The price we pay for a bigger home, nicer automobiles, or vacation is often a more demanding work life.  Some people choose to work harder in order to acquire more “things.”  Working more hours and working harder during those hours can result in greater stress, breakdown in family life, and a decrease in leisure time.  We have seen a decline of character that can be traced to conditions that have grown out of our fast-paced, high-stress, information-driven economy.  Many people are no longer connected to their past, to their neighbors, and to themselves.

Sometimes we struggle to achieve a certain economic goal only to discover that once we got what we wanted it didn’t fulfill us in the way we had hoped.  We are a nation of hyper consumers, “living way beyond our means and seemingly helpless to save ourselves,” according to Geoffrey Covin, money does not create or sustain happiness.  Happiness comes from social relationships, enjoyable work, fulfillment, a sense that life has meaning, and most importantly the Joy we have in having a Father in heaven who loves us beyond measure.

The way we choose to earn, save, and spend our money determines, in large measure, the quality of our lives.  For example, if you think that having more money is going to produce happiness or peace of mind, will you ever earn enough?

Jacob Needleman, author of Time and the Soul, has stated:  “Culturally and individually, somewhere in our history, we chose to make material possessions important, not realizing that we would pay for all these things—consumer goods, improvements, technology—at the cost of our time.”

Survey after survey has shown that unhappy people tend to be self-focused, socially withdrawn, and even aggressive.  Happy people, in contrast, are generally found to be more sociable, flexible, and creative and are able to tolerate life’s daily frustrations more easily than unhappy people.  Michael Crom views enthusiasm as an energy builder and as the key to overcoming adversity and achieving goals.  Most psychologists, in general, agree that happiness or unhappiness at any given moment has very little to do with the conditions around us, but rather with how we perceive our situation, how satisfied we are with what we have.  You can achieve a higher level of happiness by reflecting on the good things you have received in life.  Optimists are more likely to view problems as merely temporary setbacks on their road to achieving their goals.  They focus on their potential success rather than on their failures.

Soon after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, many people began to reexamine their values.  Some decided to spend more time with family and friends, thinking that although overtime might be an opportunity to make more income, it was also an obstacle to maintaining a commitment to their family.  Some workers also decided that their work and spend lifestyle no longer made any sense.  Instead of being very driven and motivated to acquire things, people said, “Maybe I don’t need all this stuff.”