By FPA member, Paula C. Nangle, CFP®
Last Updated: April 8, 2013
We all read and hear the economists talk about Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator of our economic well-being. One of the concerns some people have with GDP is that it measures only one thing –money. There is a growing international movement to use a more multi-faceted measure of a country’s health: Gross National Happiness (GNH). GNH evolved over 40 years ago in the small country of Bhutan in the Himalayas.
According to Gross National Happiness USA, a 501©3 non-profit organization, “GNH is based on the premise that the calculation of “wealth” should consider other aspects besides economic development: The preservation of the environment and the quality of life of the people. The goal of a society should be the integration of material development with psychological, cultural, and spiritual aspects – all in harmony with the Earth.” The GNH index measures nine domains of happiness, examples of which include satisfaction with life, material well-being, community, education, social support, time balance, physical health and psychological well-being.
Scientific research and studies have shown happy individuals to be more successful in multiple aspects of life. Author Tal Ben-Shahar of bestseller book Happier says “All else being equal, happy people have better relationships, are more likely to thrive at work, and also live better and longer.” In his book he offers principles and practices that can readily be applied to your daily life and can help you feel happier. One example from the book is expressing gratitude. He suggests you write down, each day, at least five things that make you happy or for which you are grateful. This is a ritual I started with my family at dinner. The responses range from serious “my family” to silly “Sponge Bob”, which is part of the richness and fun of the practice.
You may be wondering what this has to do with financial planning. As someone who practices Financial Life Planning®, my focus is on helping individuals create the most meaningful lives possible. My process involves understanding your values and priorities and helping you use your resources to increase your sense of financial well-being and life satisfaction. Your wealth is not just your net worth – it is multi-faceted, like GNH! It includes things like your health, relationships, your home and community, and your inner growth. How you choose to spend your time and money will increase your Gross Personal Happiness (GPH) - when your actions are in alignment with what brings meaning and purpose to your life.
Take some time to re-discover your meaning and purpose. Ask yourself: What is most important in my life? Are my actions in line with my meaning and purpose? Frame your goals in a way that connects them to your meaning and purpose and then make financial decisions to support those goals.
April 13th is Pursuit of Happiness Day (and March 20th was International Happiness Day). Mark your calendars and come on, get happy!
FPA member Paula C. Nangle, CFP® provides Financial Life Planning® to families, executives, and women in transition with the Marshall Financial Group in Doylestown, Pennsylvania; a fee-only wealth management firm. Paula currently serves as President-Elect of the Philadelphia Tri-Area Chapter of FPA. She holds an MBA in Marketing, Management and International Business from New York University, where she served as adjunct faculty member at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, teaching financial planning and wealth management.