you know it. Everything goes well, even the bad times.  You know have the support system and mindset to overcome anything, no matter how to tough.

 

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

I believe a fundamental barrier to happiness in my life is self-doubt.  I have come a long way in being truly happy.  But, every so often that voice in my head whispers, “Are you sure you want to do that? You will just fail. Just quit now. It’s easy.”  However, I counter that barrier with the idea that if self-doubt is creeping up in my mind then I am truly expanding my comfort zones. In turn, I am expanding my life experiences and becoming a better and happier person.

 

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

Wealth and money are simply parts of toolset needed to obtain happiness. I do not have set number that I NEED to reach just tell people that I am worth a certain dollar amount. I do have certain monetary goals; however, those are just steps I need to take on the path to true happiness.  Plus, money buys me beer and you have to have that.

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

What good is all the money in the world if you are not well enough to enjoy it? I would rather be worth $10 and enjoy life with people I care about than being worth $10,000,000 and be unhealthy and alone (or worse yet, surrounded by people I did not like).

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

I would have to say the day that my youngest sister graduated college.  That was the day when my parents, who only graduated high school, could say that all three of their children graduated college.  I know it was truly important to them that we all were able to do so.  Just to see my parents so proud means a lot.

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would you share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?
  • I would like to expand my blog to more readers. I truly enjoy writing and interacting with so many people!
  • I hope to spend more time with some friends and family, that just due to various life events, everyone has not gotten together lately.

 

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

I do, very much so.  My parents raised us really well.  They always instilled in us the value of helping others.  We were a pretty fortunate middle-class family and growing up in small-town Indiana, you see a lot of poverty.  Some people never stand a chance, so I try to do my best to help out in any way I can. Sometimes that is in a big way such as dedicating a lot of time to a certain cause or sometimes it’s something small such as buying a meal or even just taking the time to talk to someone.

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

You are never in a big enough hurry to hold the door for someone else or say hi to a stranger. Take the time, smile, and be polite. Sometimes that is a highlight of someone’s day. It is a great way to spark up a conversation and learn something from someone else.

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

Fahrenheit 451 – In our world, digital is overtaking everything.  I am a lover of books and Ray Bradbury reminds us in 451 to look around our natural world every once in a while, and that “there’s dew on the grass in the morning and if you look up, there’s a man in the moon.”

The National Geographic article on “How Ugly Fruits and Vegetables Can Help Solve World Hunger.” It truly opened my eyes on how much food is wasted before it even gets to the table or grocery store.  It is an absolute must read.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/03/global-food-waste-statistics/

As for a website, I would have to say www.theminimalists.com.  I am partial to them. I stumbled upon Josh and Ryan’s website and they picked me up through a pretty dark time in my life.  Once you get to the core, minimalism is not about just getting rid of your excess items, but really digging down and pulling out what is important to you.  The minimalism concept, once you figure out, can be damn near applied to any aspect of life.

What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

Hoosier Financial Independence.  www.hoosierfi.com

To be honest, I am still working on my theme (I probably always will be).  But, I suppose I am just trying to speak to people about how my life growing up in the Midwest, the good and the bad and the ups and downs helped shape who I am today.  That no matter what, you can break any stereotype people label you.  Plus, I throw in a little humor and geekiness, because you can’t be serious all the time.

The “Independent Hoosier” is a 30-year-old child-at-heart.  He enjoys reading, writing, comic books, and personal finance…oh, and obviously his beautiful girlfriend and awesome dog. He also very much enjoys any beverage that ends in “beer.” He is a Hoosier, born and raised in that great flyover state you have barely heard of: Indiana.  He loves to travel and interact with anyone he can. Check out his blog, www.hoosierfi.com, and feel free if you are in Indiana (or wherever you both may be) to seek him out. He would love to grab a beer with you. Because good beer and good conversation make everyone happy, right?

 

In case you were wondering, the “Independent Hoosier” is not his real name, but a pseudonym. Come on, not even people from Indiana would name their child that.


Q&A TEN

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Happiness is freedom from suffering.

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

Happiness is an emotion, but it’s different than the negative emotions which come and go. Happiness is always there it’s just overlooked.

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

It’s the most important thing. If you’re not happy then what’s the point of anything?

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

The background static of thoughts and noise in the mind that sabotage mental calmness and peace.

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

It’s important, because it’s very hard to live without money. However, money doesn’t really provide happiness at all.. It’s just that the lack of it is a huge cause of unhappiness.

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Same as with money, but even more so..

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

It hasn’t happened yet.

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

1.    To meditate every day
2.    To not listen to worry and doubt.

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

It’s very important and it teaches you to not hold on to things (money, ideas, beliefs, etc.) too strongly. I think it’s very natural to be generous.. it’s only fear that causes you to try to hold on to something. No matter how much you have you can always give something.

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

1.    You have to become responsible for your success. It’s your beliefs and habits that have created the life you have. You have to be willing to break bad habits and forge good ones.
2.    Be courageous.. The most important things in life are the things that scare you the most. Walk in the direction of your fears.

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?

1.    Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda: A fantastic book by someone who brought Yoga to the west. It’s a one of a kind experience that can transform your life.
2.    Loving What Is by Byron Katie:  We have so many unconscious (and conscious) judgements, assumptions and beliefs. This book helps us to investigate how we are creating our own misery and suffering.
3.    The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy: The human mind is the most powerful object in the universe. We all need to learn how to use it.

 

-Anonymous


Q&A ELEVEN | My Family on a Budget

Happiness means different things to different people, what does Happiness mean to you?

Happiness is an emotion that serves to allow us to enjoy our circumstances from time to time. It is a feeling that you get when you are deeper into God’s love and are working His plan for your life. When we are doing what we have been created to do, it brings us a lot of happiness.

Do you believe happiness is an emotion or more of a state of mind?

I believe happiness is an emotion.

Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

Happiness is important to some degree. Sometimes I chase happiness down the wrong alleys though and can end up doing things I regret later. Happiness is most important when we are listening to what God has called us to do and join Him in His walk.

What do you consider a fundamental barrier to Happiness in your life?

A fundamental barrier to happiness in my life would be chasing the wrong things. I’ve wasted a lot of time chasing the wrong things because I thought that they would bring me happiness. I guess as I experience more, new things are starting to make me happier though.

How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?

Wealth can bring a degree of happiness, but only in how you use it. If you hoard it and make it an idol, you will never be happy with money. But if you use it to change lives and make a difference in your family tree, now you are creating a legacy. I think we all have a certain amount of happiness that money and wealth can bring, but beyond that amount, I believe that wealth and money is just a tool to help others.

How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Health and wellness aren’t necessary to happiness. Although, you are able to experience more as you are healthy and well, there are many people out there with conditions that plague them that are still able to live fulfilling lives full of happiness.

What has been the happiest moment in your life?

Wow, it’s hard to pick just one! The day I crossed the line of faith would have to be the most important. But the happiest would probably be the days that each of my daughters were born! There is so much joy around bringing a baby into this world and knowing that you are going to love this person fiercely!

Do you have any specific goals or resolutions for 2017?  If so, would your share your top two that directly relate to your own Pursuit of Happiness?

My top goals relating to my Pursuit of Happiness would have to be reading through the Bible in one Year. I think that training myself to attend to my relationship with God first will set the course for my entire day. One of my other goals is to lose twenty pounds by exercising more and tracking what I’m eating. My goal here is to be healthy enough that I’m able to stick around long term for my family to allow for me to take joy in their lives later on.

Do you consider giving to others or charity work an important part of your own Pursuit and why?

Giving is definitely part of my pursuit of happiness. I believe that giving and helping others reminds us that it’s not all about us and that other people matter. It forces us to take ourselves out of the center of the world and see the world for the people around us. Jesus was very smart to call us to give to others.

What 2 things have you learned in your own pursuit that you would like to share with others?

Give as much as you can, can be time or money, to help change the world. Value family over all else. They are going to be the only ones that will stick with you throughout this journey. Make time to cultivate the relationships, even if it means sacrifice on your end.

If you could recommend only three websites/books/articles to anyone reading this, what would they be, and why?
  1. Bible – This one book has the power to bring eternal life and salvation. There is so much wisdom and right thinking in here as well.
  2. Dave Ramsey’s The Legacy Journey – This is a biblical view on wealth building and an incredible look at how to model your life to impact and help others.
  3. Max Lucado’s You’ll Get Through This – A book helping us get through the hard things in life. It’s very insightful when you are going through a rough time of how to handle hard situations. A good resource to have in your toolbelt.
What is your blog/website address and theme (if you want to share) for 2017?

http://myfamilyonabudget.com

Theme for 2017 – Personal Finance Stories from Families Beating Debt and Building Wealth. This year I’m tracking our family’s net worth as well as my 2017 goals monthly as well.


 

Continue reading in PART TWO

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Days of Happiness: Day Nineteen”

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I’m really excited everyone wanted to participate in sharing their views on happiness. 🙂

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