by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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If you are not familiar with this concept, please allow me to elaborate. I think this is a derivation of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs triangle. Here is one explanation you can reference for more information.
There are other studies that correlate with this as well, and one that I really like to share is this one. A recent study done at Princeton shows that once you reach an annual income of $75,000 your life is basically financially secure to some degree. by this, it is implied that you have enough money to have a decent home, a car, money for other life essentials, and the bill collectors are not banging down your door. How you manage that money will of course have a big impact on this, but play along. In essence, what the study shows is that having twice as money by no means would make you twice as happy. Which brings up a really interesting set of conversations…
When I have done talks at the University level, I look forward to asking this question and having a brief discussion on what the audience thinks is the annual income that they need to be happy. I get numbers that are all over the board, sometimes a million dollars in thrown out in all seriousness. Our world of consumerism is poisoning our brains to think that more is better; the Hedonic Treadmill that a large majority of us unknowingly jump onto without realizing it. Everything from four years at an expensive university, a new car, a cool apartment or a big house, etc. all are part of the process. It makes you competitive with those around you, even those you don’t speak to. The feeling that when the neighbor down the street gets s new car, you need to trade yours in for a better one too. It is a vicious cycle that leads to a lot of unhappy and broke people.
If you look at the studies done, six out of ten Americans don’t have $500 in savings to their name. Think about that, you blow a tire, you have a minor medical emergency that requires an Urgent Care trip (not a hospital), or a family member has an issue…and 60% of people will reach for a credit card to solve the problem. Many credit cards have an interest rate above 15%, so you are paying WAY more for things than most people realize. YOU HAVE TO BREAK THE CYCLE. You have to learn to handle money to some degree as one part of your triangle of happiness. Financial control (or lack thereof) is the number one thing couples fight about, and is a huge contributor of stress and anxiety. I know, I have been there. I sleep a whole lot better at night now than I ever did, and I owe my wife a huge thank you for setting me straight on my financial literacy.
I have discussed this in other blog posts if you want to read more about my own issues and my thoughts on this topic.
The next section of the triangle is strong relationships. As a human being, you cannot undervalue the need of strong relationships in your life. The ability to truly connect with people, to feel, listen and understand them at a deeper level, is a need we all have. Some of us figure it out early, others later on in life, but either way, it is always there just under the surface. You need to cultivate personal relationships with select people in your life. This will be a revolving list, as some will prove worthy of being added, and others will need to be trimmed from that list due to a variety of reasons. I think you should strive to have a ton of people that you know and interact with, who would return a phone call from you in a time of need, but have a short list of really close friends that are aware of your darkest secrets and still love you.
The third corner of the triangle is a sense of purpose. Many people live their whole lives and don’t discover their sense of purpose. It can be really tough. But I think ultimately you need to find YOUR sense of purpose, The one thing that you want to do to leave your mark on the world. If you have children, you may consider them your sense of purpose, and that can be very true. For some people, it takes a life threatening illness, or the death of a family member or close friend to push them to discover what this is. I had always had a strong desire to be a teacher or mentor, and this is why coaching is such a rewarding thing for me. After my car crash, I finally realized that my desire to do this on a more grand scale needed to be pursued, and this…here I am. I am working on speaking with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in the near future to share my story and hopefully influence a few people that way as well.
The balancing act of these three things is a difficult one to be sure. They are intertwined in the grand scheme of things, but are certainly very independent in their nature. Hopefully you have a head start on the relationships part of the triangle, as I think that is a great base to build your life around. It took me a long time to figure out the financial side, and some interest earlier on in my life and/or better education would have pushed me in the right direction a lot sooner. I finally found what I feel I am most passionate about, and that is helping others through the medium of public speaking. I am by no means at the point where everything is “firing on all cylinders” but the triangle is starting to take shape and become more equally aligned. I, like everyone else, am still a work in progress.
To recap:
  • Financial control is a huge key to leading a happy life
  • More money does not mean a better life; there seems to be a tipping point at $75,000/yr
  • Strong personal relationships make a big difference in your life. Be sure to uphold this
  • Having a dream or goal you are working towards is the third part of the happiness triangle
  • A sense of purpose is a necessity, if you need to, work hard to find yours
  • Never forget that all of us, without exception, are a work in progress
 
I wish you luck in your endeavors.
 

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