Find out what matters: Having purpose in your life 171
The more you know what really matters to you and you have
meaning and purpose to your life, the more you will care about
what you invest in financially.
Your purpose in life could be to become rich and many people
become rich living an authentic life using their talents and
strengths. However, if there is no meaning beyond the extrinsic
reward of money, the level of well-being and satisfaction with
life is not as great as for those who are doing what they love and
making money.
What you spend your money on is very often what you value. It doesn’t
matter how much you earn if you don’t value money itself, it will fly out
as fast as it flies in, on the things you DO value!
As we noted at the beginning of this book, research shows that if we can
pay our bills and earn an average wage, the amount of income increase
after this has very little effect on happiness. People with more money are
only slightly happier and in fact when people get very rich their happiness
levels can actually reduce.
The cost of materialistic values
Several studies have found that the more materialistic people
are, the less happy and satisfied with life they are. They are also
more likely to be distressed, depressed, anxious, narcissistic, and
more unhealthy than people who are less materialistic.
Psychologist Tim Kasser highlights the cost of material values
not only to ourselves but to relationships. Materialistic people
172 brilliant positive psychology
are less empathetic and less generous and more likely to see
people as commodities to help them get on in life or to give them
the right social image. Being materialistic makes people much
more status conscious and we have seen that comparison with
others is detrimental to our well-being and happiness.
Remember the research quoted in the first chapter, that people
were happier after giving money away than spending it!
Decide to turn the television off and stop buying magazines, as
soaking up constant advertising messages feeds materialism.
Positive psychology is showing very clearly that happiness and
well-being are far more likely to result from attention to values
that are intrinsic to us and that spending money on ‘things’ that
have no meaning or deeper value is detrimental to our health.
Money matters; money pays for many valuable and meaningful
things, the things that give our life purpose. Without enough
money to pay for basic commodities it is much harder to
flourish. Money matters because poverty is without question
detrimental to health and well-being, but after we can afford to
pay the bills money starts to represent the values that we live by.
How do you value money?
Money enables me to buy what I want.
Money allows me to do more with my life.
Money allows me to care for those I love.
The more money people have and the more focused they are on
money the less able they are to savour things.
Find out what matters: Having purpose in your life 173
This chapter has dug a little deeper into what those needs really
are by exploring what you truly value and is meaningful to you.
By knowing better who you really are you will begin to have
much more purpose and direction in all aspects of your life.
The next chapter addresses the means by which you may find
the self-discipline and self-regulation to really flourish.
As we have seen in previous chapters, positive psychology is finding
that research increasingly reveals that happiness and well-being are
positively affected by being able to fulfil our needs and being free
to do so.
This chapter has been examining the idea that who you are reflects
what really matters to you and that you are more likely to flourish
when you are living authentically and meaningfully:
You have thought about what you value
Where your values originate
What you really care about
You have explored your life purpose and who you are when you
are truly authentic
You have looked at how you value money and what it means
to you.

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