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Money Is Only Worth It if We’re Happy

9 September 2021

Many have viewed financial planning as the management of financial resources to reach personal goals. Typical conversations would include questions like, “How much will my assets grow, how can I protect my portfolio, and what will my retirement look like?”

Whilst these have been helpful questions in the past, we are learning that they are only part of a fuller conversation. Different questions are starting to emerge in our conversations that are focusing more on meaning and purpose.

They are not as easy to answer (sometimes they don’t need answers just yet), but they help us frame the bigger picture of how we’d like to use our wealth for a fulfilling life.

It’s not only our wealth strategies that need to be diversified for healthy growth but our happiness strategy too.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, came up with a single word for what every person wants: ‘eudaimonia’. Eudaimonia encompasses a sense of happiness that leads to a sense of fulfilment.

This spring, we suggest these happiness diversification exercises.

Exercise your way to happiness

Now that it’s getting warmer outside, it’s time to get our bodies moving again. Some research has shown that exercise makes people happier than money does. People who stay active are better equipped to deal with stress, have stronger immunity and have fewer days when they feel down or depressed.

That’s not to say that too much exercise isn’t a bad thing – it’s important to have a balance and not over-exercise. Either extreme can be detrimental to our experience of happiness, but a healthy balance is a powerful way to experience eudaimonia.

Prioritise experiences and people over possessions

Exercise is not the only way to boost happiness; we can invest in experiences. Instead of buying a luxury car, consider saving up for a family holiday. Take breaks from work to see friends and spend time with your favourite people. Prioritise taking walks in nature, reading a book or playing a game with your kids.

Believe in something bigger than yourself

Seeing and believing in something bigger than our reality becomes easier as we spend time with other people outside of a working relationship. It’s not about faith or religion; it’s about connectedness.

If we want to find more ways to invest in our eudaimonia, we need to experience generosity to bigger causes.

Fulfilment, happiness and productivity should grow when we contribute to others. It’s a healthy circle of sustainable growth that is not reliant on market performance or bank balances. Being willing to ask bigger questions and find a deeper meaning to our wealth is where we can begin to experience eudaimonia.

Let’s not only look to diversify our investments; let’s look to diversifying our happiness.

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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