Be Happy All This New Year

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Happiness, unlike money, can’t be banked, so now is the time for living in this new, new year. Ten or twenty cashed-up years at the end of your life won’t compensate you for the thirty to forty-year slog to set yourself up for blissful retirement.

Australians are becoming obsessed with the idea that we should work hard today, and are forced by government to lock away part of our salary until we’re at least sixty years old in order to lead a richer life tomorrow. We spend more and more time at work which has us becoming more anxious and unhappy, with depression rates at record highs.

Australians are willing to pay more for housing than any other people on earth. It’s not because of higher land prices or our building materials are of better quality. It’s because we place less emphasis on day-to-day enjoyment than the rest of the world. We are the only ones silly enough to stretch ourselves to breaking point to have the “security of our own home”. But this is not all bad thinking, most people have this desire.

But it’s a mistake to become fanatical about everything, including home ownership. Leading a happy life requires a fine balance between short-term pleasures and long-term goals. Studies into human wellbeing have divulged the factors that are central to personal happiness. Being involved in active pursuits (as opposed to watching television), close relationships and good health.

Apart from that, not much else matters. This applies to money and material prosperity. Once we are above the poverty line, money only makes a small contribution to our level of happiness. And once we reach the average level of income it makes virtually no difference to our level of contentment.

More “stuff’ doesn’t make us happy. A new car or smart television only satisfies a desire, not your level of happiness. A new car will make you feel good for a few weeks, but in the end it’s a silly investment (tell that to my neighbours) because you had to slog away at your job for twelve months to make the purchase.

Blow your money on activities that incorporate other people and involve active pursuits. Purchase tennis and golf memberships for the family and pets for the children. And don’t stress if you spend too much, because even the worst financial over-indulgence barely registers on the scale of human catastrophes.

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