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Net Happiness is Not Based on Net Worth

As 2008 comes to a close it’s important to remember… well, it’s important to remember what’s important.  Ben Stein does a pretty good job of that in this article.  He is ostensibly talking about the fallout from Bernard Madofff’s Ponzi scheme, but he says a whole lot more:

We are more than our investments.  We are more than the year-to-year or day-by-day changes in our net worth.  We are what we do for charity.  We are how we treat our family and friends.  We are how we treat our dogs and cats.  We are what we do for our community and our nation.  If you had $100 million or $100,000 a year ago and now you have a lot less, you’re still the same person.  You’re not a balance sheet, at least not one denominated in money…

It’s a tough thing to remember in a business measured by commissions.  Our lives are surrounded by miracles and drowned out by laughter.  Having money may improve our lifestyle, but it does not improve us.  Losing money may cause us hardship, but it does not lessen us.  Our happiness is a function of how happy we see ourselves at our core.  It is a choice of awareness.  Ben Stein gets that.  Choose to be happy – it’s more fun.

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  • 12 comments

    12 Comments so far

    1. J Boyer Morristown NJ December 29th, 2008 7:42 am

      I agree, we are who we are. Money is best left as a secondary measure only really pertaining to the ability to maintain a quality of life.

    2. Geno Petro December 29th, 2008 7:46 am

      Sean…well put. ‘I am not the sum total of my bills…I am not the sum total of my bills…I am not…’

    3. Sean Purcell December 29th, 2008 8:58 am

      J – well said: “the ability to maintain a lifestyle” is a great example of the purpose money does serve.

      Geno – I owe, therefore I am…

    4. Jeff Brown December 29th, 2008 9:25 am

      Do you ever just hit a triple? :)

    5. Teri Lussier December 29th, 2008 11:58 am

      >Choose to be happy

      I tell my kids this all the time. Next time I’ll add “- it’s more fun.”

    6. David Shafer December 29th, 2008 1:14 pm

      Nicely put. Thanks for posting that Stein article! Like most people my net worth took a hit this year, but I am still up here in New Hampshire enjoying life and still took care of my favorite charities and still spending time with my family. Happy New Year!

    7. Eric Blackwell December 29th, 2008 5:05 pm

      Beautiful, Sean.

      That’s EXACTLY in line with my own summary of the year. I had not seen Ben Stein’s post, but I appreciate reading it.

      Good time to remind myself to keep the main thing the main thing.

      Happy New Year to you, my friend.

      Eric

    8. Paul December 29th, 2008 7:24 pm

      That’s great! “did you ever hit a triple” . We focus too much on the home runs hit in life!
      Great post Sean!

    9. Sean Purcell December 29th, 2008 8:15 pm

      Jeff – you crack me up. Hittin’ for the cycle… that’s what I say.

      Teri – Youth is wasted on the young. Maybe tell them that choosing to be happy comes with more minutes for their phone…

      David – Happy New Year to you too, my friend.

    10. Sean Purcell December 29th, 2008 8:17 pm

      Eric – Hard to miss when you’re going with Ben Stein. Did you ever watch his show Win Ben Stein’s Money? The man is brilliant.

      Paul – Thank you. Here’s to a prosperous 2009!

    11. Steven December 29th, 2008 11:55 pm

      I’ve always been amazed by people who never ask themselves “How much is ENOUGH?”

      My wife and I retired back in 2001… and everyone assumed we were “rich.” Nope. Just had some investments that gave us *enough* to cover our monthly expenses… we looked at each other and said, “Hey! We’re done!”

      Enough is way less than what most people think it is.

      ;-)

    12. Susan January 29th, 2009 7:10 am

      Keeping things in perspective and your eyes on what is important…people. Thanks for this reminder as we dig into 2009 and see what this year brings.