Social Connection Builds Worth Beyond Wealth
Every year tens of thousands of people seek the professional support and guidance from psychologists. They search for happiness and to improve the overall quality of their lives. Many of these people are very “successful” by financial standards, yet they believe something is missing…and they are usually correct. They make the mistake of defining “happiness” as the accumulation of financial wealth. In this article, I will explain why financial wealth alone seldom predicts happiness.
The Two Factors of ‘Happiness’
Extrapolating from the science of human motivation, I propose that in order to be truly “happy” you must satisfy two sets of “needs.” First, you must satisfy those “needs” in your life that when absent lead to distress and unhappiness. Said another way, these are the things required to avoid “unhappiness.” Second, you must satisfy the “needs” that actually build happiness. While these things may sound very similar, they are not. And therein lies the trap.
People too often believe that once they satisfy the needs of their lives, they will be happy. This is an illusion. Satisfying the needs that avoid unhappiness achieves only that. While they may provide a sense of relief, perhaps even a sense of safety, they fail to create real happiness. Financial security can create comfort. But money alone does not create lasting happiness. How many people have been dismayed by the realization that once achieving financial security, the happiness they thought would be achieved remained elusive? The reality is financial wealth alone does not create happiness. Once achieved, you must then satisfy the second set of needs which directly build true happiness.
Friendship Adds to Your Wealth and Your Worth
So, what does it take to build happiness? Financial capital is certainly important as noted, but how about the social capital that is true friendship? Science tells us your connections to others will be the single best predictor of your ability to bounce back from crisis and adversity. But more than that, pleasures shared are pleasures multiplied, while problems shared are problems diminished.
In the search for true friendship, never confuse friendship with acquaintanceship. You likely have many acquaintances. They are easy to acquire, especially if you are financially successful. But how many true friends do you have? Here is a simple way to tell the difference. Simply said, regardless of the situation, who would have your back? And who would defend you when you are not there to defend yourself?
Just as you would make investments to build your financial capital, so too must you make investments to build your social capital. It has been said that you are lucky if you have two true friends. If you have three good friends, you are wealthy indeed. Making friends sometimes takes effort. Making friends often takes courage, for when you reach out to another, there will always be a chance of rejection. At times when such courage is needed, simply remember that anything worth having is worth failing for. But in the search for true friends, never surrender your happiness to the whims of others. Subtle confidence is attractive. Desperation is not.
It has been said that a true friend is one who takes a hand and touches a heart. When you leave this life, your financial wealth can make you remembered, but the hearts you’ve touched will be make you immortal.