Richard G. Petty, MD

Money Doesn’t Make You Happy!

“Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life.”
–Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor and Philosopher, A.D.121-180)

I recently wrote about a common myth: thinking that there is a connection between income level, health and longevity. Once you have passed a certain low threshold, this connection between income and health does not hold. Quite obviously living in abject poverty in the Horn of Africa or on the streets of New York is associated with all manner of physical and psychological challenges, but once people have reached a certain economic level there are other far more important determinants of health. We cannot use longevity as a justification for capitalism!

We now have a new piece of research that is also intuitively obvious: there is no link between wealth and happiness. You have only to look at the unhappy lives of so many people in the public eye to see that for yourself, and you have probably seen it in people around you. Many wealthy people are profoundly unhappy and some get into substance abuse or other high-risk activities.

Why should this be? People often tend to exaggerate the contribution of income to happiness because they focus on conventional achievements when evaluating their life or the lives of others.

Like success, happiness is subjective.

When taking stock of your life, it is a really good idea to try and score your levels of happiness, balance and satisfaction along five dimensions: physical, psychological, social, subtle and spiritual. In the book and CD program Healing, Meaning and Purpose, I give some very precise ways of doing that. There’s not much point in living in a big house on a hill, if you are rattling around in it on your own. What contribution are you making? And what will be your legacy?

“Happiness is the very nature of the Self; happiness and the Self are not different. There is no happiness in any object of the world. We imagine through our ignorance that we derive happiness from objects. When the mind goes out, it experiences misery. In truth, when its desires are fulfilled, it returns to its own place and enjoys the happiness that is the Self.”
–Ramana Maharshi (Indian Hindu Mystic and Spiritual Teacher, 1879-1950)

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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