Archives for posts with tag: happiness

In his bookFlow: The Psychology of Optimal Enjoyment, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says, ¨Twenty-three hundred years ago Aristotle concluded that, more than anything else, men and women seek happiness. While happiness itself is sought for its own sake, every other goal – health, beauty, money, or power – is valued only because we expect that it will make us happy.¨

In our current economic paradigm, the goal is seemingly to accrue financial wealth, or to at least gain a sense of fiscal security so that we may go about the business of then attaining happiness. Though it has largely been proven that money cannot buy happiness, we are still somehow predisposed to seeking after this illusory currency in a madcap attempt to prove it for ourselves. Nevertheless, it is becoming abundantly clear, based upon our economic instability, that we need to redirect our focus from the acquisition of money to the realization of happiness. The system of time-banking is proving itself to be a worthwhile tool in doing just that.

Time Dollars aren’t a substitute for money,¨ says Edgar Cahn. ¨They are a way to do things that money can’t do and to claim back the realm of community that money has invaded.”

While there is a certain sense of satisfaction in accruing monetary success and being able to purchase whatever one may need, it can hardly compare to the sense of security one gains in having a supportive community where those needs are met simply through participating in the community. Money does cultivate an individual´s independence and can often ensure the fulfillment of security needs, however, it does not offer the same depth of fulfillment that one may find in an interdependent community which meets those basic needs and goes beyond them to also cultivate the belongingness and love that human beings require.

When we cease to use money as our only ruler,¨ Cahn continues, ¨we begin to realize that we live in a world of two economies, not just one. One is the formal marketplace measured by-and consisting mainly of-monetary transactions. This is the realm of supermarkets and shopping centers, offices and factories that the media calls economy. The other economy is the informal networks of helping in families, neighborhoods, volunteer groups, and the like.”

Time-banking offers the possibility to move beyond the paradigm of competitive capitalism and into the realm of collaborative participation. By encouraging people to participate in their community development rather than simply throwing money at it, citizens are able to gain a greater sense of fulfillment, and thereby a greater measure of happiness, because they become part of something greater than themselves.

This is uncharted economic territory,¨ Cahn says, ¨a currency that makes people feel good about themselves for helping others.”

When all is said and done, don´t we all just want to feel good?

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Advertisements

We´ve become so used to the convenience of being able to exchange with strangers that we have largely become strangers to one another. The problem with basing our economy on money alone is that money it is not only a means of exchange. It is also a commodity in itself. Unfortunately, the other problem is that in order to make more of this money the way that the monetary addicts want to, we need to use other commodities, such as natural resources that could be directed toward greater use than merely the development of yet another limited resource.

With an economic system based on money, the theory is that if we can make our GDP bigger, then it appears that the economy is getting better, therefore, ipso facto, our households must be stronger. However, the abyssmal downside to that is that it´s just an illusion. The GDP has nothing to do with how strong our households are. It has nothing to do with how safe we are, how secure we are, how sustainable we are, and it most definitely has nothing to do with how happy we are.

Even Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve said recently and on more than on occasion, that we need to start respecting our Gross Domestic Happiness and making it a greater factor in our operations. This GDH is an untapped part of our economy that, if accounted for and properly valued, offers conduits of wealth unimaginable through mere monetary restraints.

In actuality, according to Nobel prize winning economist Gary Becker, the monetary system only accounts for 60% of the actual economy. The rest is the voluntary participation that makes life possible, the energy reciprocated through the natural symbiosis of individual, family, and community. This is the part of the economy that time banking is designed to account for, value, and cultivate.

To do that effectively, we must empower people to reach their highest potential by following their bliss and finding where the servies they offer through their bliss meet the needs of the community. In the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Enjoyment, Mihaly Cszcknsentmihaly writes:

Despite the fact that we are now healthier and grow to be older, despite the fact that even the least affluent among us are surrounded by material luxuries undreamed of even a few decades ago, and regardless of all the stupendous scientific knowledge we can summon at will, people often end up feeling that their lives have been wasted, that instead of being filled with happiness their years were spent in anxiety and boredom.

Happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power command. It does not depend on outside events, but, rather, on how we interpret them. Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultured, and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.

Yet we cannot reach happiness by consciously searching for it. “Ask yourself whether you are happy.” said J.S. Mill, “and you cease to be so.” It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly. “Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue . . . as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.” – Victor Frankl.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.