Happy People Make More Money

by Millionaire Mommy Next Door on November 25, 2008

in Happiness,Making Money

I like to view Thanksgiving as a national celebration of gratitude. Three years ago on Thanksgiving Day, I started a new family tradition: I asked everyone present at the dinner table to share a few things they’re most grateful for and write them down on a colorful leaf cutout. Each year, I ask my friends and family to add another leaf. I adorn our Christmas tree with this colorful gratitude garland. Last Thanksgiving when I asked my then two-year-old daughter to decorate her leaf, she added sparkles and glittery gems. When it came time to help her write her message of gratitude on the back, I asked her, “what makes you happy?”. She replied, “Purple!”. It truly is all of the little things that make life so beautiful.

Since then, our family shares “happy things” during dinner, year ’round. It’s so cool – our daughter looks forward to our evening tradition and usually initiates the daily gratitude conversation.

Over time, I’ve learned something that is so ridiculously simple: that happiness is a choice. Even during intensely difficult times (caring for my mom during her long, debilitating illness and mourning her resulting death, for instance), I realized that I could be happy anyway. It isn’t circumstance that dictates whether I live a happy life — rather, it is a matter of choice. I can succumb to sadness and overwhelm or I can choose to focus on gratitude, love and happiness. I’ve witnessed that by focusing my thoughts on the happy things, rather than those that sadden me or stress me out, I attract more positive circumstances and contentment to my life. This simple act of gratitude literally transforms my experiences.

How do I change my focus? I make it my mission to look for at least five things each day that make my heart melt, my soul sing and my smile widen. I actively search for things to add to my list. By doing so, my focus changes and in turn, so does my mood. It doesn’t always come easy– I’m genetically predisposed to clinical depression. I’ve learned that happiness takes practice. With practice, I develop a HABIT of feeling happy.

“In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”
– Albert Clarke

For the skeptics in the bunch, I’d like to point out that the power of gratitude is PROVEN. Two psychologists say their Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving indicates that gratitude plays a significant role in a person’s sense of well-being:

“The study required several hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day, while the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences. The last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.

The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved. McCollough and Emmons also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude encourages another.”

Furthermore, happy people MAKE MORE MONEY! Newsweek reports, “although money doesn’t buy happiness, happiness can buy money. Young people who describe themselves as happy typically earn higher incomes, years later, than those who said they were unhappy. It seems that a sense of well-being can make you more productive and more likely to show initiative and other traits that lead to a higher income. Contented people are also more likely to marry and stay married, as well as to be healthy, both of which increase happiness.”

So dear readers, enjoy a HAPPY Thanksgiving! Please share your gratitude for the “happy things” in your life by leaving a comment. Here are a few of mine for today:

tickling my daughter awake
my husband’s laid back attitude
my sister and I putting aside our differences and enjoying the holiday– and one another
my book club friends
learning to play the Marimba
my massage therapist
watching the birds congregate at my birdfeeder
spiced apple cider
you, my reader, for sharing your thoughts with me

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole November 25, 2008 at 7:15 pm

5 of my happy things for today:
1. Watching my husband cheerfully completing things that have been on his invisible (now visible) to do list (we started using Zen To Done and are having wonderful results!)
2. Gluten free brownies
3. It’s been really cold today which has meant a lot of tea!
4. Chatting with a random person at work – who I think I would ask to have lunch with one day if I ever bump into her again
5. Realizing I can have a 2nd monitor hooked up to my computer for less than $50

Reply

stacy April 23, 2012 at 9:46 pm

my happiness:
getting to wake up next to my cuddle bear son every morning…..I sooo appreciate every second I have with him. I’m a very lucky mommy!
Going into my garden every morning and seeing a bit more growth everyday. It makes me excited.
My strong, daily cup of strong coffee with cream and powdered donut. Amazing combination.
Getting to spend today, all day, in my PJ’s
Putting new sheets on my bed and getting to jump into a comfy, cozy bed tonight.

Reply

Bright Star November 25, 2008 at 9:55 pm

I just posted a similar – but not as eloquent – post on my own blog.

My happy things:
My husband’s joyful attitude
My dog’s wagging tails
Singing in the choir
My yoga class
My Bright Star Dreams

Reply

Jacqueline Johns - Your Life Mentor November 26, 2008 at 12:30 am

Soul sisters unite!!

I too, am spreading the word of gratitude in the world. The power of this emotion is greatly underestimated. I just happened to find out by accident how the power of gratitude changes lives. Keep up the good work.

My list:
cats ears
the tree at my window
laughter
my little palace
healthy children

Reply

Andy @ Retire at 40 November 26, 2008 at 3:15 am

Happiness is one of the best things we have which we get for free. And the best thing is, there is also an infinite supply. If we want to be happy, we can and no-one can take that away from (or charge) us for it.

I love it that your daughter said she likes purple. My niece also has a fascination for the colour.

Reply

Shanel Yang November 26, 2008 at 5:35 am

Great post, Jen! Thank you for sharing about your predisposition for depression. My family must be similarly predisposed based on the many serious emotional/mental problems we have suffered. I think such a tradition of conscious gratitude as you have going on in your home would have helped us a great deal. My own outlook on life has changed dramatically for the better since I began counting my blessings regularly, which I began coincidentally on a Thanksgiving.

Today, the things I’m grateful for are:

1. Your blog because you always write with a big, honest heart.
2. A cozy home because it’s raining outside and I’m safely warm inside.
3. A boyfriend who lets me work, eat, and sleep whenever I want.
4. My “can-do” attitude that let’s me face all my fears courageously, even though I’m still very scared as I do so. For instance, my boyfriend might be let go from his job soon, so we would have to drastically change our lives to adjust, including me taking on a day job again, preventing me from blogging as much as I love to.
5. YouTube because I can see a lot of stuff for free that makes me very happy, like old Warner Bros. cartoons, The Little Rascals, The Twilight Zone, and favorite oldies but goodies songs ranging from Motown to Disco to 80s MTV.

By the way, another mood disorder to watch out for is S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder that mimics the symptoms of clinical depression but seems to affect people only during the Fall or Winter months. I wrote about it in a post called “Is the Change of Weather Making You Sad?” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/10/13/is-the-change-of-weather-making-you-sad/

Reply

michelle November 26, 2008 at 9:26 am

I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said! It’s incredibly difficult for me to do this, however. I tend to see the problems around the bend, so I can prepare for them, but that makes me a bit negative. It’s great to be reminded that our eyes need to be always looking up. Thanks.

Reply

michelle November 26, 2008 at 9:28 am

Oh, and my thankful things, since I see a trend here:
My healthy, happy kids
My wonderful husband
A cat that keeps me company each morning
Great Vietnamese food for lunch
A wonderful, newly opened freeway that cut my commute in half!

Reply

Marnellie November 26, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Hi Jen! This is so timely !Thanks for asking!
I’m grateful for:
-My husband’s request for his staff to send our lunch on time
- my son’s sweetness when he said “Im happy because of Mommy and Daddy!”
- the article I made for our local paper
- the clients who booked with us today
- good health always! Hallelujah!

Life is great. I am thankful for this gift!

Reply

Marnellie November 26, 2008 at 12:54 pm

And oh, I love purple too! hugs to your daughter..:)

Reply

Camilla November 26, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Love this post and thanks for reminding me that I want to start something similar with my family.

Hearing my cat purr
Warm fire when it’s cold outside
Hot cup of coffee
My sons (3 years old) hugs & kisses
The way my daughter looks at me (7 years old)

Thanks for such a beautiful post!

Reply

Kathryn November 27, 2008 at 12:13 am

I think you nailed it … our attitude stems from our daily decision(s) to focus on one type of emotion over another rather than our circumstances. Our circumstances are not always of our own choosing … our reactions are. What incredibly powerful creatures are we! Thanks for blogging.

Reply

rhbee1 November 27, 2008 at 9:46 am

Things making me happy today:

Pandora radio, Phobe Snow
I don’t have to do nothing . . .
Writing playfully on my favorite blogs
The rain that is spattering my window while I am warm and cosy inside
Dancing, which I get to do starting tonight and for the rest of the weekend at the US Open Swing Championships in Anaheim

Thanks Jen, I needed that. It reminded me of a game we used to play called “New and Wonderful for the Weekend”

Reply

Mel November 29, 2008 at 5:53 pm

This is very true. I try everyday to keep a gratitude log of just all the “little things” that happen on a daily basis. It is amazing how many little things can happen in one day, especially on a day that you feel overall was absolutely the worst. Some things I am thankful for from today are:

I am launching a new blog.
I have many new followers on Twitter.
My son’s diaper rash is going away.
I wasn’t in the hospital again this year.

Reply

Arp November 30, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I haven’t lapsed into sadness for some time, and a lot has to do with spending more time with my children and basking in the glow of my wife’s pregnancy. We are close to realizing our dream of moving to Costa Rica and focussing on that positive dream has made such a difference for me. It’s so strange but once I committed to the dream, my business picked up significantly.

That being said, I do have stresses from running my business, but if I give it some thought, things are never that bad. When I consider how my situation compares to people around the world who have real worries about food, shelter and personal safety, I have to be thankful for the joy I experience every day in smiles & hugs.

Reply

Johnny December 2, 2008 at 7:28 am

A few things I’m grateful for today:

1. My wife’s infectious and loving attitude.
2. Friends who care about me and who I care about.
3. A strong, healthy body that lets me do the activities I enjoy doing.
4. Sunshine streaming through the window on a cold winter day.
5. Mint hot cocoa.

Reply

Alison Murray Whittington December 2, 2008 at 8:23 am

Thank you so much for this encouraging post… just the reminder I needed.

Reply

poor boomer December 7, 2008 at 2:16 am

I’m happy because I’ve been out of work for over a year with no job prospects in sight.
I’m happy because I’m over 50 and may have attained unemployability.
I’m happy because I spend two-thirds of my meager income to rent a room in a house with nine people, and there is a hacking nicotine addict (cough cough COUGH) in the next room.
I’m happy because I can’t move to a cheaper place because I can’t save up the move-in money and I feel like a cash cow being milked (or is that bilked?).
I’m happy because I can’t even scrounge up the money (for domain registration and web hosting) to start a decent blog.
I’m happy because even the sleazy day-labor agencies don’t have any work for me.
I’m happy because there are great bogs that are informative and entertaining to read.

Reply

sheila December 13, 2008 at 11:59 am

Here’s what I am grateful for:
- the most wonderful friends
- the love of my animal companions
- work that I enjoy
- clean laundry, still warm from the dryer
- a beautiful card with a botanical print on it, sent by a friend in Australia

I highly recommend two short books by M.J. Ryan: “Attitudes of Gratitude” and “The Happiness Makeover.” I had always wanted to be happier but wasn’t sure how to get there, and these two books have helped immensely.

Reply

Aussie August 26, 2009 at 6:24 pm

I myself am a happy person, I get enough money for myself and my family so I agree to what this post is all about. Nice post and a good job in writing it.

Reply

Tracey January 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I just came upon your blog. I decided to make my own list for today.

My daughter came to hug me when she was scared in the middle of the night.
My son’s laughter
My wonderful husband taking care of the kids so I could work
My sister’s support while I stressed on the phone
Getting so much work at once that I’m booked well into next week

I can’t wait to read through your other posts (some time late next week apparently!)

Reply

Linda February 12, 2010 at 1:02 am

What a great reminder! We should be able to focus on the blessings we have instead of the ones we would like to have.
I’m thankful for a Loving God who loves us unconditionally
Thankful for a wonderful husband
3 great daughters who make me smile
Dogs who love to cuddle up next to us
Jobs when many have lost theirs, we are really grateful
A roof over heads and food on the table
warm clothes
loving friends and family
Beth Moore

Reply

Kimberly March 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I have just found your blog and am so thankful for your positive attitude. Right now we are financially in debt and struggling. I have made it my mission to get us on a better path. Although I’m not sure we’ll be where you are, your story has inspired me even more. And to help me change my attitude…today I’m greatful for:

1. My beautiful daughters
2. My loving husband
3. Our health
4. The roof over our head, the clothes on our backs and the food on our table (I am so thankful as there are so many less fortunate)
5. The plan that I have been inspired to work on to make our lives less stressful.

Thank you!

Reply

Sarah May 8, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I don’t know who Kimberly is, but she stole my comment word for word, start to finish. :) Thanks.

Reply

poor boomer May 9, 2010 at 11:32 am

A happiness update:

Now I’m happy because now I’m paying only 60% of my poverty-level income to rent a room in a different house with six other people. (The previous house was foreclosed and everybody had to move.)
I’m happy because NOBODY in the house has a job or a life, and they sit around the living room all day drinking like a fish and smoking like a chimney.
I’m happy that none of them has a life outside the house, so all their friends come over and they collectively flush the toilet (the single bathroom in the house is located right next to my room) about 30 times a day.
I’m so happy that I spend almost all my waking hours away from the house.
I’m happy that it takes a three-hour round trip by bus to get internet. (I live in a ghetto neighborhood close to a large housing project and there are only two internet providers available where I live, each over $60 per month which I can’t afford.)
I’m happy because I’m still unemployed and still have no employment prospects in sight.
I’m even happier that I can’t afford to go to school to get a marketable skill.
And I’m most happy that this rant is hereby concluded.

And I know that last item gives you much happiness.

Reply

stacy April 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I’m so sorry for you sweetheart. I’ve been we’re you are and I’m currently back to being penniless but I know from experience that life goes up and down. You’ll be o.k. if you want to be. Your life is just very hard for right now. Please believe that. It can and will get better……have faith.

Reply

Millionaire Mommy Next Door May 25, 2010 at 11:25 am

@”poor boomer”: I read this article today and thought of you:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/health/23mind.html

Reply

poor boomer May 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Oh I dunno, my problem isn’t with women (as in the article) or work (as in the article), it’s just a chronic lack of skills and therefore of money. Heck in the past 30 years I have had two long-term jobs (the first more than 20 years) so I’m not sabotaging jobs.

It’s just that without skills it’s hard for an older person to earn money in this economy, and without money, you don’t have a lot of housing options.

Reply

Brenda October 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm

1. I started reading your blog today! :) Nice experience
2. I have a new attitude!
3. I have fun with my dog! (love it!)
4. I have a savings account and 0 debts
5. Im thankfull I’m alive

Bonus: nice to hear you are learning to play marimba (I’m from Guatemala and thats one of our national symbols)

Reply

stacy April 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Today I am grateful for:
Always having my children, safe and healthy, I’m grateful for that everyday!
Whitney Houston’s sweet and angelic voice to listen to on the way to the office.
(It’s proof to me that God does truly bless us)
The Salvation Army for trying to help my family
My mother in law, for helping us with food
Having one job on the schedule that actually made a little bit of money today

So many things to be grateful for and it’s not yet 2:00 pm

Reply

stacy April 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm

MY SON’S HAPPINESS FOR TODAY IS:
GOING FOR A WALK WITH MY ME AND THE DOG
COMING HOME FROM SCHOOL

FOR ME IT’S
HAVING BOTH MY CHILDREN HOME FOR DINNER
GETTING MY PERIOD(ACTUALLY I HAD A MISCARRIAGE, BUT IF I HADN’T BLED I WOULD HAVE NEEDED A DNC) SO THIS WAS GOOD
GETTING THROUGH HOMEWORK WITH MY SON (ALWAYS DIFFICULT)
ANTHONY AT CHASE BANK FOR HELPING ME RECOVER A FEW DOLLARS
HAVING FOOD IN MY FRIDGE, (THANKS TO GRANDMA)

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: