5 Ways to Increase Your Wellbeing with Happiness

on 07 February 2022

If you ask a parent what they want for their children when they grow up, the answer will often be a simple one – we just want our children to grow up happy.

Being happy is surely the objective of life; some would even say it’s our responsibility.

But it’s hard to aim for something when you don’t know what it is. What actually is happiness, and how can we increase it?

woman increasing her wellbeing by finding happiness walking through a field of flowers

What is happiness?

Firstly, let’s just clarify what we mean by happiness. It is not binary thing – we are not either happy or unhappy. Rather it is a scale. There will inevitably be times when we are happier than at other times.

What we should aim for is to increase our average level of happiness over time. This is what I think of by the word ‘wellbeing’.

In order to increase happiness, we need to look at how to increase wellbeing, but also how to stop it from decreasing.

Now we have defined happiness, what steps can we take to increase it for our wellbeing?

1 Accentuate The Positive

The first secret to happiness is to focus on the internal. Recent academic research tells us that happiness comes from the quality of our social relationships, and on living a life of meaning and purpose (although certain religions have been telling us this for a very long time!).

But happiness is also external, in that it is the joy we get from helping others.

The Dalai Lama has a wonderful phrase for this. He talks about the importance of “having a warm heart.”

Imagine a society where we carry two responsibilities:

  • to ourselves, to be happy;
  • to make other people happy.

Why don’t we make this the objective of society, the definition of success, rather wealth and possessions?

2 Eliminate the negative

If having a warm heart is something we can do to increase happiness, what about those negative influences on our wellbeing?

We live in a highly consumerist society. We are bombarded with images of people richer than us. TV programmes which parade houses of the rich and famous. Money equals success, or so we are led to believe.

And yet, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” In the book Humankind, historian Rutger Bregman tells us that (according to some tables) the US is the wealthiest nation on the planet. It is also the least happy. Unfortunately, the UK is very close behind on both metrics.

Financial planning is a really very simple way to help eliminate the negative. You just work out what you want from life, what will make you happy, and then spend your money on that. (Have a listen to The Financial Wellbeing Podcast where we discuss this further, click here for all episodes)

Anything that gets in the way of your financial plan is a distraction on increasing your happiness.

3 Latch on to the affirmative

We often make the same mistake with our own finances that we make in society in general; We measure investment performance, rather than what the investments allow us to do. And we use GDP as the measure of success of the economy.

Behind my house is a field, and in that field is a glorious huge oak tree. What is the value, in terms of GDP, of that tree? The answer is: nothing, until it is chopped down and used to make furniture.

Bobby Kennedy put it best in a speech in 1967 when he said:

“…gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.”

In a similar way, the focus of your financial planning should not be on investment returns. It should be on the planning at least as much as the finance. That’s not to say investment management isn’t important; but financial planning is the engine in the car, not the destination of increased financial wellbeing.

4 Philanthropy

Helping others to be happy might take the form of donating money or your time, perhaps getting involved helping with a charity. Perhaps it is as simple as sending a friend a postcard, or a book you know will increase their happiness.

There are some important principles to follow in order to maximise the wellbeing you get from helping others. If you are thinking about philanthropy planning for your finances, do get in touch with Ovation. We have chartered financial planners who can go through these principles with you and ensure your gifted money increases your wellbeing.

5 – Flex your muscles

Happiness is like a muscle. It needs constant work. Happiness does not just come, especially when there are so many distractions trying to turn our heads and encourage us to spend. The role of your financial planner is to help you to create a clear path to your objectives, but also to help keep you on that path. In this way we work together to help maximise your financial wellbeing.

How Ovation can help

This all sounds easy enough to follow, and it can be. However, we all know self-help can only take you so far, this is where Ovation can step in and help. If you would like to create a financial plan around how you can increase your wellbeing through happiness , please do contact Ovation for a chat. You can call us on 0117 942 4333 or email enquiries@ovationfinance.co.uk

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