Howard column: Open the doors to freedom of choice
As we embrace 2017, we have set goals, resolutions of intentions for change.
The tradition of looking forward into the new year with resolve dates back to 153 B.C. January is named after Janus, a god with two faces. One looked forward and the other backward. The Romans practiced forgiving the wrongdoing of the previous year and believed, if gifts were given and promises made, the year ahead would be blessed.
Today, we continue to resolve to do things differently, set goals or create intentions for the year to unfold. From the Romans to modern day, I believe the reason this practice has endured is our quest to attain well-being or happiness. Inherent in this quest is cautionary counsel lest we head down a path of frustration and emptiness.
Experts in the fields of economics, public policy, psychology, health and more produce the World Happiness Report, which delves into the science of happiness on a personal and national level. Freedom to make life choices, strong social support, longevity, generosity, equality of happiness with others and a rising GDP are among the factors contributing to personal and national well-being. Surprise — it’s not just about money. More money does not equate to well-being or happiness. It is what you do with what you have, no matter the amount, that will pilot you in the right direction.
How do you want to set an intentional financial flow in order to create true wealth and well-being? How do you generate more life choices? You can’t buy freedom with the bondage of debt. It isn’t about more stuff that needs to be cared for, insured and stored. Living below your means, eliminating consumer debt, saving and investing for future needs will open the doors to freedom of choice.
How do you develop strong social structures? Norway ranks as the fourth happiest country. “In Norway, it’s quite common for people to paint each other’s houses even though they can all afford to pay to have their houses painted,” said Helliwell, a report co-editor and co-director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. “They go out of their way to help each other, and it becomes a social event, and those events are enormously supportive of well-being,” Helliwell said. “In the commercialization of activity — when people are more likely to buy things than to do them for themselves and each other — we lose something along the way.”
We seem to have gotten off the track here. How many times have we fallen into the mindset, “I will be happier if I make more money in order to pay someone to paint my house?” This one requires us to change our perspectives and revisit the idea of what community truly means. Picture the Amish barn raisings. It may also require us to ask for help. I know I struggle with that one. There is a wide array of ways to build community that involves using money we actually have with people we appreciate, doing the things that bring us joy.
How do we use our resources to increase longevity? Again, within safe financial boundaries, you eat healthy food, get the proper exercise and minimize stress. There is a lot of financial stress out there — take steps to address and minimize it. You will also need to prepare for your longevity financially. How much is enough?
Contentment and a mindset of abundance are the keys to becoming more generous. When you are happy with what you have, you are free to share with others. This unleashes the equalization of happiness. In your giving, how do you teach others to fish instead of giving them a fish? How do we raise others up to their potential instead of keeping them entrenched in a demoralizing, victimized realm?
An increase in GDP is a factor of national output and income. It will rise organically if we are bringing money into our life with integrity, dignity, competency, care and joy as well as when we spend within safe boundaries and joyful intention.
May 2017 be filled with everything you resolve to. Liberate yourself from the year past, forgive and move on. As you look at your goals, intentions and resolutions, keep in mind the financial implications and what it means to fully live in well-being and happiness. You can download my financial affirmations at http://www.wealthbydesign4u.com.
Danielle Howard is a certified financial planner practitioner. Her office, Wealth By Design LLC, is in Basalt. Visit her at http://www.wealthbydesign4u.com. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc., a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.
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