Monthly Archives: June 2012

Happiness, Emotion and Money;

Want something about Happiness and Money?

Here’s a great blog/article by Carl Richards and his site behaviorgap.com

This week I’m thrilled to share a special, three-part series to introduce my first new print of 2012, Repeat Until Happy?.  This has, by far, been my most popular sketch over the past several months at BehaviorGap.com so I wanted to do a special series exclusive to my newsletter subscribers.

Below you’ll get a chance to download a high resolution version of the sketch and read the original writeup I did in the New York Times.

Tomorrow, I’m sending you a special video I created to share my personal story of the lessons I’ve learned on the Happiness Loop.

I hope you enjoy today’s email, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Carl

P.S. After reading this email, I’d love to hear your story about a spin on the Happiness Loop.  Just hit “reply” to this email and send it on. I may not be able to respond to each one, but I’ll read them all.


There seems to be a constant battle between what we have, what we need and what we think we want.

About a year after my wife and I had our first child, we moved into a neighborhood with homes built decades earlier. Each had two or three bedrooms. We soon noticed that when people had a third or fourth child they moved from the neighborhood in search of more space. One day I mentioned this to my next-door neighbor, who was 70 at the time, and he expressed surprise.

He and his wife had raised their five kids in one of the smallest homes on the block.

One of the most challenging personal finance issues we all face is the ever-expanding definition of “need.”

Things we once considered clear luxuries have somehow becomes necessities, often without any consideration of how the change in status happened.

Cars that seemed just fine now seem old fashioned. Then there are children and their cellphones. Only a few years ago it would’ve seemed outlandish for 14-year-olds to need one at all, let alone the latest iPhone.

Achieving clarity about the difference between our needs and wants remains one of the biggest challenges in personal finance and a tremendous source of potential conflict within families. While simple in theory, the calculation is much more complex in practice.

One of the most discouraging parts of modern life seems to be this never-ending sense that we should want more.

While this may not be true for everyone, it does seem like it’s become more difficult to be content with what we have. Whether it’s the media, our friends or even our family, it can be a challenge to separate real needs from wants. So here are a few of things to think about:

  • What if financial happiness is not about getting more but about wanting less?
  • What if things start out as wants and become needs not because the thing itself has changed but because our feelings about it have changed?
  • What if you can never really get enough of something that you don’t need?

From personal experience, I know that the shiny new toy I just had to have often ends up in a pile of things that I eventually need to sell on eBay. I’m not the only one that’s fighting this battle. It’s yet another example of why personal finance can be so complex. Because there’s no definitive list of the 100 things that every family must have, these end up being very personal decisions

I’ve talked about some of the ways I’ve seen people look for balance between wants and needs. They include things like sleeping on a decision overnight. My personal rule is that before I buy a book, it has to sit in my Amazon shopping cart for five days.

What have you done to help better define the difference between a want and need?

And how have you focused more on being content with what you have instead of always striving for what you think you want?

FROM CARL RICHARDS of BEHAVIORGAP.COM

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What are you looking at?

Someone was asking me about a situation that I have discussed before, he said it was helpful to hear and suggested that I put it up here on the blog to share with you….

Not long ago I was working for a business owner that was very competent at his job, he knew his stuff, he was knowledgeable and educated. He could give good advice. His bedside manner and his style was something that I did not enjoy, however. I joined up with him with one expectation only to find out what he was like in the day to day job. He was a micromanager, generally unpleasant, changed his mind frequently, and was not a good boss, in my opinion.

I began to really focus on his mannerisms, his slightly hostile reactions, his general short nature. I was really getting unhappy. At the same time I was looking for a Plan B, for a way out. I was getting frustrated, depressed, even scared. I wanted to get out, get another job- any job- even if a step back.

Over time this attitude of mine created problems, as you can guess. I got stressed, even physically ill especially in the mornings before work. I blamed myself for misreading the owner, the situation. I blamed myself for putting my family and I in a bad position. I even felt sorry for myself.

Around that time I remember talking to someone and she were telling me about her job. She was a nurse and had a boss that had some of the same traits as the above mentioned items. She focused on her boss’s negative attitude and comments.

From an objective viewpoint, I was able to see that she was focusing on what didn’t work, she was paying attention only to the weaknesses. I suggested that she focus on what did work, and pay attention to what her boss did right, her boss’s strengths. (It was easy for me to see a solution when it was removed from my own personal life) She was miserable until she chose to focus on her boss’s good traits. Her day to day life became better.

I laughed and realized that her situation was essentially the same as mine. I was paying attention only to my boss’s weaknesses and traits that were problematic. So I began to list things he did well. He was good at X, Y, Z, and did certain things well. I wrote down that I had a job, a salary, benefits, and I would do this several times a week. I practiced gratitude. Since I was being hard on myself about the situation, I also wrote things that I did right in this situation and other times in my past – accomplishments, good ideas, good choices, etc. Frankly it was hard at first to list good things about him or I. Then it became easier.

Life wasn’t perfect. I still knew that I wanted to move on from that job but paying attention to the good stuff definitely helped my stress level, my health, my marriage, and it helped the relationship with my boss. I even did better at work, which improved the situation.  I also made a list of what I wanted – before I knew that I didn’t want this position because of A, B, and C but I wasn’t clear on what I wanted. So I wrote down things I wanted in a new role. All of this made me calmer, more relaxed, happier. It seems simple, even a little silly but I am here to tell you that it helped a lot.

Eventually I did move on to another position where I was happier and I had more freedom, choices, and that was a better fit. I was even able to earn more money and put more into my own pocket. I had more control. I believe that my switch to focusing on what worked, instead of what didn’t work, helped me tremendously. Focusing on what I wanted, instead of what I didn’t want definitely clarified my actions, steps, and helped my future move ahead.

“Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.”
Anthony Robbins

So….ask yourself from time to time…”What are you looking at?”

It is more than simply positive thinking….it is looking at the things that are working in life, things that you have done well, things that others do well, positive personality traits. Looking at what we want instead of what we don’t want can really make a difference, too.

A thought on want….

A quote from Mike Dooley/www.tut.com


For all things and non-things that you may ever want, understand that sometimes the fastest way to get them is to forget them, and to focus instead on just being the most amazing human being you can be. At which point all of your heart’s desires, spoken or unspoken, will be drawn to you more powerfully than a magnet is drawn to steel.

Have an amazing day,
The Universe

Words To Live By: Patience

pa·tience – noun 1. the quality of being patient,  as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.

3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.

The above is about this Word To Live By – Patience. This is a definition I found on the Web.

Besides being a really good Guns ‘N Roses song, Patience is something we all may struggle with from time to time.

Sometimes we want our child to heal quicker, get through that rough period ; maybe we want to work out a relationship issue faster; we want a new job quicker; we want the home to sell/close faster; we want to get pregnant quicker; we want the medical results back sooner; we want our loved one to recover now; we want the payment to come to us faster; – in general we want that something to be resolved faster.

But we must learn patience.

I have read different points of view on patience – some say that we need to go with the flow and ride the waves that life gives us, be patient and just go with it. Others say we need hard, specific goals, and we go for those goals in specifically defined action steps and we don’t give up. I fall somewhere in between – I think we need goals and we need a plan but sometimes we need to accept, have faith, and listen to life. I’m not always certain how much of either – it is a balancing act.

Patience involves acceptance of the situation. Patience is about having faith that things will come, faith in yourself that you can do it. Patience is about calmly and confidently going for it, instead of being in a panic or rush. Patience is about living in the present, taking our time, living in the moment….don’t rush it, experience it, live in the now.

I found it interesting that the above definition mentioned ‘ without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like’. Great advice, right?

I also think that we all can probably improve by thinking about the definition “quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence”

Sometimes when I catch myself being impatient, I step back a moment, remind myself to be patient. Then I often at least feel a little better and sometimes I actually come up with an idea or action step that might help me get closer to the goal.

I remember when I was in a tough financial situation. We had an issue with our mortgage company- they owed us an overpayment of insurance funds but wouldn’t release it. They also would not resolve another issue for about a month, for no specific reason. I was also looking to either improve my income in a large way or find a new job. I was anxious. I woke up in the morning and I dreaded going to work. I woke up in a panic many times. I was short and crabby with my kids. Not cool.

It wasn’t always easy but when I practiced patience, I was better able to handle the mortgage lender and their requests. I was better about doing my work and being productive. I was certainly a better father and husband.

In the big picture, whether you are religious or not, let’s face it, our needs and wants in time and space are actually pretty ridiculous. We get impatient when our text takes 35 seconds to send instead of 10 seconds. We get impatient when our direct deposit takes 2 days. We easily forget that we received hard copies of paper checks for pay day not long ago that took longer. We didn’t have texting not long ago. Our email process was much slower not long ago.

It is pretty funny too that we get upset by delays in traffic, in our home, in our work of days, weeks or even months. In a lifetime none of that matters does it? In the grand scheme of things timing seems to work out well doesn’t it?

I recall waiting and waiting for something to clear, something to arrive, for something to be resolved. I thought it was so important to have THAT thing NOW. In many cases it worked out much better to have arrived later.

PLEASE SHARE?

Do you think Impatience can help you in your career or life?

How do you balance patience in regards to “go with the flow” or “set goals and go for it no matter what” – where do you sit on the spectrum?

What ideas do you have to share about patience?

20 Guiding Thoughts to Post Over Your Desk

(this image was from this weekend’s airshow in Latrobe, PA)

OK, It’s Monday and maybe we all miss the beautiful weather and weekend?

It’s tough to get in the groove?

Here is something to help you…I saw this on a site called horsesmouth.com

Good stuff

20 Guiding Thoughts to Post Over Your Desk
http://www.horsesmouth.com/linkpo/87542_18.htm
What’s simple to say isn’t always easy to do.

These tidbits of industry-oriented wisdom will keep you working to your optimum daily, and keep complacency at bay.

Grass is greener?

You may think that the grass is greener on the other side but if you’d take time to water yours, your grass would be just as green.

Life is good website

Sharing an article: Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Strangers

I subscribed to a website/email from earlytorise.com

It often has good stuff.

Below is a recently email article they sent out with a by line of Jonathan Fields of http://www.JonathanFields.com

Your True Focus

Focus on improving yourself and you’ll improve your lot in life. Focus on planning ahead to overcome obstacles, rather than reacting. Be a driver, not a reactionary. Be the cause, not the effect. This is particularly important when raising your children, as Jonathan Fields explains today.Craig BallantyneThe most important question to ask on the job is not “what am I getting?” The most important question to ask is “What am I becoming?” – Jim Rohn


Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Strangers

By Jonathan Fields

They don’t want to admit it, but a lot of working dads don’t want to be around their kids…

That sounds so horrible. And, in fact, it’s incredibly sad. Because, for many, the solution is a lot closer than believed, once you step back and take the time to see what’s really going down.

I’m not a psychologist, I’m just a guy who tends to spend a whole lot of time examining the modern human condition. And because I’m a dad who has chosen what most would consider an unorthodox path, I tend to focus a lot of my attention on the dynamics of being a dad. And, one of the questions I ask a lot is…

What does it really mean to provide for your family?

It’s not easy to answer for most dads, nor for moms. But, for me, being a dad IS a magical experience. Last night my daughter said to me, “Daddy, you work from home so you can be with me and mommy more, right?” “Yes,” I replied, “but even if I worked at an office, I’d still do everything possible to spend as much time with you as I could.” With that, she smiled, gave me a hug and a kiss and danced off to play with her friend.

I am fascinated (and saddened) by the widespread dad-kid dynamic I’ve seen unfold every day that pushes dads and kids apart.

I’m sure there’s some fancy psychological word for it, but I call it the Estrangement cycle. It’s easier explained as a short parable, the story of Peter.

Peter is a married father of two kids, a 4 year old girl named Janie and a 7 year old boy named Timmy. They’ve got a 4 bedroom house in a nice neighborhood with a pretty hefty mortgage and the thought of paying their living costs, along with starting to save enough to send two kids to college is freaking Peter out a bit. He wants the best for his kids, so he puts in long hours at work, so he can advance up the ladder and earn enough to send his kids to a better school, buy a bigger house and afford nicer things for the family.

At the same time, though, the job Peter is working at, along with the hours he’s putting in, are beginning to empty him out. He dreads Monday’s and gets home most nights long after the kids are asleep. Every day is filled not only with the stress of getting his work done, but the increasingly soul-sucking realization that what he’s doing has little intrinsic interest beyond a paycheck. And, on the rare occasion when he gets home in time to see his kids, whom he genuinely loves, he’s so burnt that all he can think about is hiding away from the family so he can “wind down.”

Problem is, Peter doesn’t realize his kids see what’s happening differently…

Peter’s home so infrequently his kids barely know him, and he barely knows them. Which makes Janie and Timmy not only desperate for random glimmers of attention from their dad, but also angry and frustrated at the fact that their daddy is never home.

And, here’s where all this pent up anger and desire starts to spin into something tragic…

Every time Peter is home early enough for dinner, his kids run and jump all over him. Why? Because they know it’s likely a short window, and they want as much of daddy as possible. If Peter loved what he did, he’d be more likely to come home in a far more energized, fulfilled state and have more to give. But he doesn’t, so his need to wind down and recharge his battery conflicts almost violently with his kids’ need to have more time with the dad they love and miss terribly.

So, as the kids clamor for Peter’s attention, he begins to withdraw more.

They’re all over him, and he can’t take it. So, he tries to push them off, to create a little space to breath. Janie and Timmy respond by getting even more aggressive with their need for attention because now daddy’s home, but he doesn’t want to be with them. So, they start to act up in a big way. Not out of genuine aggression but out of frustration. Daddy’s home, but he doesn’t want to play. Peter misreads what’s really happening and, already agitated from long hours and a draining job, gets pissed off wondering why his kids are so wild “all the time.”

And that leads him to withdraw further because it’s uncomfortable spending time with them. Janie and Timmy sense the withdrawal and fight even harder against it, making time together downright painful. As the cycle ramps up over months, then years, Peter chooses to work more so he’s home less and doesn’t have to “deal” with his increasingly alienated kids. Which, over the years, turns his kids’ desperate desire to be with him more into frustration, anger, alienation and, eventually, hatred.

What started as Peter’s genuine desire to provide the best possible future for his kids turns into a family that may benefit from wealth, toys, prestige and power, but those things become poor proxies for what the kids have really wanted from day one… a dad who’s there, truly present to love them, to play with them, to listen to and share thoughts, ideas and dreams.

Because what Peter never realized is that providing isn’t about presents, it’s about presence.

And, this doesn’t even touch on the dynamic between Peter and his spouse.

The question becomes: what do you do to stop the cycle?

As I mentioned before, I am not a psychologist, so all I can offer is thoughts and observations. But two things immediately come to mind.

First, a simple awareness of what’s really happening can go a long way toward identifying patterns and cycles. That awareness creates opportunities to deliberately break those patterns and cycles by changing your behavior. By committing to becoming more present, more engaged and involved. And, yes, that may well mean, difficult conversations, hard work and a healthy dose of apologies. It may also mean leaving money on the table.

But I’d rather pay the price in loss of “stuff” than loss of the extraordinary connection I have with my daughter any day.

Second, you may want to look seriously at the impact your career choices have had and continue to have on your relationship with your kids (and your spouse, lover or partner).

Is your job, regardless of what it allows your family to “have,” leaving you so depleted, stressed, angry and exhausted that they no longer get to “experience” what it’s like to have an engaged, loving, energized, present dad and husband?

And, are you left so burnt and estranged that you’re now largely incapable of drinking in the love, the conversations, the endless moments and opportunities that make being a dad magical?

Simple truth that us men have trouble wrapping our heads around…

Being a “provider” isn’t all about money, it’s also about “providing” love, attention, support, inspiration, compassion and guidance.

It’s about being there to snuggle and hug, to listen and play, to encourage dreams, and to foster within our kids an understanding, through our actions, that these are the things being a parent is all about. And, that, despite the fact that we need to work, we love, more than anything else, to be with them. That’s pretty hard to do when you’re never there or worse, when you’ve become so alienated from your kids, you’d all “prefer” to be apart.

Maybe if you’ve found yourself in Peter’s shoes, it’s time to call that family meeting, and some substantial evolution may need to unfold over time. And it might not be a bad idea to bring someone a bit more qualified to guide your journey forward.

[Ed. Note. Jonathan Fields is a dad, husband, author, speaker, A-list blogger and serial wellness-industry entrepreneur. Fields writes about entrepreneurship and creativity at http://www.JonathanFields.com and interviews emerging world-shakers at http://www.GoodLifeProject.com. His latest book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance, was named the #1 personal development book of 2011 by 800-CEO-Read.]

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