Days of Happiness: Day Twenty-One

Days of Happiness: Day Twenty-One

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

Today’s Motivational Video


Today’s Happy Thought


National Nutrition Month® Tidbits

March is also National Nutrition Month®! Eating healthy is important to your happiness too!

Check out this week’s game here.

Check out this week’s NNM video here.

Day of Happiness Celebrations: Q&A

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

Happiness for me has changed over the years as my needs have changed.  When I lost my job and my transportation, along with being injured and $10K in debt from a motorcycle accident on a birthday long ago, happiness was just in being alive.  Being on my birthday, it gave me yet another reason every year to pause and celebrate just the simple fact that I’m here, breathing, alive.  Nothing like cheating death to make you appreciate life.

But at a higher level, happiness for me comes from freedom and the main reason I am so focused on financial freedom.  Being financially independent gives you the ability to pursue what really matters to you.  And that is my definition of happy – free to do what I want when I want (within the usual societal constraints of course – few people are happy in prison!)


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

Both.  It took make many years to realize the power of the mind.  So while you can feel happy as an emotional reaction to what has happened to you, you can also instill a state of happiness from the outside in.

Don’t believe me?

Next time you’re angry, frustrated, or just full of any negative emotion you want to get rid of, just pause, recognize you’re not happy, and smile.  A big, ear to ear, goofy, fake because it’s forced, smile.

I know, it sounds stupid.  And it doesn’t make any sense.  But smiling is a physical act you do when you’re happy.  When you smile, it’s your emotion causing a physical response.  When you smile when you’re unhappy, you’re in effect triggering the same pathways in reverse.  Brain sits there thinking “Hmm, he’s smiling, he must be happy.  Ok, let’s be happy.”  I’m not saying it’s easy, but it works. Give it a try and surprise yourself.


Do you consider being happy important to you? Why?

Happiness is important in the sense that life is short, and as far as we know, we only get one pass, so we best make the most of it.

That said, I’m a firm believer in delayed gratification.  Saving for retirement, for example, so that I can have a safe, secure, enjoyable, and hopefully very long, retirement.  I’ve been poor, and poor is not fun.  It’s extremely hard to be happy when you’re worried where you next meal is coming from.

And let’s not forget about all the other emotions.  There can be no light without dark, and no happiness without sadness.  So I’ll take my emotional range, and enjoy my sadness when it comes, knowing it makes the happiness that much better.  With a little luck and hard work, I’ll spend more time on the happy end of the spectrum.


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

At the moment?  Extreme sleep deprivation from two babies in the house.  Fortunately, they bring their own happiness with them.

The largest barrier to happiness I’ve faced in the past have been my own expectations.  While I’m still ambitious in terms of what I want from my life, I’ve learned to focus more of my energy and attention on enjoying what I have, and less on trying to control and direct my life in a specific direction.  I still make progress on my goals, but ensure I’m not so focused on the destination that I fail to enjoy the trip.


How important is wealth and money to your own happiness?


Enwealthen is about achieving financial independence for a secure retirement.  Not an early retirement necessarily, but a secure one.  Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it certainly eliminates one of the primary causes of sadness.  You’re still responsible for finding your joy in life, but have you ever tried finding joy when you’re working 70 hours a week at two jobs, barely scraping by, and have 2 kids at home to feed?

Life is hard.  Money is the lubrication that makes the world, especially your personal world, move that much easier.  Make sure you invest the time required to master it, or it will master you.


How important is health and wellness to happiness?

Physical and mental health is of utmost importance when it comes to happiness.  Few things are as corrosive to your mental state than chronic illness, especially chronic pain.  Sadly, so much illness can be cured, or avoided, with the regular exercise and sunlight that so few people get.

Trust me, I know how hard it can be to find time to exercise with 2 small sons to care for.  Nevertheless, I make the time, because I know how much of a difference regular exercise makes to your mental and physical health.  Endorphins to help you feel good.  Physical weariness to help you get a solid night’s sleep every night.  Good blood sugar regulation to help avoid the crankiness that comes from lack of food.  And the joy of having a healthy body that responds willingly to whatever you ask of it.

The rewards of regular exercise are incalculable, and give you the health and happiness that makes life better all around.


What has been the happiest moment in your life?

I’ve been fortunate to have so many happy moments, it’s hard to pick just one.  My wedding, the births of my sons, the day I became debt-free after my accident, the first day of my summer-long round-the-world trip after college.

Most recently?  The first night since my youngest was born when I woke up, realizing everyone had been able to sleep all the way through the night – 10 months in the waiting!

There’s happiness to be found in any little thing.  Some days I’m just happy to be alive and breathing.  No reason necessary, just ponder all the events that had to happen in your lifetime, your parent’s lifetime, the planet’s lifetime, to make your life possible and see if it doesn’t help you appreciate how lucky you are to be where you are, doing what you’re doing.


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?

While I set goals, I try to avoid putting specific dates on them.  If there’s one thing raising babies has taught me, the first thing you have to let go of are your expectations.

That said, while I continue to exercise, the lack of sleep the last two years has devastated my waistline.  So my primary goal is to increase the intensity and frequency of my exercise routine, to improve my health to ensure I’ll be able to play with my sons for many years to come.


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

In the past, I’ve donated my time to literacy programs.  I’m a huge fan of reading, and the thought of children growing up illiterate, or even worse, adults struggling without the ability to read, is tragic.

At the moment, I’m still fairly internally focused on my new family, but will be instilling the importance of giving back to your community in them as they grow.


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

Stay healthy.  Eat appropriately.  Exercise regularly.  Get the sleep you need.  It just makes everything so much easier throughout your life.

Master money.  It’s a powerful force, and so easy to tame if you just take the time to understand it and follow a few simple rules.  Spend less than you earn.  Invest what you save.  Start early, and never stop.


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

There are 3 books I regularly give to my friends and family at life milestones (e.g. graduation) or because we’ve talked about various money topics.

Richest Man in Babylon is a great story about a man getting control of his finances.  It’s easy to read, easy to implement, and if followed will set a person on the path to financial security.

How To Make $1,000 A Minute is the best salary negotiation book I’ve ever read.  There are more nuanced approaches, but it’s a fundamental framework that has served me well for my entire career, that I re-read every time a salary negotiation comes up.

Rich Dad Poor Dad is a very well known book.  While controversial, his stories demonstrate the power of entrepreneurship and the risks of trading your time for money.  I was raised fairly traditionally – go to college, get a job, retire at 65 – and never exposed to alternative paths until I discovered them for myself, in many cases too late to make a difference.  I encourage everyone to read this book, especially students trying to choose a path in life.


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

I write at Enwealthen about the simple steps to financial freedom and a secure retirement.  You can read more there, or subscribe to get my thoughts directly to your inbox.

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