Who wouldn’t be happy to have more money? To pay the credit card or buy that necessary piece of furniture. Yet the sheer wealth of the ‘big fish’ running big business in the UK has amazed us. By October 2011, FTSE 100 company director pay packages had increased 49% in a single year. The average figure had then become £2,697,644.

The total rewards of the CEOs of these companies were even higher. Forbes magazine reported that the ratio of their earnings to that of the average UK employee increased from 45:1 in 1998 to 120:1 in 2010.

Some might wish you well in your good fortune. Who wouldn’t enjoy having a big yacht, a fancy place to live, a fast car, and no money worries? But is it correct to assume that a happy life requires wealth? That having a lot of money is the solution to common frustrations and stress?

Self-Awarded Rewards and the Question of a Happy Life

In Britain, politicians who voted themselves high pay rises caused public unrest. This soon turned to outrage when we discovered that many of them had been amassing small fortunes in expenses for themselves. All at a time when the average standard of living was being severely reduced.

This desire for wealth shows with a stitch in boardrooms, as directors have granted their own pay raises by succumbing to the temptations of wealth.

We all thought that shareholders owned the company and determined who got paid what. Also that the executives manage it to develop a more successful enterprise on a stable base. But this seems to have changed. Companies have grown. Shareholders are now widely dispersed. Consequently, it has become a lack of external control over the pay of top managers.

“The actual controllers of the company would take the profits into their own pockets, direct profitable business to other companies controlled by themselves, and give themselves handsome salaries.” (Ferdinand Mount, political commentator)

What has surprised us is the shameless way in which senior managers in numerous incidents have abused their power. They have gotten more out of the company even when its performance has been mediocre at best. The same has happened in large public bodies.

Chasing the illusion of a happy life?

Getting big pay raises, despite the resulting social approval, indicates a strong belief that wealth will make you happy. It’s a pretty common attitude. However, is the search for wealth really the search for an illusion? It would seem so. Study after study by psychologists has shown no association between wealth and happiness. The exceptions are when housing costs are a large proportion of income requiring long hours of work and cases of poverty when additional income alleviates hunger and suffering.

Even more initial is the research showing that the pursuit of money is not only wrong, but also dangerous. Psychology professor Tim Kasser found that extremely wealthy people are not significantly happier than people with average incomes and suffer from higher levels of depression.

Carolyn Gregoire, writing in The Huffington Post, cites research that found that when both partners are materialistic, couples have a poorer quality marital relationship. There are also findings that students with higher materialistic values ​​tend to have lower quality relationships and feel less connected to others.

What then leads to a happy life?

Researchers in positive psychology have found that a true sense of personal well-being comes from good relationships, meaningful and challenging activities, and a sense of connection to something larger than ourselves, such as a religion, political or social cause, or a sense of mission. .

All of us can crave money. According to transpersonal psychologist Steve Taylor, difficulties do not fuel the appetite for wealth and material goods. Instead, our internal discontent causes it. I would say that an inner selfish state of mind creates this discontent. In other words, what makes us happy is something non-materialistic, in the depths of our being.

Angelic state and happy life

In his books, the mystic writer Emanuel Swedenborg tries to put into words some of his limited experience of bliss in what he calls an ‘angelic state’ of peace, contentment and joy. He says that being deeply happy implies several things.

  • A loving attitude towards other people. The highest form this takes is wanting to give what is one’s own to others.

Those who are moved by mutual love are constantly approaching the spring of their youth… This process goes on forever, constantly bringing increases in joy and happiness.(Emmanuel Swedenborg)

  • Conscious participation in the present moment. Neither worrying about the past nor worrying about the future leads to happiness. In other words, having a genuine concern for someone takes us away from our bodily and worldly interests and lifts our minds to heaven and thus away from the things that belong to time.

  • Freedom from feeling self-centered. Instead of being guided by one’s own desires, happiness comes from identifying with one’s true Self. This means innocently trusting something beyond one’s false self. It is about following thoughts according to our image of what is supremely good. Swedenborg points out that this can only come from not falling into the illusion that one is separate and autonomous.

According to this third point, I believe that my good intentions and insights are not mine. Instead, your spiritual Source inspires you in my heart and head.

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