In the world we live in today, how does one get to happy? What does being happy really mean? As human beings, we look for happiness in all sort of ways, oftentimes in all the wrong places. We go from job to job, relationship to relationship and move from town to town. We try alcohol, illicit sex and drugs. Unfortunately, none of these things work so we end up with great frustration. What is the true source of happiness?

Joy is often used as a synonym for happiness but the two are quite different. Joy is a consistent feeling that is cultivated internally. You have joy when you have peace with who you are and what you are about. Joy comes from living a life that is filled with purpose. On the other hand, happiness is driven by external circumstances - people, money, places, events, what you think and how you act. The dictionary describes happiness as contentment, pleasure, satisfaction, cheerfulness, joyfulness, gladness and delight. Whether joy or happiness, the fact is we all want an abundance of these two feelings in our lives.

Unfortunately, lasting happiness is not that easy to acquire. According to a research by Pew Research Center, in 2006, just a third (34%) of adults in America say they’re very happy,  another half say they are pretty happy and 15% consider themselves not too happy. These numbers have remained very stable for a very long time even though the average American's income has tripled from a buying power perspective since 1956. So, what is the true nature of the relationship between money and happiness?

We all know the old adage, "Money does not bring happiness." While this may be true to some degree, I am learning that believing this exclusively may be erroneous. Granted, money does not always guarantee happiness but it is a fact that money and happiness are definitely linked. Research surveys shows that nearly half (49%) of those with an annual family income of more than $100,000 say they’re very happy. By contrast, just 24% of those with an annual family income of less than $30,000 say they’re very happy. Money will not cause happiness but there is a well-proven and obvious correlation between the two.

If money does not cause happiness, what does? True happiness, even though influenced by external circumstances, can only be found via our state of minds and the way we choose to live. We become filled with happiness by the way we interpret the things that happen to us and how we choose to interpret those events. Making a conscious decision to live with integrity, treat others with decency and respect; to live a disciplined, purposeful and principled life can go a long way in boosting our levels of happiness.

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