Which game are you playing?
There are basically 2 games we can play, the finite game and the infinite game. The finite game has a set objective which you can complete and check off the list. The infinite game has no ending and is a series of evolving objectives.
I think a lot of frustration comes from trying to play the finite game when we live in an infinite world. People tell me all the time "I need X" or "I want to do Y and I'll be happy". Will you though? Why will it make you happy? And will that one event be satisfying for life? Or will the temporary joy if it fade and then you start another quest in search of temporary happiness?
I do the same thing. I think to myself all the time "if I had X amount of money" or "I wish I lived in Y city, then I would be happy" but would I? If I am "here" looking to "there" and I go "there" at what point does "there" become the new "here" and my search for a new "there" begins?
Now there are some factors which could increase happiness by making a move of that sort, such as improved economics, environment or social conditions of course. However, you still have to find a source of ongoing joy in that location or you may end up looking for the next patch of green grass before you know it.
I think this applies to all kinds of satisfaction, whether it is derived from work, social or economic standing you have to find a way to seek improvement, without stressing about hitting arbitrary goals. For instance I had a number I was saving to, but I've recently thrown it out. I did this because it was causing me too much stress, and I wasn't even sure it would accomplish the job it was supposed to. So instead I am choosing to play the infinite game with my finances instead of a short term finite game. My new theory is to just try my best, save, and whatever number I end up at, I end up at. And whatever time line that takes, it takes. As long as I am always making progress, always heading West.
(The reference of heading West is not just because I am from CA, but it was also mentioned in the first story for the Navigating Goals thread). Link: http://www.genyinvesting.com/navigating-goals/the-right-general-direction
Proper allocation of capital is crucial for any business. If a business fails to address problem areas or reallocate capitol from a depreciating asset, they may be stuck with a loss. The same theory applies to life. We are like a self-business walking around. We have goals and a finite amount of resources to achieve them. So like any business you need to choose how you allocate your personal capital.
This goes further then choosing how to spend your paycheck (but that is very important!). It means you have to decide the best use of your time, energy, and thoughts. If something is using your time with minimal return, is it worth it? If it doesn't make you happy or line your pocket then what are you doing?
It's about trying to use your resources in the most efficient way possible. Spending time watching Netlix? Why? Is that bringing you closer to the people you love? Is it improving that summer time six pack? Is it making you smarter? (Okay, the TEDtalks are pretty informative). Is it making you money? If not, then you should focus fire on activities that improve the important areas of your life. A lot of people relax to get rid of stress. But what caused that stress? Go find the culprit, neutralize it. That's how you get happier, not binge watching shows or burying your problems in a bottle of scotch.
Overall, just try to make strategic moves that address core issues, the small stuff will fall in line. Always allocate your capital in the most effective way.
Or will it? I do not personally think that money buys happiness. Instead, money creates the opportunities for happiness. For instance, if I had no money then I would not be able to go home for Christmas and that would make me sad. However, since I have enough money to visit family, I do and that makes me happy. So, does money create happiness? No, not in my opinion. But it certainly allows you to create favorable conditions under which you may find it easier to be happy.
What else can we do with money to feel happy? Have you ever bought yourself a new toy and it kind of made you smile? Well then you could say that having the money to do that made you happy. And it’s true, in the moment that it could have improved your morale, but that is a fleeting feeling. So what else can you do with money to be happy? You can be generous. Here was my most current dilemma, there is a new gadget coming out that I would like to buy, but I'm not sure what it's value is. The sticker say's $499, but that's a price not a value. Sure this could replace one of my other gadgets, but mine already works so why allocate resources there? Instead, I could invest that money in myself, or better yet, give some of it to someone who needs it. I guess we should chase fulfillment instead of happiness.