By Darshan Goswami, M.S., P.E., Pittsburgh, PA 

A lot of people share a fairly common misconception. They believe that having lots of money can make you happy. Some even say that the more money you have, the happier you can be. Others believe that having money is not spiritually or socially acceptable, and that money is the root cause of all evil. Are any of these beliefs really true? To answer this question, begin by asking yourself, what does money mean to you, and how do you treat it when you have it?

Depending on how it is used, money can create powerful, positive changes in the world. Having money allows us to function more easily in the world, provide comfort in our lives and in the lives of others. However, because attachment to money is based on fear, it always creates insecurity. The desire to have more money, and thereby feel more secure, never ends. Security can never come from money alone. Some of the people who have the most money are also the most insecure. Does this mean you must give up the desire to attain wealth? Not necessarily. In and of itself money is neither good nor bad. It is what we choose to do with money that determines if it will have a positive effect on others, society, the world, and ourselves.

Like many, you probably think achievements such as education, marriage, family and status make a person happy. Studies of happiness in several countries have found that, while money makes these achievements more attainable, it has little to do with happiness (except among the very poor) when compared to an individual's characteristic sense of well being. Some psychologists believe happiness is genetic. Other scientists say they may have located an important area of the brain where happiness is generated.

While these ideas are debated, we don't have to wait to begin discovering happiness within ourselves. Each of our lives is sprinkled with ample opportunities for discovering happiness. Search for the small things that give you a little laugh or a smile. Take time to be with your family and friends. In the long run, these are the treasures that will enhance your happiness, not some grand achievements that give you a lift for a short while. Money alone will not make you happy.

Realize now that true happiness results from sharing generously of yourself, your mind, emotion and spirit, with all those who come in contact with you. Be an optimist. Do kind deeds for others. Explore the deeper resources within you by praying to God from your heart. Through sincere prayer and mindful meditation you will attain the highest achievement in life - the discovery of your eternal happiness with God. So, you must choose. Money? Happiness? It is extremely rare that you can have both.

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