Tag Archives: The Power of Happiness

Guest Post by Timothy McKinney: Can Money Buy You Happiness?

Happy Friday Everyone!  We’re taking a change from guilty pleasures to talk about happiness.  Specifically, that age old question, Can Money Buy You Happiness?  Please welcome the author of The Power of Happiness, Timothy McKinney!

Plus:  He’s offering 3 lucky commenters a chance to win an e-copy of his book!  Leave a comment on today’s post to enter, or double your chances by also leaving a comment on my book review of The Power of Happiness here. All comments must be in by Sunday, September 16th 5pm to win!

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Can You REALLY Buy Happiness With Money?

“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.”

-Helen Gurley Brown

This past month, American cultural icon Helen Gurley Brown passed away after a lifetime of helping people challenge their beliefs. And, her quote about money really captures the age-old question, “Can money buy happiness?”

The answer to this question isn’t as simple as one would think. To illustrate the challenge, let’s look at two people—one with money and one without. To keep as many things constant as possible, let’s imagine that these two people are twin brothers, Bill and Bob. They are, of course, the same age, have the same parents, and grew up in the same environment. They have the same level of health and are both in sales. They’re both married and have two children each. The main difference between the two brothers is that Bill made an investment when he was in college that made him a lot of money. Bob invested the same amount in a different company and didn’t see a return on his investment.

Bill and Bob have a sister, Bonnie. One day, Bonnie comes to her brothers and tells them that her husband has left and taken all of their money. She’s got young children and doesn’t know how she’ll make the rent. She asks her brothers for a small loan. Bob is struggling to pay his own rent and doesn’t have any extra to give his sister. He feels awful, but must tell his sister, “I don’t have the money right now, but why don’t you and the kids come over to dinner this weekend. I can’t give you financial support, but I can give you emotional support.” Bill has plenty of money and is easily able to give his sister the money. “Don’t worry about it, Sis. It’s my gift to you.”

Later that week, Bill and Bob’s mother ends up in the hospital after a fall. She’s broken her hip and needs surgery. Unfortunately, her insurance won’t cover the entire cost of the surgery. Bill says to his mother, “It’s okay, Mom. I can cover the gap. You just worry about getting better.” Bob visits his mom, too. He brings her a huge bouquet of flowers and a copy of her favorite book. He spends the afternoon with his mother in the hospital reading to her.

The next month, during the brothers’ annual “Guys Weekend,” Bill and Bob are sitting on a small boat on a lake doing some fishing. The subject of happiness comes up.  “Bill, are you happy in your life?” asks Bob.

“Yeah, I am. Of course, there are some things I would change…”

“What would you change, Bill? You have all the money you could possibly want. What would make your life better?”

“Well, Bob, I kind of envy you sometimes. Everyone in the family knows that when there is a financial bind, they can come to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love having the ability to solve problems with money. But I envy the personal connection that you seem to have with everyone. It’s almost as if because you don’t have the financial resources I have, you’re forced to give another kind of support. Money is the easiest kind of support there is to give, and sometimes I think it makes me a bit lazy. What about you, Bob? Are you happy?”

“Yes, I’m happy. But, I’d change some things, too. I do wish I had more money. I think I would be happier if I did. It makes me feel awful when I can’t help Bonnie or Mom. I feel like if I just had the money to solve their problems, then I wouldn’t have to feel terrible for other people so much.”

The brothers lapsed into silence for a few moments and contemplated this. Finally, Bill broke the silence.  “I guess it’s like this. Having money makes it easier to do the things that make you happy. It doesn’t MAKE you happy, but it takes away the stresses that can make happiness elusive.”

Bob agreed. “Yeah. I don’t think that one of us is more or less happy than the other, Bill. We each use the resources we have to do the things we can to make others happy. It’s about serving others and giving, whether it’s money or another form of support.”

This story perfectly captures the paradox of money and happiness. You can be happy with money, or you can be miserable with money. You can be happy without money, or you can be miserable with no money. But, there’s no question that having money can at least ameliorate some of the stresses that can make one unhappy. Perhaps, Henry David Thoreau said it best…

“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

Timothy McKinney lives in Redondo Beach, California with his wife Cindy and their two children, Heather and Robbie. He went to the University of Southern California, where he received degrees in Business and Psychology. Since 1997, Tim has been a corporate trainer who conducts workshops on subjects related to happiness and workplace effectiveness. He is a passionate vegetarian who enjoys SCUBA Diving in the Kelp Forests of Catalina Island.

The Power of Happiness: A Book Review

With advice on happiness from Aristotle to Drew Barrymore, Thich Nhat Hanh to Jimmy Hendrix, Gretchen Rubin to Abraham Lincoln, the author of The Power of Happiness has you covered.

Timothy McKinney published The Power of Happiness this past July, and I can only imagine the amount of research he put into this compilation that explores multiple elements of happiness, and our unending pursuit to find it.  Check out the amazon synopsis:

In his new book, The Power of Happiness, Timothy McKinney shows readers how to be happy from the inside out. Happiness is about more than just a positive attitude or a good mood. Happiness comes from a deep sense of well-being that allows a person to be happy regardless of external circumstances. The Power of Happiness gives deep insights into what happiness is and how to reduce worry, stress, and frustration. By learning how to have different responses and reactions to the situations faced every day, readers are able to be happier with the life they have now!

By the end of this book, readers will have discovered:

• What happiness really is
• How you can know if you’re happy (hint: it’s not a feeling)
• What the benefits are to being happy
• What the individual differences of happiness are
• What foods you should eat to be happier
• Whether or not money can make you happy (the answer might surprise you)
• Ten myths about happiness
• How to develop your OWN happiness

After exploring what happiness is, McKinney goes on to discuss how to overcome unhappiness. Readers with a negative attitude will learn what to do to turn their thoughts around. The last part of the book contains ten “hows” of happiness—ten keys to creating a happier life. Readers who want to learn how to be happy no matter what circumstances they face are sure to love The Power of Happiness.

Many of you know that I started blogging and writing again after reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project a few years ago.  I have a love/hate relationship with Rubin’s book because while I valued her advice and story, it all seemed so easy, too easy.  Where McKinney’s book differs is that it has the same research and study involved of how we can identify and test happiness, but the second half of the book (my favorite) is actual practices for the “HOW” of happiness.  There are pages and pages of scenarios, list making, and activities to challenge the way you think and react to situations.  It allows an ongoing learning process for its readers.

So all of you are probably scrolling through my post right now searching frantically for the quick tips to happiness that I gleaned from McKinney’s work.  Well, there’s too many to name!  All the expected tips such as diet, exercise, sleep, work engagement, love, service, safety, money all make an appearance.  But much of the research about how these factors affect you may surprise you.

One of the big takeaways I read is that happiness requires relationships.  I don’t mean couple specific, I mean people in general.  Relationships are an integral part of our self esteem, our affirmations of work and talents, and our ability to give.  Service to others and kind word exchanges with others are crucial to how happy we feel.  And this can come in many forms:  surprising your neighbor with fresh baked cookies, volunteering at a food pantry, telling a coworker you appreciate them, being a cheerleader on Twitter for your tweeps, hugging your spouse/parent/child, etc.  All of those can be affirmations to our spirit, our ability to quantify happiness.

Attention Writers:

You know what was the most interesting to me, both as a writer and as someone who is disgustingly self aware (this is both a positive and negative trait because it means I’m my own worst enemy)?  McKinney studies happiness, but he also has a chapter that dives into feelings behind unhappiness.  The exercises in this book could be used as awesome tools for character sketches.  It makes you think about how people act, or could react, to situations.  What skills in their being help them cope, what is their natural disposition, what words identify them and what words do they wish identified them?

Besides helping you create characters, this book could be read over time and used for further journaling activities.  It’s very well laid out, and all the exercises are helpful; you could really delve into the philosophy behind each of the chapter’s steps.  Plus, every chapter starts with a quote on happiness by a plethora of famous individuals and sometimes an inspiring quote is all you need to be inspired.

Overall, I highly recommend McKinney’s book.  The second half full of exercises is well worth the read.  I don’t think the author writes with band-aid fix-its to finding happiness.  He gives you the research behind it and then provides multiple tools to try, with scenarios as examples and exercises to practice.  It’s one of those books a reader can return to a year later and still find something new, something more that they can learn about themselves.  Actually, I think that’d be really interesting since one of the chapters graphs the spikes in happiness over generations and ages.  Wouldn’t it be a fascinating thing to watch and track how your happiness gage changes from decade to decade?

Don’t you want to read this book now?  Well, you can!  Timothy McKinney has graciously offered to giveaway 3 e-book copies!  Share a comment below and let us know what your thoughts are about our ongoing pursuit for happiness.  How has your perception of how happy you are changed over time?  All those who comment will be entered to win one of the copies of The Power of Happiness.

Comments must be made by Sunday, September 16th at 5pm.

And tune in again on Friday when Timothy joins me to answer the age old question:  Can money buy you happiness?

Timothy McKinney lives in Redondo Beach, California with his wife Cindy and their two children, Heather and Robbie. He went to the University of Southern California, where he received degrees in Business and Psychology. Since 1997, Tim has been a corporate trainer who conducts workshops on subjects related to happiness and workplace effectiveness. He is a passionate vegetarian who enjoys SCUBA Diving in the Kelp Forests of Catalina Island.

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