By in Mind and Money, Wealth | 11 comments

Random Musings about Happiness

When you’re done here, stop by  The Digerati Life and read my article, Buying Bonds? Effect of Interest Rates on Bond Value and Yield

I talk about money too much. First, I teach an Investments Class at a local university, main topic; investing to make more money. Next, I am a professional portfolio manager, main duties; managing investments to make more money. Finally, I’m a personal finance blogger, goal; to teach wealth building strategies.

When Money Talk isn’t Enough

I pepper my financial topics with values, life, and leisure and focus on “wealth in life“, which is not about money. Life is so much broader and richer than amassing dollars (euros, GB pounds etc.). So for today, I’m going to ramble about other things in that make life richer which have little to do with money. Included in this ramble is breaking research about how your emotions and feelings impact your life.

Work Less

My family has accused me of working too much, and they are right. The interesting dichotomy is that sometimes working less, yields greater productivity. Take a break, go for a walk, and come back totally inspired. Go to the mall, a park, or a coffee shop and free your mind. For me, the results are a certain calm and renewal. (Okay, the mall might be a bit of a stretch 🙂 ).

Improve Your Emotional Well Being

A recent Newsweek article, The New Science of Feelings, explains “Research finds the neural basis of your responses to life-and how you can change them.”  

The takeaway from this article was that emotional style comes from certain regions of the brain. The elements of emotional style including resilience, outlook, self-awareness, social intuition, attention, and sensitivity to context can determine how quickly you bounce back from advertisity, your overall outlook on life, how successful you are and your overall level of happiness. And these emotional tendancies are not stable, but can be changed. That is the shocker. Apparently, mindfulness meditation can help improve your emotional style and even help one recover from depression.

Focus totally and completely on the task at hand, and your emotional state can improve. Is this the secret to happiness? Probably not, but it is a start. Consider the research on resilience stating that those who bounce back from setbacks are better equipped to deal with life than those who don’t. One of my personal strategies is to pull my waundering mind back to the task at hand! This helps control the worries and what ifs.

Prioritize Pleasurable Activities

Don’t be afraid to have some fun, devote yourself to a hobby or pleasure. I gain tremendous satisfaction from art and design. A years subscription to a design magazine weighs in at about twenty bucks, for literally hours of enjoyment. I am still reading 5 year old magazines and enjoying them as much as the first time I opened the cover.

Stop Thinking About Yourself and Do Something for Someone Else

Think about giving back. It is really true that service offers the giver as much or more than the receiver. Don’t think in grand gestures, the smallest act of generosity can make a difference in your life and others. I’m usually uncomfortable talking about my commitment to service (does it make me sound self richeous?). Yet, I look for opportunities to brighten others’ days. Even a smile, an offer to help a neighbor, a few hours volunteering, or even just opening up your wallet can make a big difference.

One day when I was feeling down, I was at a new employee work mixer. Instead of focusing on “poor me and my insignificant problems”, I decided to reach out to the new employees and make them feel welcome. I pushed myself to reach out and focus on others. My outward attention totally twarted the “poor me” feeling I came in with.

Barb Across the Blogosphere

What makes your life fuller?

image credit; Ayham Al-Hawi


  1. Good points! Sometimes you need someone to point this out to you though. I find that I can easily spend 40-50 hours a week on the computer. I love blogging and searching for ideas for articles. Can I spend less time and still be productive? Yes! I am trying to spend less time and get the same results. My solution is work for shorter periods but more focused.


    February 29, 2012

  2. Prioritizing pleasure is something I always have trouble doing. I was rasied to always, always do work before play. It’s hard to go against that and put play first sometimes. I just have to remember to give myself permission. Luckily, a lot of what other’s consider work is actually play to me!

    Marie at FamilyMoneyValues

    February 29, 2012

  3. I agree with you about talking too much about money – it makes you seem full of yourself. The time I enjoy most is hanging out with my wife and walking the dog, so I try to make sure we do it nightly!

    Robert @ The College Investor

    February 29, 2012

  4. I don’t know how you find time for it all Barbara – you are a Superwoman!

    I’ve been taking daily office vacations: close my door and lock it. Lay down on the floor with headphones in and relaxation sounds playing. It helps me reclaim a piece of each day for me, even at work.

    Just doing this for 20 minutes helps me focus on what is important.

    I’m so burnt out at my job that I can’t tell if I’ve lost passion for work in general, or just need something new.

  5. @Krantc-I like the idea of trying to take lots of breaks and increase efficiency.
    @Marie-Me too…. Work first, fun second.This approach has it’s pros and cons.
    @Robert-I love the contentment that comes from walking outside. I pepper my day with long and short walks and try to slow down my brain.
    @John-That type of relaxation is so important. I’m practicing being in the moment as much as I can. It keeps me calm.


    March 1, 2012

  6. I won’t say it makes my life fuller, but to your point on prioritizing pleasurable activities… My wife and I make it a point to lay on the couch each night and watch television. Mostly sit-coms. Yeah, they’re pointless and sometimes stupid, but always good for a laugh. A great way to wind-down each day.

  7. I think you are handling the financial doldrums in a brilliant way Barbara. By focusing on others you are ‘sending the elevator back down’ and bonding with a new generation that will always remember your special attention and encouragement. There are advantages to being a specialiast, but having a variety of interests is healthy too. Excellent post!

    Hunter - Financially Consumed

    March 2, 2012

  8. Very good points. I am also reminded by my family that I work too much. As to talking about money, well at least I teach philosophy. But then, I have started puzzling over the financial implications of certain philosophical stance and the other way around. Thanks for making me think, anyway.


    March 2, 2012

  9. @Matt-TV is our evening relaxation activity. Although I love mysteries and cop shows!!
    @Hunter- That was such a “pump me up” comment. thank you 🙂
    @Maria- I’m honored to have made you think. Wow, philosophy, that’s a far cry from business :).


    March 2, 2012

  10. Great article! Sometimes in life we do lose focus on the important things. I find that I do this myself from time to time. Taking a break from it all is definitely necessary. I also like the point that you make about giving back. Whenever I give (in any capacity), I feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
    Thanks for the helpful pointers.

    Marie S

    March 8, 2012

  11. @Marie, I have to constantly pull myself back into “what’s really important in life.” So glad you enjoyed the article.


    March 8, 2012


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