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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

Believing in Enough

Dr. Zan’s Thoughts:

Upon hearing the familiar adage “Money can’t buy happiness,” most of us would readily agree that this statement rings true. We know intellectually that the size of our bank accounts or the stature of our financial portfolios will not provide the key to fulfillment. We believe with our hearts that the people in our lives are and need to be our top priorities. And yet, does our behavior align with these thoughts and beliefs? Do we truly prioritize our loved ones over our pocket books if we reflect honestly on the ways in which we engage? Do we spend as much time contemplating how we can offer kind words and acts of service to others as we do on how we are going to afford that next big purchase? For those of us who are privileged to have access to expendable income, do we make thoughtful choices with our money that will actually enhance experience for ourselves and others? Or do we sometimes get caught up in the “must have” culture that surrounds us, somehow buying into the brilliantly marketed notion that our stuff provides meaning.

Research has informed us that once our basic needs are met, higher salaries do not correlate with greater happiness. And, I should probably specify that “basic needs” do not include luxury vehicles or the latest i-phone with unlimited data plans. Much as we long for making it to that next tier on the pay scale, we quickly habituate to the new salary, and soon enough, it does not feel like quite enough either. Do we really want to live life with an “if only” attitude?

As anyone who has met me or read this blog knows well, I believe in hard work. I am also a huge fan of appropriate, generous, equitable salaries paid to those who work hard. However, it is the chase of more and more money and all that it provides that makes contentment and full engagement in the gifts of the moment elusive.

So perhaps this is a perspective worth trying. You are never going to be able to afford everything that you might want. But chances are that you can afford something that is meaningful to you and your most special people. Decide together what that something might be, and then thoughtfully execute a plan. I’m hoping, for your sake, that you choose something that creates a shared experience for you and yours. I’m hoping that your choices reflect the fact that you want more time together and opportunities to create memories. The sooner you create those memories, the longer you will have to enjoy basking in them.

Let me also suggest the following. If you are someone who discovers yourself working non-stop and missing events that are important to your loved ones, you might have created the narrative that you are making this sacrifice for your family and that they are ultimately much better off as a result. Would you please actually check the validity of that operating assumption with your people? Have a conversation. Determine your values together. Decide when it is important for you to remain engaged in your work and role as a provider. Also decide when it is most meaningful for you to set work responsibilities aside and offer your full presence to the time with your loved ones. And please, please--do not be fooled into thinking that you can accomplish both at the same time. If you are that parent who is looking at your phone the entire time you are at your child’s game or concert, please just go back to work. Nothing is more heartbreaking than watching a child try to make eye contact from the risers or the field with a parent whose face is buried in a screen. If you are in attendance, learn to be fully present. Full presence is equally important for a partner, spouse, or friend as well. How sad to observe couples out to dinner who never utter a word across the table in favor of interactions on their phones for the duration of an entire meal!

I can never say it enough: be present where you are. And let your finances be enough to create experiences with those who matter enough. Money does not buy happiness, but used wisely, it can provide a pathway to greater connection.

Dr. Nadine’s Reflections:

Most of my life I’ve had a checkered relationship with money.  Many of my adult years were spent in school, doing Masters and doctoral studies.  That entailed taking out endless student loans, living on whatever was on sale at the grocery store, counting quarters to see how many loads of wash I could do at the laundromat.  Thankfully I had generous friends who would let me come to their homes to share their resources. I was able to take my laundry and use their machines; I could sleep at their houses when, in the summer, the temperature of my apartment on the third floor of an old Victorian house would soar to over 100 degrees.  There was one month, I remember, when I relied on the generosity of my dear friends and family, because I was between jobs, so had no home or car, not yet knowing where I was going to end up.  

Then, there were other times when my disposable income allowed me to indulge myself in sundries like getting manicures and pedicures.  I could go out to dinner and not think intently on how much the entree would be or if I could order wine with my meal. I could buy a car and know I could make the payments each month.

But I offer these examples, because I was as happy being financially in need as I ever was being monetarily comfortable.  And the reason is because my happiness was directly connected to the wonderful relationships I had with the people in my life.   For your wellbeing and for your health, it is critical to keep your focus on your dear ones. It’s vital to your happiness to prioritize relationships over material goods.  It’s not an option. Each of us decides how happy we will be, regardless of our circumstances. Money indeed can’t buy happiness, and while it may make life easier, it doesn’t make it more gratifying.

I implore you: choose wisely.

#trueheightsconsulting #happiness #mindfulness #mindfulselfcompassion


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