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Sunday, July 02, 2006

What price happiness?

You don't need millions to be happy. At The Happiness Institute in Australia, a couple of hundred dollars may do the trick.
Since the institute opened its doors this year, men and women of all ages have been paying A0 an hour (US0) for lessons in how to feel great.
Businesses are spending as much as A,000 on half-day happiness workshops for their staff.
"You can actually increase your happiness levels. That's what we teach," said Timothy Sharp, founder of institute, which also offers group sessions from A a head.
"We take people from zero and try to put a positive in their happiness bank account. You don't have to settle just for OKness. It's no more OK than having a zero bank balance. You can have a lot more," Sharp said.
Experts say only about 15 percent of happiness comes from income, assets and other financial factors. As much as 90 percent comes from elements such as attitude, life control and relationships.
"If you're not a natural in any of these areas you can learn to get a lot better at them," Sharp said.
The Happiness Institute is part of what U.S. economist Paul Zane Pilzer calls the "Wellness Revolution."
In his book of the same name, Pilzer says the next trillion-dollar industry after cars and information technology will be in preventative businesses that help people find peace, health and happiness.
While most of us are significantly better off financially than our parents and grandparents, happiness levels haven't changed to reflect that.
Studies show that once the basic needs of shelter and food are met, additional wealth adds very little to happiness.
Even investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein has warned not to "equate money with happiness."
"A vast array of individuals seriously overrate the importance of money in making themselves, and others, happy," said strategist James Montier in a recent memo to clients.
"Since the 1950s, people's happiness levels have been remarkably constant despite a massive growth in income-per-head over the same time horizon," he said.


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