More Than Money
Issue #33

Embracing The Gift

Table of Contents

“Money, Stress, and Happiness”

Eustress and Distress
Coming into money ought to be fun, happy, exciting, freeing-right? You just got a great new job with a big salary and lots of perks. You sold your business and are rolling in dough. You've inherited money and are set for life. So why aren't you happier?

The immediate answer could be stress. Eileen and Jon Gallo, authors of Silver Spoon Kids , explain that, "psychologists classify stress as either good stress, known as eustress , or bad stress, known as distress . Getting married, having a child, receiving a promotion at work, or winning the lottery are all examples of eustress; getting divorced, having your business fail, or mourning the death of a loved one are all examples of distress. Unfortunately, our bodies don't make these distinctions. Both good stress and bad stress are treated by our bodies as change, but our ability to cope is what determines how the stress affects us. If you have problems coping with the good stress from winning the lottery or taking on the responsibilities of marriage or children, your body will begin to exhibit sleep disruption, aches and pains, and other symptoms usually associated with bad stress." (From Silver Spoon Kids: How Successful Parents Raise Responsible Children by Eileen Gallo, Ph.D., and Jon Gallo, J.D., Contemporary Books, 2002)

Resources Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
The website of Gary Craig, creator of EFT, offers a free, downloadable instruction manual for EFT, which has been shown to be effective in relieving stress. Instructional videotapes are available for purchase.
http://www.emofree.com/
For anxiety and stress case histories, go to:
www.emofree.com/anx.htm

Stress Scale by Jon Seskevich
www.managestressnow.com/html/stress-scale.htm
Provides a checklist of life events that cause both positive and negative stress, to help you determine the amount of stress currently in your life.

Good Stress, Bad Stress: An Indispensable Guide to Identifying and Managing Your Stress by Barry Lenson (Marlowe & Company, 2002)

Does Money Make You Happier?

One study of two seemingly disparate groups of people- lottery winners and people who had received severe spinal cord injuries-produced a surprising finding: Initially, winners of the lottery experienced a rise in their feelings of happiness. However, after about three months, their happiness level dipped back down to their pre-win level. That may not be so surprising; after all, money doesn't buy happiness . . . However, the same study found that while people with spinal cord injuries initially experienced a dip in their happiness level, after about three months their feelings of happiness went back up to the level it had been prior to their injury.

This phenomenon has led some researchers to speculate that people have a "happiness set point"-a level of happiness that they are comfortable with and are able and willing to experience. A "positive" or "negative" life event may change the level of happiness people experience, but only temporarily. After a few months, it returns to "normal," whether someone has experienced a positive or negative event. The level experienced as "normal" differs by individual.

Some researchers consider an individual's "happiness set point" to be inborn, others consider it changeable. Dr. Pamela Gerloff, editor of More Than Money Journal and practitioner of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques, developed by Gary Craig. See Resources at left), is currently experimenting with a way to change individuals' "happiness set point" through the application of EFT. To participate in the informal exploratory study, please email or call 781- 648-0776. For other ways to change your happiness set point level, see:

"How to Get Happy" by Alice Lesch Kelly

"The Happiness Set Point: How and Why People Differ in their Average Feelings of Well Being" in Happiness: What Studies on Twins Show Us about Nature, Nurture, and the Happiness Set Point by Dr. David Lykken (Golden Books Publishing Co., June 2000)

Assess your own happiness level


© 1990-2005, More Than Money, All rights reserved