A friend forwarded me a FANTASTIC article from Business 2.0 titled How to Lead a Rich Life. The article is a general exploration of what constitutes economic happiness for yuppy, educated, upper crusters like bloggers & their constituencies.
The average biz 2.0 reader has an annual income of $119K -- BUT:
Yet -- and I am certain of this too -- you don't feel rich (or even well-off). Money doesn't buy what it used to. A million bucks seems more like a living wage than a small fortune. Millionaires are a dime a dozen: There are nearly 5 million households in America with a net worth of at least $1 million. Even Joe Millionaire , reality TV's latest must-see phenom, needs a faux fortune of $50 million to impress the ladies. For the average Joe, a garden-suburb mortgage, private-school tuition, an SUV in the garage, and spring break in Vail can make a six-figure salary feel like almost nothing.
Well, a household worth of $1M ain't too shabby to me but I guess the point is that it feels so within reach of so many folks. So if finding happiness via wealth is subject to the red queen principle (e.g. what good is a Lexus as a differentiator if everyone's got one?), what are we to do? If riches don't bring happiness...
...The real story is that all signs point to the reverse: Happiness may help you get rich . In study after study, doing work that you love and having a great marriage and a fulfilling family life are all correlated with financial wealth. The tricky part is that you can't "get" happiness (sorry, Thomas Jefferson) by pursuing it. Put your eye on that prize, and you set yourself on the treadmill of ever-escalating aspirations.
fascinating, empirical discussion of the "early mid-life crisis":
...happiness over any given lifetime looks like a big U-curve. "You start out thinking that you're going to conquer the world," says Oswald. "Then you discover that it's tough out there and become dissatisfied. Happiness levels tend to bottom out around 30. Eventually, after 5 or 10 years, you come to terms with yourself. You learn to control your aspirations. After you've done that, it's easier to get steadily happier again."
I think Silicon Valley across the board is going through it's 30-something phase ;-). We are going to change the world but in our own little way. We aren't going to become Marc Andreeson, Yang & Filo, or even Sergei Brin but we will find something like it in our own little way.
The article has a fun profile of at least one class of consistently happy folks:
The most intensely held values of the Influentials can be grouped into three themes: strong relationships (with family, spouse or romantic partner, friends, and broader connections); personal integrity (honesty, authenticity, being true to yourself); and exploration (not adventure so much as knowledge, learning, open-mindedness, and creativity). At the bottom of the list of priorities? Impressing others, wealth, looking good, status, and power.
...Activism extends to the Influentials' work and personal lives as well. They are significantly more likely to view their job as a career than the average American, and half are at the center of the decision-making process in their jobs. They engage in a breadth of interests -- from reading, to cooking, to attending cultural events, to volunteering -- during their leisure time. The only thing that they don't do more of is watch TV.