Where’s the Happiness?


Are you happy with your life the way it is?  Overall, can you say you’re truly happy?  If not, do you know why? Could it possibly be because you haven’t made the choice to be happy?

When we think of being successful, we imagine that happiness is an inevitable side effect.  We may envision ourselves with the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect children, the perfect level of income, the perfect home, the perfect car, etc.  And we believe that all of that stuff will make us happy.

Realistic expectations

However, that view is skewed.  Material objects and other people cannot make us happy. In reality, each of us is responsible for our own happiness, and it all begins with a choice to be happy.

Maybe you have a hard time believing that, especially if you are experiencing challenges or lack in your life right now.  But think about this:  why do rich people still experience unhappiness?  Why do successful people still experience unhappiness?  Because money and success do not automatically create happiness!

Neither do power, status, romance, or material objects.  If we believe those things are the source of happiness then it’s because we are mistakenly looking outside of ourselves to fill this need. Granted, those things can contribute to the quality of our life experience, but they are not and never will be the source of true happiness.

Let go of the money equals happiness idea!

Intellectually, we may know that money can’t buy happiness, but some part of us still believes that we’d feel better if we were rich.  Yet when we really look at wealthy people, we must wonder if they are any happier than the average person.

Do wealthy people laugh more, experience more joy, or have greater fulfillment in their lives?  Perhaps some do – but how much of it is a direct result of their wealth?

Wealth has its own challenges

Believe it or not, some people seem to grow less satisfied the wealthier they become!  Perhaps they were under the misconception that money would solve all their problems and now they are finding out it doesn’t work that way.

Having a large amount of money can create a whole new set of challenges.  I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories about people who win the lottery or come into a large fortune through an inheritance or other means.  Many of them experience a few years of heartache and struggle, and end up flat broke again.  Money didn’t solve their problems – it only made them worse!

Choose happiness

Another reason why wealth can make us miserable is that it distracts us from what is truly important for a happy and fulfilling life.  We find ourselves focusing more and more on material objects and end up feeling disconnected from our inner selves.

If you are feeling unhappy in your life right now and you’re thinking that money will solve your problems, it’s time for a reality check.

Don’t get me wrong. I like money as much as the next guy and having a material abundance can certainly make our lives easier. But money is not the key to happiness and lack of it is not a legitimate reason to feel unhappy. Being happy is a choice you can make right now and it doesn’t cost you a dime. You are the key to your own happiness and no amount of money will change that.

Have you noticed how fast materialistic based happiness fades?
Has the pursuit of wealth ever resulted in lasting happiness?
The lines are open!

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  1. Nancy May 17, 2011 Reply

    Great post my friend Jonathan,

    So very true – happiness is certainly born within us and not outside of us!

    I remember years ago when I lived on a very tight budget – happiness was still alive and well – it’s a choice I made a long time ago – living in gratitude and joy – of course, you will have your challenges and your not so good days but it’s our choice in how we handle these times.

    In gratitude,

    • Jonathan May 17, 2011 Reply

      Hi Nancy, like you I try to always remember that it’s not what happens that really matters, but rather how we choose to respond to it. We can always adjust our focus to minimize the negative and amplify the positive. Some may say that’s not reality. I say we all have the ability to create our own perception of reality.

  2. David Stevens May 17, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    Enjoy your travels. Happiness is an ‘inside job’. External gratification is generally only fleeting. As you say, it comes down to our choices. My choice is to be happy, the flow on effects are ginormous.
    Be good to yourself

    • Jonathan May 17, 2011 Reply

      Hey David, choice is such a powerful concept. The real question that each of us must ask ourselves is “Are my choices empowering or limiting?” You’ve certainly set the right example!

  3. Debbie May 19, 2011 Reply

    Wonderfully said Jonathan. I found out that I was really happy when I only had a quarter to my name and 3 little kids to feed. I knew I was the richest person in the world when I looked into there small faces. I couldn’t ask for more.

    Happiness is a choice and you are right, money can not buy happiness. It can make life a little easier, but it is love that brings happiness.
    Thanks again and blessing to you,

    • Jonathan May 20, 2011 Reply

      Hi Debbie, it’s great that you were able to make that distinction during a time when money was so scarce. That is usually the time when people start using the lack of money for an excuse to feel sorry for themselves which is not a very happy state.

      • Debbie May 23, 2011 Reply

        Jonathan I have learned that when I have a problem, I am most likely the one that created the problem, so it is up to me to find the solution for it. Maybe my thinking at that time was wrong and I was the one needing to fix it. When things happen we are supposed to learn from them, if we don’t they will keep happening until we do learn. When we feel sorry for ourselves the situation just gets more challenging. I have learned to be a fast learner, LOL

  4. Steve May 20, 2011 Reply

    Jonathan, after reflecting on happiness for quite a while, it seems to ring true that Brian Tracy’s writing about the Law of Indirect Effort seems to be true when it comes to happiness. If happiness is directly pursued, it’s like trying to catch smoke: not very likely. But when we work on meaningful goals, connect with close friends and family, give of ourselves to others, we find happiness indirectly. And also by the ways you wrote about ;)

    • Jonathan May 26, 2011 Reply

      Hi Steve, the reason we can’t pursue happiness directly is because happiness is a byproduct of giving. Most people are convinced that it is a result of receiving and get frustrated when acquiring doesn’t result in the happiness they were expecting.

  5. Andrew May 23, 2011 Reply

    Hey Jonathan. I find that I am becoming happier as I get older and wiser (I hope). I try to focus on everything that I have in my life, and less on what I don’t have in my life. I find that I get an immediate sense of satisfaction when I realize all the good things that I have in my life.

    Still, if I was going to be unhappy, I think I would prefer to be rich/unhappy than poor/unhappy. :-)

    Thanks for your post.

    • Jonathan May 26, 2011 Reply

      Hey Andrew, sounds like things are moving in a good direction for you. That’s excellent. As to you very last statement my response and personal viewpoint is that, rich or poor, I would rather choose to be happy!

  6. Rick June 7, 2011 Reply

    Great post!
    I am not as experience in life as probably most of the bloggers here but I see this topic with a different perspective. I think that happiness is very subjective to the person…some people find that living modestly is happy and some find that living only in fame can bring them happiness.

    At the end of the day though, for myself, I find that being able to do what I want, when I want really makes the difference in my happiness. Wealth in my opinion is not only about money. Wealth in life has many other components like freedom in time (like for traveling =D), health, relationships, etc. Although, as the saying goes, money can not buy happiness directly, it is essential for happiness. I think the key to everyone’s happiness is to determine what balance of this combination makes them happy. It’s a shame that the materialistic nature of our society blinds people into thinking that the only thing in the balance is money. That’s how I explain why so many rich people are miserable – they lack the rest of the balance. Spending all your energy and time making heaps of cash will most likely tip the balance of that happiness combination I was talking about.

  7. Len March 7, 2013 Reply


    You are right on the money sir. Three years ago we started a business that has done quite well. The money stresses that used to consume us have been replaced with worse stress over money hoarding, investing, planning, obsessing, etc.

    My wife and I truly have never been more unhappy than we currently are with money and options. Unbelieveable right???!!!!

    I never would have expected this!! The joy of saving for a relatively small purchase, or taking the time for a simple camping trip is FAR more rewarding than looking at a bank account and a relentlessly busy schedule. CRAZY

    Changes WILL be made. Life can be short, and has alot more to offer.

    Again, thanks for the post.

  8. lynne April 21, 2014 Reply

    Hi, very well said ” Being happy is a choice you can make right now and it does not cost you a dime. You are the key to your own happiness and no amount of money will change that”. I believe money is important but living a happy life will not really cost you anything, a simple smile, appreciating your blessings and being grateful for the people who loves you, simple joys that means a lot. Thanks for a very enlightening post.

  9. Julie Kinnear April 25, 2014 Reply

    I feel that as time goes by, my preferences are changing and so are my reasons for happiness. It’s more about the moments I can share with my family because I think these are the only things that really matter: to see them laugh, play or just enjoy every second we have. And the most important is, that I stopped to regret things from the past I couldn’t change. That makes me free.

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