First Person: How Helping My Teens Find Happiness Pays Off

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A new study shows that happier teens tend to have higher incomes by the time they turn 29. With two teenage sons, I was curious to read more about the study that was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to an article by the Los Angeles Times, the study looked at Americans at ages 16, 18 and 22. The teens that were deeply unhappy had incomes at age 29 that were 30 percent lower than the average. Meanwhile, very happy teens earned 10 percent more than average teens. I'm not sure that money can buy happiness, but happiness obviously plays a role in achieving financial security.

Teaching teens to be self-reliant

Like most parents, I want my children to grow up to be independent. Most people have a difficult time being happy if they hate their jobs. I encourage my children to find careers they will like that are also practical. I've always believed that it's pointless to spend an entire life working at something that is boring, although sometimes a person has to do what she or he has to do to make ends meet.

Factoring in the different variables

It's interesting to me that happiness was the major determining factor in how much a young adult earned. The study also looked at factors such as self-esteem, education, height, intelligence and confidence levels. The study even went so far as to study siblings with the same exact socioeconomic background. The happier siblings made more money.

Teaching children to be kind

People who give more end up making more. Researchers say individuals who spend money on other people are happier. Being kind also bring the giver as much happiness as the receiver. I was proud of my teenager when he told me how he gave a waitress a generous $20 tip one day and a kind note because he observed other customers putting her down.

Getting people back to work

According to recent reports on Fox News, the jobless rate dipped to 7.7 percent. Some researchers believe that low unemployment is more important than low inflation when it comes to boosting the happiness levels of the everyday person. Depressed economics could become more robust if individuals had more opportunities to work. I'm always bothered when conservatives talk negatively about people who, they say, want a hand out. Most people don't want a hand out. They want a hand to help them up. They are more than willing to work. For our society, the real challenge is to get people back working at meaningful jobs that make them happy. Maybe we can avoid an economic depression if we each find happiness in what we do with our time.

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