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Daniel Goleman: The Real Reasons Happiness Has Nothing To Do With Money

Daniel Goleman: The Real Reasons Happiness Has Nothing To Do With Money by Daniel Goleman

To break a long journey by car, the Dalai Lama had been invited for lunch by a wealthy family. Using their bathroom, he noticed that the medicine cabinet over the sink was open.

He couldn’t help but notice the cabinet was full of pain killers, sleeping pills and tranquilizers.

The Dalai Lama told me this tale when I interviewed him for my new book A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for our World, adding,

“Many people feel money is the source of a happy life. Money is necessary, useful—but more and more money does not bring happiness.”

Indeed, if people have enough income to handle life’s necessities (about $70,000 per year for the average family), studies find that additional money accounts for about one percent of their life satisfaction.

So what makes the difference when it comes to our feelings of well-being? Some definitive answers come from the work of Richard Davidson and his group at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, located at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. When I visited there recently he recapped research he had done for the United Nations’ annual report on happiness.

Based on new data revealing the interplay between the brain’s prefrontal areas, which manage our emotions, and the mid-brain areas like the amygdala that generate feelings like anger and anxiety, Davidson found these robust bases for the kind of happiness in life that has nothing to do with wealth:

The good news: these brain-based keys to well-being can be strengthened. One direct route lies in practicing mindfulness and a compassionate attitude. As Davidson says, well-being is a skill we all can get better at.

Daniel Goleman - A Force for Good

A Force for Good print/ebook and audiobook for will be available June 23, 2015.

Sign up here to learn more about the Join a Force for Good initiative.

Register for my talk about A Force for Good on June 25 in Arlington, VA here.

Additional reading:

Wise Leaders Focus on the Greater Good

What the Dalai Lama Taught Me About Emotional Intelligence

More Companies Can Do Well While Doing Good

Research: The Key Ingredient to Genuine Happiness