July 12, 2020   8:32am

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Rich and Happy … Can You Be Both?

Rich and Happy … Can you be both?

If you want to be rich and successful, don’t be too happy. This is according to a research from Ed Diener, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois as reported on in Money magazine*, and I quote:

“Diener and his colleagues used data from the World Values Survey, which measures the happiness of respondents on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 the happiest). They found that income did indeed increase along with happiness but not at the very top. The 10s earned significantly less than the 8s and the 9s. The latter were also more likely to have gone to college, have engaged in the political process and have saved money …

Why is it better to be happy but not euphoric? Diener’s take is that happy – but not too happy – people are strivers. They’re interested in making the sorts of changes necessary to get ahead in life, including engaging in competition (not always a happy pursuit), obtaining more education and changing their behavior when what they’re doing now isn’t working. The 10s, on the other hand, are too complacent to adjust enough.”

The article goes on to talk about other “happiness” research from Duke University. The findings:
“When you compare moderate optimists with extreme ones, one of the biggest areas of difference is in self-control,” says David Robinson, a lead researcher on the Duke study. The extreme optimists overspent. They accumulated debt. They didn’t save. They were more likely to be day-traders. On the other hand, moderate optimists, recognizing the possibility of a run of bad luck, saved more than extreme optimists did …”

“There are some circumstances in which the very happy have an edge. They’re more likely to be successful as volunteers, and they’re better at dating and at maintaining close friendships. All keys to life satisfaction, but not necessarily wealth boosters. Eventually the boss notices that his cherished staffers spend all their time socializing rather than getting work done …”

“To keep yourself a bit more balanced, try these two courses of action:

Surround yourself with the right people. “If you’re looking to get happier, hang out with the optimists and avoid pessimists,” says Frederick G. Crane, executive professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Northeastern University. If you’re too happy, pessimists are the order of the day for you.

Challenge yourself. Even if you’re not constantly floating on a cloud, super-happiness can make you complacent, says Diener. As long as your approach to life and its tribulations is working, after all, why should you try anything new? The problem with such thinking is that when your way of doing things falls short, you may not realize it …

NOTE FROM SNOETY: For another take on the subject of being happy, read “Stumbling on Happiness”, a book by Daniel Gilbert.  Here’s what Steven D. Levitt, author of “Freakonomics” says about it:  “Think you know what makes you happy?  This absolutely fantastic book will shatter your most deeply held convictions about how the mind works.”  Snoety read this book and agrees!



Money, “Want to be rich? Don’t get too happy” by Jean Chatzky, Money Magazine editor-at-large; Arielle Mcgowen contributed.

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