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Happiness Through Adversity

Many of us are feeling hopeless and scared during these tough economic times. We don't know what to do to make things better and feel helpless. There is no question that it will take some drastic measures as well as time to recover; however, there are many things you can do right now, in this moment, to improve your personal financial situation; which will, in turn, improve the country's situation.

Does money buy happiness?

Happiness tends to elude those who suffer adversity. Right now, for many, financial hardship stands in the way of day to day happiness due to pressure and stress of 'not having enough'. Many people also tend to have a negative attachment to money which is based on scarcity and fear. This attachment creates insecurity. According to Maslow hierarchy of needs, feeling secure is one of the most basic human needs (next to food, water and shelter). Feelings of insecurity will stand in the way of higher needs, like happiness.

But, happiness shouldn't be dependent on what you have, or don't have; happiness is solely dependent on what you think. How do you feel about money? Do you believe that the more you have, the happier you will be? Or do you believe that money is the root of all evil?

Money itself is neither good nor bad. It is how we perceive, how we pursue and what we do with money that determines its positive or negative effect. Money can create powerful, positive changes in the world as well as allow us to function more freely and easily. Money buys the necessities as well as comforts and luxuries in our lives and in the lives of others.

How Do You Measure Happiness?

Happiness is actually a fairly popular topic of scientific evaluation. There are quite a few experts with views on what happiness is, and how you create, or sabotage your own happiness. Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert is one such expert, whose research has found that you can 'synthesize' happiness. That you have a subconscious 'psychological immune system' that helps you change your views about your world, which leads to being more satisfied with what you have. And being "satisfied," feeling that you have "enough," will remove many of your negative energy drains.

Are you satisfied with "enough"? Then you're probably already happier than most.

Another take is that by British psychologist, Adrian White with the University of Leicester, who published the first "world map of happiness" in 2007. Based on a compilation of data from more than 100 studies in the field of happiness research, Denmark comes out at the top as the happiest nation out of 178 countries, followed by Switzerland and Austria, with the United States ranking in 23rd place.

His map rates happiness based on a subjective "state of well-being" (SWB), conceptualized as a sense of satisfaction with your life, both in general and in specific areas such as relationships, health and work.

It is immediately evident that there is an effect of poverty on levels of SWB. However, White's research found that SWB correlated most strongly with health, closely followed by wealth and access to basic education.

Survey says…

A survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal shows that, in many countries, "although economic output has risen steeply over the past decades, there has been no rise in life satisfaction and there has been a substantial increase in depression and distrust."

For example, since World War II, GDP per capita in the U.S. has tripled, but life satisfaction (measured by surveys that ask something like, "overall, how satisfied are you with your life?") has barely changed.

Also Japan and Western Europe had a tremendous rise in GDP per capita since 1958, yet measures of national happiness have been flat. One reason may be that a rising economy produces rising aspirations. There are many villages in the world where people do not own shoes but the people are extremely happy and friendly.

Think gratitude

Research shows that people who pause each day to reflect on the positive aspects of their lives (for example, their health, friends, family, education, freedom) are more likely to experience positive feelings and happiness. Before you even get out of bed, take a moment and think about all of the things that you are grateful for. This will set a positive tone for the day. And, if things start to take a downward turn, take mental inventory of all that is going well in your life and be grateful for it.

Keep life in perspective

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere
8 Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian
6 would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the USA
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death
1 would be near birth
1 would have a college education
1 would own a computer

When one considers our world from such a small compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent. The following is also something to ponder:

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness...you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation...you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death...you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep...you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If your parents are still alive and still married ... you are very rare, even in the US and Canada.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

Are you feeling more satisfied and grateful for what you have? Congratulations! You just increased your level of happiness. Now smile.