Happiness and Finances

Marshall Rathmell |

I recently ran across an article in TIME called “Do Happy People Really Live Longer?” The article explains how the ongoing debate among experts about whether being happy makes people healthier centers around how various studies on the topic have been conducted.

As author Mandy Oaklander points out, "Happiness studies usually rely on self-reported data, which is by nature subjective. Beyond that, it's just difficult to navigate the channels of cause and effect, given the many factors that influence mood and health."

One study Oaklander sites caught my attention because it mentioned finances.

"Even after adjusting for factors like illness, finances and depression, [older] people who were the happiest still had a 35% lower risk of death [in the next five years].

The article goes on to take a look at how various emotional factors, such as stress, affect health. It serves to illustrate why I believe that while money can't buy happiness, a bad or uncertain financial picture can rob people of it. Financial concerns are a leading cause of stress, and the correlation between stress and all manner of disease is well documented.

One thing I've observed in my work with clients is that many people who aren't fully aware of the state of their finances carry a lot of stress, whether they're in a sound financial position or not. I've seen people who were in great financial shape suffering in their physical health because they weren't sufficiently acquainted with their finances to know they had no reason to worry!

If you aren't fully apprised of your financial situation, don't be afraid to find out what's going on. Being prepared can help you avoid a lot of worries, tension, and the health problems that come with them. Even if you pull your head out of the sand and find you are not in a good financial position, knowing where you stand can help alleviate stress and improve your health and happiness if you use your knowledge to make the changes needed to improve your situation.

-Sandra Cleveland-