Ask Your Father These Questions on Father’s Day

Linda Migliazzo |

It’s an old question: Can money buy happiness? Up to a point, yes. But without deep personal relationships, more dollars don’t make you happy.

On Father’s Day, consider talking with your dad about happiness and satisfaction. And if your father is no longer with us, consider talking to an older person you love. Try these simple questions:

“Dad, looking back at your life, are you satisfied?”

“Dad, what creates happiness?”

The Importance of Setting Goals

You will likely talk about setting and reaching goals, life timelines and the aged Polonius’s lessons for his son, Laertes (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3), such as: “Keep close friends, don’t lie, “neither a borrower nor a lender be” and “to thine ownself be true.”

You might talk about the many categories of goals and about the tendency in our culture for our life goals to devolve into financial ones.

The reality is that we want to spend money on stuff and experiences. We want a comfortable and fun retirement, want to send our kids and grandkids to quality schools. We want great, or at least decent, health care in our last years. These things cost money, more and more money all the time until our life plan becomes our financial plan.

Don’t Be Measured by Money

Sadly, we lose sight of the experiences and the education and mark our milestones as expenses we can afford, sacrifices we have to make or trade-offs we willingly accept. This is exacerbated by a University of Michigan study that maintained that money does in fact buy happiness and riches do buy satisfaction in life. Plus, happiness and satisfaction increase with wealth.

“Studies by us and others have pointed to a robust positive relationship between well-being and income across countries and over time,” the researchers exclaim. It seems happiness in life does come down to cash.

This attitude is dangerous, even paradoxical. The more about money life becomes, the less real-life satisfaction we take. When the goal is enough money for our children’s education, we justify working longer hours instead of coming home and reading to them. When the goal is a big income for us and our spouse’s retirement, we work weekends instead of spending time with the spouse. We sacrifice the certainty now to afford the mere possibility later.

Money is important, but why let it measure us? We need to make life about the amount and quality of time with our loved ones. If we make this change – push money aside in favor of the four pillars of life satisfaction: health, expertise, relationships and giving back (not necessarily in that order) – we can be happier and meet with greater life satisfaction than if we simply measure ourselves financially against our peers, neighbors or relatives.

How Do You Measure Happiness?

According to the golfer character Ty Webb in Caddyshack, we don’t have to measure ourselves at all:

Judge Smails: Ty, what did you shoot today?

Ty Webb: Oh, Judge, I don't keep score.

Judge Smails: Then how do you measure yourself with other golfers?

Ty Webb: By height.

Except life isn’t about your height or bank statements or the color of ribbon you won, but about your relationships with the people you love and your contribution, not just to an individual retirement account, but to the world around you.


Happy Father’s Day.



This article was prepared by RSW Publishing.

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