Home Audio 010: Can Money Buy Me Happiness?

010: Can Money Buy Me Happiness?

by Dr Hans Watson
University Elite Mental Health
University Elite Mental Health
010: Can Money Buy Me Happiness?

In this episode we talk with Alex Runolfson of Bloom Recovery in SLC, Utah, about the role money plays in our happiness.  If you like what Alex has to say, you can find more at https://bloom-recovery.com/

JF 00:01:10 Welcome everyone to another podcast with university of leap, mental health podcast, dr. Hans Watson, and a special guest today, Dr. Alex.  Dr. Alex, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself, your practice for everyone. Hello, I’m Alex I’m owner and operator of bloom recovery in salt Lake city, Utah, where we specialize in trauma anxiety in peak performance. We have specialties in financial therapy as well as some other areas. So I’m really happy to be here. Very excited. Great. Let’s go. Wonderful to have you, Alex. Thanks for being on the show today as always wonderful to have the expert elite, dr. Hans Watson. And today we are going to be addressing a question. That is a question that you’ve probably heard a lot of times. And, I don’t know, I I’ve grown up kind of indoctrinated with the answer to this question. So I didn’t really feel like this was a question for anyone anymore, but, uh, the question is can money buy me happiness?
JF 00:02:10 I’ve always been taught money can not buy you happiness. And so, it surprised me a little bit that that is a question, but when you look at people’s behavior, you see that definitely people are still questioning that they, they don’t behave as if they’ve made their minds on, on that. And so we’re going to jump into that today. I’m excited to hear from the experts what they have to say about it, but, uh, here’s a, here’s a quick example for you guys to consider, sir, Paul McCartney of the Beatles. He wrote the song on this topic, right? Literally wrote the song can’t buy me love. And I’m just going to consider love the same thing as happiness here, because why else do we seek love as human beings? I don’t know. Maybe you have a deeper answer on that, but, Paul McCartney is one of the richest private citizens ever, ever to live in great Britain. very, very wealthy and did money by him. Love was money able to buy him. Love, went through a very nasty divorce with Heather Mills, lost 24.3 million pounds, to her that was kind of her payout in that divorce ending. she was going for 125 million quid. And so, really going, sorry. Quit is the same thing as pounds for those.
Dr. Hans 00:03:40 They didn’t really hear that I’m there. He’s, he’s getting fancy with his, uh, with his British slang. Yeah,
JF 00:03:50 Go British yellow. so anyway, in my opinion, uh, he’s, he’s got a band of his best friends that broke up and, and had a hard time getting along, lost his wife in a nasty divorce. Doesn’t really seem to me like all that money was able to ensure happiness, at least whether or not it bought happiness in the beginning. It wasn’t able to secure that happiness longterm. So, let’s turn it over to the experts. You guys, what’s your opinion. Can money buy us happiness?
Dr. Hans 00:04:29 So I love where you’re going with this. And what I would like to do first is let’s actually define happiness because happiness can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but ultimately I have made a living out of studying and getting down to the details on what happiness is and is not because early in my training, I had people come in and I started saying, what is depression? What is, and eventually I was led to a dead end and what is happiness? And, and so I’ve actually gotten it down to even, uh, we can talk emotionally, but I want to talk neurobiologically and then I’ll defer to Alex to tell us the emotional side of happiness. But when you look at it, there are two important parts of the brain. And these two important parts of the brain are very, very impactful to the center of our brain, where we experience happiness or not.
Dr. Hans 00:05:26 And here’s the, here’s the answer to it immediately. The frontal lobe is mainly the part of our brain that controls happiness, but what stimulates that frontal lobe to experience happiness. There’s one area called the nucleus accumbens, and another is called the ventral tegmental area. Now the nucleus accumbens is in the frontal lobe, but the ventral tegmental area, it’s in the middle of the brain and that what I like to call the unconscious part. And they do two important things. The, the, nucleus accumbens does, wow, that felt good. Or I liked that. And it sends out all those reward though, dopamine and your norepinephrine and your serotonin that says, that felt good. The nucleus accumbens, is so it’s the pleasure SIM the ventral tegmental area is the one that said, let’s do that again. I desire that. And so now you’re going to start craving it.
Dr. Hans 00:06:22 And these are the two that are also found in addiction. So when somebody’s happy, essentially you can view it as they have become addicted to something that’s good. When somebody is addicted, as we use the term, they become addicted to a counterfeit to true happiness, whether it’s using substances or, or intimacy or anything else. And so what makes it real, that’s where we’re going to go with this and I’ll give Alex a chance to, to give his opinion before I share the, the old psychodynamic view of how that happened. But what are the things Alex that you’re you see from a psychology standpoint that you’re guessing this would stimulate the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens. This guys are this guy’s our expert we have on this week. So I’m excited to hear from him.
Alex 00:07:13 Well, first of all, I love that you started off by asking, well, first we have to define happiness, right. And happiness is an emotion, right? And like all emotions, happiness comes and goes. So does having a whole bunch of money in your bank account make you permanently happy? Well, of course, non right. We all have updates. We all have down days. Right? And so the amount of money in your bank accounts not going to directly affect how long you stay happy, but I think a more, you know, broader look at things would be like, can money help us increase our overall well being? Right. Can happiness actually improve our sort of standard of happiness, our standard of like how we see the world. And I, I think the surprising answer is actually yes,
Dr. Hans 00:08:01 I agree with that. That I agree with that. There is some times where yes. Is the answer.
Alex 00:08:06 Yeah. Right. Like it’s obviously not, you know, all, I just need more and more and more because that’s again where we get into that sort of addiction realm. But, you know, there’s a, you know, there’s been several studies about sort of where’s the worst, the cutoff, right. And, uh, studies have shown that arounds for the United States. Let me make that clear for the United States around $75,000 a year is the cutoff of where a person sort of starts to plateau in terms of happiness and income. Okay. And why is it that number? Well, it’s all about, uh, you know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you’ve got, if you’ve already covered that with in previous podcasts or not, but it’s that idea of like, if your basic needs are met, then anything extra is not really coming to contribute to that. So a good example would be, you know, for a person who is making $10,000 a year are struggling to really pay off, you know, just buy groceries, just buy rent, just like maintain like safety level.
Alex 00:09:04 Well then somebody bumping them up from $10,000 a year to $50,000 a year is actually going to increase their sense of wellbeing dramatically. They’re going to feel safer. They’re going to feel more stable. They’re going to feel more secure and it’s actually going to improve their standard of living in their overall wellbeing quite a bit. Now, if you take somebody who’s making a hundred thousand dollars a year and you bumped them up to $125,000 a year, that’s not going to have the same impact as the person who was previously making $10,000 a year. So I think, Oh, sorry. Yeah. You know, cause I think, I think context is a real important factor. Whenever we’re talking about the psychology of money, right. To somebody who is a billionaire, losing a million dollars is a drop in the bucket. Right. But for somebody who is, you know, has $1 million in the bank losing a million dollars is losing everything. Right. And so we have to put it into a, an accurate context. And you know, not only that, but it’s also not about the money so much as what do you do with that money. Right. And you know, there’s actually very specific ways that we can spend our money, that we can use it to actually increase our overall wellbeing. And it’s really fascinating, interesting psychology stuff.
Dr. Hans 00:10:20 Yeah. Let’s dig deeper on that. I love it. But one thing that you said that I want to build on is you talked about a certain amount of money and, and we can get even, even more basic in depth with the psychology here. and so I’m going to take what you did and run with it there and steal your thunder.
Alex 00:10:38 Love it. I love it. Good, good, good.
Dr. Hans 00:10:40 So, so, happiness, I don’t know any other way in all the reading I’ve done and all this happiness comes from us accomplishing harder.
Alex 00:10:54 Yes.
Dr. Hans 00:10:56 You cannot have happiness without accomplishing something hard. Now some people will say, Oh, but it’s, it feels great when I win. Yes. That’s the reason it feels so good when you win is because that is the validation that you have overcome hard things. It fulfills your it’s as if saying you are worthwhile because you did something that’s hard. And that is the only way. So, so when we look at this, if money represents, you have now overcome something hard, you will always be happier with that money because it’s another, another reminder that you’ve done something. It I’ll give you an example. I, as a doctor, love making more money than I made when I was a waiter at a restaurant, but it’s not the money that’s making me happy. It’s that? I know that I studied a hundred hours a week for four years in medical.
Dr. Hans 00:11:53 And I survived the in spite of crippling health problems and everything else. And then in residency, I studied and became an expert, not only in psychiatry, but in psychotherapy and addiction and many other things. And so as I look at my income, it does make me extremely happy, but not because I have the dollars. In fact, to be honest, I don’t spend much more money personally than I did before I went to medical school. The same thing that’s made me happy before playing catch with my friends or with my kids. They’re still the things that bring me happiness. But when I make that more money, it does bring me happiness only because it represents, I overcame the hardest school known to man, which is medical school and then residency. And now I’m succeeding and becoming a professional doctor. So I love what you said there, and I’m going to have that. That would be my expansion on it, which is, which is, if it represents you having overcome something hard money absolutely can bring happiness, but winning the lottery where you didn’t have to work hard for it. I don’t know a happy lottery winner.
Alex 00:13:09 No. And there’s, there’s psychology behind that as well. Right? That, uh, that idea of when things are handed to us, right? It doesn’t, it doesn’t translate, but I love what you said because it’s absolutely true. It’s also connected to the idea of the hedonic treadmill, right? That idea that we constantly pursue happiness and constantly pursue things that make us feel better, right. Things that make us feel good. If you talk to any business owner, the happiest dollar that they ever made was the very first dollar they made. Right? When they go, Oh man, I started a business and I’m successful. I made money in my business. Now you take that same business owner after five years. And they’re now making a quarter of a million, half a million, a million dollars a year. And you ask them, is that money? Is that millions of dollar? As happy as that first dollar, they probably will answer. No, because they’ve gotten used to it. You remember our brain, our mind gets used to stuff real easy. Right. It gets so used to just like, Oh yeah, this is normal. Oh yeah. And then suddenly we lose that normal and distress happens. And that’s why people
Dr. Hans 00:14:15 Normal, it’s important to say normal may mean that you’ve developed new skills to where it’s no longer as hard for you to do the thing. That once was really difficult.
Alex 00:14:23 Right. Right. You know, it’s something like, Oh, this is routine. This is, this is easy now where two years ago it was really difficult for you. Right. And so that, that relationship between effort and accomplishment is huge. Right. So we always want to be, again, putting things into context. We always want to be sort of looking at it like, okay, where am I in relation to my money? Where am I in relation to my accomplishment, to my effort, right? Because if we don’t have
JF 00:14:52 The right amount of effort, right. If we have too much skill and not enough effort, then we get bored. You know? And if you have too little skill and the challenge is really hard, we get anxiety, right. So we want to find that perfect sweet spot of like, Oh, this, this challenge matches my skill level, you know, and that’s how we learn and we grow and we get better and better and better. So I love how you, how you put that in terms of like, uh, effort and accomplishment. Cause I think it’s directly related. It’s huge.
Dr. Hans 00:15:22 Give me, give me a recap of what we talked about to make sure that we’re not just nerding out over here and, and just, uh, making this our funnel only conversation, help us to make sure we’re staying on track with the average.
JF 00:15:37 I’m saying, I like this. This is good. And any questions? Absolutely. My mind is going wild. I think I’m filing, following right along. but a couple of things that I’m thinking about right now are several billionaire examples that I’m thinking of as you guys are saying this and, and, one in particular is Elon Musk who was announced just today, overtook, Warren buffet as the seventh, most, uh, the seventh richest person on earth. So he’s making more than, or has more now than Warren buffet has. But one of the things that I admire about Elon Musk is that he’s, he’s never been satisfied with just his money. He’s constantly going out and pursuing new challenges. I want to get somebody to the moon. I want to create the Hyperloop. I want to, do all these different things that he’s doing. I’m building car companies and all this stuff where he could have just been insanely wealthy by sticking with PayPal and just saying, no, I’ve got a great thing here.
JF 00:16:46 Why would I change it? Why would I venture out and do anything else? But I think I’m seeing an example of what you guys are saying here, that in order for Elon Musk to sustain his happiness, he is going out and continuing to pursue new challenges. That aren’t the easiest things for him. There’s not what he’s used to and everyday, Oh yeah, this is, I do this in my sleep. It’s like, Oh, let’s go find out. Let’s go find something. Everybody says it’s impossible and let’s try to accomplish that. And I’m sure he gets a very, incredible sense of fulfillment from when one of his rockets launches and the lambs again, which has some pretty incredible stuff that he’s been a part of lately. Another thing that I’m, that is coming to mind is just how I’ve said for years, because my history before this was, I had a global medical devices company that built prosthetics that allowed amputees to get back to, activities that they really valued, skiing, snowboarding, and things that they’re doing with their families.
JF 00:18:02 It wasn’t just being able to get around and walk and function in society. It was able to do the things that they identified with as part of their personality. People say, I’m a snowboarder, I’m a skier, I’m a rock climber. That’s part of who they are. And I always said that meant more to me than the money that I made in that company, because it was the currency of impact. It was how I was impacting other people’s lives. And it really did. It brought me more happiness than the money that came from doing what I was doing. And so, am I on track with what you guys are saying?
Dr. Hans 00:18:44 Yeah. I think in, in, in another example, that’s perfect of that would be a guy that I absolutely love is Dave Ramsey, never listen to anybody. Who’s following Dave Ramsey. They’re doing the hard thing. And they’re happy as can be to telling you that they’re living on rice and beans and beans and rice, as he says, and they love it because they’re accomplishing something hard, they’re watching their debt shrink and now they’re building their wealth. And the happiness is not because of this financial gains. It’s what the financial gains represent. Now, Alex is an expert in this and I have, I have also done, psychotherapy and worked with people on, on exactly this thing, which is, let’s just be honest. I’ve had some very famous and wealthy clients that have come to me for, for help. And oftentimes financial is part of what we talk about, but Alex has made a specialty out of this and I want, I want to turn it over to him to say, Alex, what do you look at there with a guy like Dave Ramsey? And we watch the happiness that comes out of people. Talk to us a little bit about the psychology of what he’s actually doing, because he’s a master with the psychology,
JF 00:19:55 His game. He is, he is. And I love Dave Ramsey’s work. I think it’s brilliant. And it’s really easy to, for people to digest and things like that. And I think part of this is the idea of, like I said earlier, it’s not the money that makes us happy. It’s not that the number in our bank account, but it’s how we use it. And one of the ways we can use it to increase our overall wellbeing and happiness is to spend it on other people. Right? And so when we take our money and we spend it on other people in any number of different ways, right, we can donate to charity, we can buy a present, we can build a business and like contribute that business to other people like Dave Ramsey has done, right? There’s, there’s so many different ways we can do it. And when we attach that to, you know, our overall wellbeing, we happier and the people
Alex 00:20:48 We are helping are happier, right? Because we are a social species and we thrive on social interaction. And so when we can recognize like, Oh, I don’t have to spend all my money on myself. I don’t have to, you know, it’s not about greed. It’s about if I make more money, I can actually help a lot more people. And I think Dave Ramsey would agree that like, it’s about that part of his whole message is like, you can give, now you can give to other people in your life, you can give to charities. You can give to the world. It’s not about us as just our tiny little egos, but it’s about our impact on the entire world around us. And I think that’s where a lot of people get stuck is that they’re so focused on the selfish ego, greedy kind of parts of us, but when we can step away from that and go, okay, it’s not about me.
Alex 00:21:38 It’s about, I can actually help a ton of people if I made more money or if I gave more or if I was more generous and things like that. And so I think that that impact the idea of what, how am I making an impact in the world is huge when it comes to overall happiness and wellbeing. And of course, if I have a greater impact on helping even more people, I’m going to feel awesome about myself. I’m going to love myself. I’m going to be like, yes, I’m accomplishing something. I feel like I’m actually contributing to the world, which is huge.
Dr. Hans 00:22:11 You know, Alex, you can tell this as a professional who is in his zone with this because he’s taken us to the next area without even talking about it. He’s taken us to the next area. I obviously wanted to talk about, which is if you tie your money, that you’re making to a goal, if that money represents or is tied to a goal, it will bring happiness. If money itself obtaining it, Israel
Alex 00:22:43 Or power is your only goal because money does represent power. Let’s not pretend, but if power or
Dr. Hans 00:22:49 Obtaining more money, which is a form of power is your only goal. I’ve yet to see it, make somebody happy. But if it’s tied to another goal, which he just gave three or four, great examples of helping people as the goal, I want to see other people come out ahead, you know, tell me, that’s not tell me that’s not a human trait. Otherwise, why would anybody go into coaching? One of the most stressful and health destroying jobs out there, but there’s something about helping other people to accomplish greater things that is just rewarding. And so your money can help you to help others accomplish greater things. I love it. I love that. And so I would say for anybody listening out there, who, who wants to do it now, I will tell you, if you want to find happiness and be filthy stinking, rich, the old saying holds true, do something as be the best at something and provide such a service that people can’t live without it.
Dr. Hans 00:23:49 And they will happen. You look at Elon Musk, everybody’s like, Oh, why does he want to go to space? Well, you know, at the end of the day, you do realize Elon Musk is providing Starlink satellites. These are basically saying, doesn’t no matter where you live. You can have gigabit is what they’re talking about now, internet service. And literally, if you can see the sky, you can, you can get this service. So he’s going to revolutionize the internet. He already revolutionized. He said, I want to make a difference in the environment. And he’s already revolutionized it with Teslas and anybody who knows me personally, they know I am in love with the Tesla cyber truck. I think it looks hideous, runs the quarter mile, like a super car. I’m going to get me a super car. One day that is called a cyber truck. He just keeps doing these things. That’s why he’s finding happiness is because these are hard things.
Alex 00:24:43 Can I expand on that? Go ahead. So, so I love how you connected it to, to a goal, but I’m going to take it even one step farther that when we can attach our money, our financial, you know, situation to our values, that’s even more powerful, right? Because a goal can come and go, right? I reached the goal. Okay, Don, moving on to the next goal. What are our values will stay consistent if I can connect, okay. My money is going to allow me to be even more compassionate. It’s going to allow me to be even more generous. It’s going to allow me to live a more adventurous lifestyle. It’s going to allow me to be, spend more time with my family, right? When we can connect it to our values, the things that are most important to us, then that’s, that’s an endless infinite road.
Alex 00:25:31 Right. But a goal like it’s like, okay, I want to make the, make the cyber truck. Well, I’ve made the cyber truck. Okay. Now, moving on next, next goal. Right? But a values oriented lifestyle around finances and money can go endlessly because there’s no limits to how generous you can be, how compassionate you can be, how adventurous you can be. You know, those that you can connect to your values. I think it takes it even farther. I really like that. Alex and I got to jump in here real quick.  because,  w one of the things I really liked that, that I’ve been told before, or that I’ve heard before is a saying that nigga was something. If I can remember it correctly, something to the effect of,  most of us spend money. We don’t have to buy things. We don’t want to impress people.
Alex 00:26:18 We don’t like. And I think a lot of times, if you ask the unhappy, wealthy people, what their goals are or why they have those goals, it’s not tied to those values that you’re talking about. Alex it’s it’s goals. Like, well, I grew up trying to impress my dad. I could never impress my dad. Now I’m trying to impress other people. And, and they’re constantly feeling unfulfilled. Their goals are never delivering what they really want. They’re doing things for, for other people or for the wrong reasons. It’s to show up the Joneses it’s to do better than somebody else. And so I love how you tie that in, because I think you’re both saying the same thing, but you’re right. Like, you can have goals that are not tied to your values. And, and,  that’s probably something you didn’t even think about hands, because I know your goals are very value centric, but I think that’s a fascinating clarification that at least for me, that just a light bulb just went off and I was like, Oh my gosh, you’re right.
Alex 00:27:30 I love what you’re saying about this. Because it connects to values in our culture, money in our culture. Right. Where if you look at certain, you know, social, economic status, right. A lot of times our values get messed up a little bit and our goals get good, messed up. Right. A lot of times we will look at money as a status symbol. Right? Like my self worth is not enough unless I, my bank account is enough. Right. People won’t like me unless I’m driving the newest fanciest car and have the most expensive watch. Right. And those things, right. When, when we put so much emphasis on those aspects of, of finances, then yeah. Nothing can make you as unhappy as money. Okay. You know, because somebody is always going to have the newest version of the phone or the latest, you know, most up to date, uh, car.
Alex 00:28:25 Right. There’s, there’s always going to be something better because that’s how the free market works. Right. It’s always the next, the next, the next, and then the next right. But if you didn’t take a step back from that rat race, that the Dominic treadmill, then we can go, okay, how am I going to, what kind of life do I want to live? You know, what kind of at the end of my life, what do I want people saying about me that I owned, you know, a fancy car, or do I want them to say, Alex was a crazy, generous, compassionate, loving, caring, adventurous person. And he took a whole bunch of people on those adventures with him, right? He surrounded himself with people of likeminded values and really spread that message across the world. You know, if we can look at our life in the values lens, then we don’t have to play the rat race. We don’t have to keep up with the Joneses because we can look at the mirror and be happy with what we see.
Dr. Hans 00:29:14 I think I love what you said there, as I’ve worked with, uh, uh, I’ll put it this way. You know, a lot of us as we’re growing up and I’m in this boat, I grew up thinking, man, if I could make six figures, I would, I will have arrived. Now I’ve worked with many people who make seven figures a year. So this six figures I thought was such a big deal. And I still it’s a big deal. Don’t get me wrong. But now I’ve, I’ve worked with people who are ultra successful in the financial realm and they make seven figures and you just hit the nail on the head, Alex, every single one of them, one of the main things we would do is we would create a vision. Any vision has to be built on your values because a vision, isn’t a simple goal here or there.
Dr. Hans 00:30:07 I thought that James, Claire did a fantastic job of that in his book, atomic habits. And I absolutely loved that book here. I am name all day here trying to look important, baby. But I think he did a great job of showing that that vision, which is built on your values brings happiness. And so,  I want to point out we’ve, we’ve come up with two things. So if you’re, if you’re listening to this and you say, okay, I want to, I want to be happy and I want to be able to make money and still be happy and still do. So the first thing would be tie your money to values. And those values will drive goals. Goals should help you complete your values. Second thing is don’t fall for the counterfeit and the counterfeit to happiness and overcoming things that are hard for you, which helps you accomplish the vision and helps you to grow that. Counterfeit is things will bring me happiness. No things only bring you happiness. If they represent you having overcome something hard, a new phone will never bring you happiness. If a new phone represents you having done something great or created a milestone or something, now that new foam can bring you happiness because of what it represents. But the item itself never. And I will say that never can an item alone bring you lasting happiness.
Alex 00:31:28 So I’m, I’m actually going to, I’m going to challenge that a little bit. Do you mind go for it? Yeah. So I think you’re, you’re spot on right? Items. Things do not bring us lasting happiness, but what does is experiences? Okay. So if I say, you know, I’m like, uh, uh, like you said earlier, right? Like let’s say I’m a skier, right? And I buy a new set of skis and I’m like, I’m going to go ski the Alps on my new skis. And that will lead me to greater happiness. Cause I’m excited for the trip. I’m excited to take my new skis on the Alps and ski. I’m excited to actually do it. And I’m excited like afterwards to reminisce about it and be like, yes, look what I did, but it’s not necessarily,
Dr. Hans 00:32:11 I love what you’re doing, but now tell me the why behind it. Let’s get into the psychology. What’s the why behind that continues to bring you happiness.
Alex 00:32:19 The, the why of like how experiences continue to bring happiness. Well, it’s because it’s, it’s a, it’s a continu right? Where, uh, an object will give us happiness for that brief little moment. Right. The new phones, all exciting. But then within a week it’s like, okay, it’s just like my old phone. Like, there’s no big difference, but it’s tying into the memory, tying into our timeline. Right? It’s like the, you know, the excitement right before the trip. And in fact, most people are happiest before they go on vacation. Right. They’re planning the vacation and they’re like, Oh, that’s going to be fun. That’s going to be exciting. I’m looking forward to lounging on the beach. They’re happy while they’re on vacation. So they’re happy on the present moment. Right. And then they’re happy afterwards because they go reminisce about and like, remember those awesome experiences. Do you remember the very first iPhone you bought now? I don’t think anybody does. They were like, yeah, whatever. Right. But it’s that timeline? It’s the darn memory around it.
Dr. Hans 00:33:17 You’ve just brought up a perfect distinction that I, that I bring up in my resiliency course that I give to people. And, and one of the things you just described to us, one of those activities reinforces you as a person, your mantra, it reinforces the, you are somebody who can accomplish hard things. And just that knowledge of. So for instance, it took me a long time to get in a financial place where I could save enough money to buy some skis and afford a trip to the Alps and then go skiing. And it’s not the trip to the Alps that necessarily continues to, to cause the, the nucleus accumbens to go off. But every time something hard comes up, you’re thinking yourself, yes, this is hard, but do you not realize who I am? I saved up. And I went through the hard thing of getting new skis and going to the Alps and even the skiing itself. And I became a good skier. Do you see how this is now establishing an identity, a persona, and that persona of knowing I can overcome hard things. That’s the foundation of confidence, which confidence, breeds, self esteem and self esteem, breeds, happiness. I love that you made that distinction. Whereas I get a new iPhone. It doesn’t necessarily reinforce that I am somebody who can do hard things. It doesn’t help that persona as much as somebody who sacrifices and creates an experience.
Alex 00:34:48 Absolutely. I love that because again, we tie it back into the values work, right? Remember values are just like adjectives, right? How would people describe me? And if I want to be described as an adventurous person, well, then I better start doing adventurous things. Right? I’d better have adventurous experiences in my life. You can’t say that an iPhone is adventurous. Right. It’s just a thing. But I can say like, man, I, I sailed the Pacific ocean or I climbed this mountain top or, you know, I visit all seven continents, you know, whatever. And that reestablishes that’s who I am. That’s my identity. That’s, that’s how I see myself. And that’s how I want to project myself into the world. Right. And so I think it’s really valuable to tie it into that sort of self identity and resiliency and, uh, the idea of like, who do you want to be?
Alex 00:35:35 You know? And that’s why, you know, we a of, there’s a lot of talk about like vision boards and things like that. And I actually encourage clients to create experiences boards. Right. What experiences do you want to have in life? You know, if you’re, if you value romance, do you want to have a kiss on the Eiffel tower? Right. If you want to, if you value adventure, do you want to, you know, hike the great wall of China, right? Like what experiences do you wants to have based on your values. And you know, when clients put that together in a habit in front of them, and it’s a visual, tangible reminder that like some places that they can see every day, it’s a constant reminder that not only am I, this person, I’m an adventurous person, but I am moving towards being even more so, and of course money can help us do that.
JF 00:36:22 I’ve got a question for you guys. Let’s look at the flip side of this because what I’m thinking about while you’re describing these things, and we were describing the happiness we gain from going out and accomplishing hard things is I’m, I’m considering some, some of the people I know who are maybe,  really depressed. They’re not accomplishing these hard things. And when you try to get them to accomplish hard things, that’s, that’s almost,  it pushes them further in the direction of,  depressed. Oh, I’m not good enough. You’re telling me I’m worthless. I’m not doing anything. And so how do we, if, if the solution to unhappiness is accomplishment and feeling like you can,  have something to be proud of for yourself, have something to respect yourself and, and be pleased with, with yourself. How do you get from that point where, where people are saying on a can’t even try not even going to get out of bed to having them say, Holy cow, look what I did, or look at themselves and say, wow, look what I did. How do we, how do we get from way over there to even moving in the direction to get over here?
Alex 00:37:58 Hans, do you want to tackle that? Do you want me to tackle it? Oh, why don’t you go ahead and then,
JF 00:38:03 Well, I disagree with you. I can, I can make fun of you.
Alex 00:38:06 Okay. I’ve got a spot. Okay. Pop quiz, pop quiz with the neuropsychologist.  so I think this goes back to everything. It needs to be placed in the right context. Right. And when we say, at least when I say, you know, doing hard things is good for us. It makes us happier, more resilient, and it makes us proud. And that feeling of, of, of accomplishment, you know, it’s important to keep in relation food, right? Cause to someone who is depressed, you know, getting out of bed can be the hardest thing they do all day long. Right. Right. And so to remind people that you get to decide what is a hard thing or not, nobody else gets to decide that just because I’m using examples of like skiing down the Alps or sailing the Pacific and things like that, that doesn’t mean that that’s your version of what’s hard.
Alex 00:39:02 And I think that’s really, really important to clarify that you and only you get to dictate what is hard and what’s not hard because it’s all relative. Right. And so when you can identify, okay, this was hard for me today. Just getting out of bed was an accomplishment was hard for me. And then he can take the time to actually celebrate that. You can take the time to go. Yes, I did that. I didn’t get out of bed for a week. And I got out of bed today. I’m going to celebrate that. I’m going to feel good about that. If you let other people or society or social media or anything else tell you that that’s not an accomplishment, then you have to be really selective in who you’re listening to and who you’re comparing yourself to. So I think that this is all about just sort of that. Where, where are you in relation to the hard thing? And are you defining what’s hard for you or not? Right.
Dr. Hans 00:39:52 I love what I love what he said. And I want to add to that. I’m completely agree if you do find that your still experiencing sadness and depression, and you’re not able to find a way to push yourself to accomplish things that will bring you happiness. That’s where a professional comes in. That’s where you need to find somebody, somebody like Alex wri,  where you come to me and sometimes you’ve been depressed for so long. Your brain is no longer stimulating those hormones to release. Like they should such as the serotonin, the norepinephrine, and you actually need a medical intervention to where I would get you on a medicine to help jumpstart that while we do that. And then the other thing there is you get a guy like Alex or I we’re going to help you to make goals that are safe for you.
Dr. Hans 00:40:44 That’s, that’s what we do for a living. Uh, you know, to be honest, almost anybody could prescribe the meds I give, well, that’s maybe an oversimplification, but many people could prescribe the meds I give. But what they can’t do is say, and here’s how we get you to your Bill’s best self safely without, and that’s where it needs to be. Just like Alex. And I do a customized plan for each individual. You will go to some people that aren’t that seven point provider. And sometimes they’re going to give you the same thing that they give every patient. But you go to a seven point provider. You’re going to get a customized plan that says, here’s what we’re going to do. First. It may be, you got to get out of bed for five minutes a day. I’ve had depressed patients that were that bad, that eventually they got to the point that they were hard things getting degrees that they’d always they’d always ran from. But that’s the key there is if you aren’t seeing progress and you’re not sure how to do it, that’s when it’s time to get a professional, you call Alex, you call me, you get to somebody that can help you safely push outside your comfort zone while not getting into the danger zone.
JF 00:41:55 So if Instagram is simply not working as my voice of reason and that expert authority on what’s hard for me, what I should, what standard I should be living up to. You’re saying that maybe a true professional can kind of assess where I’m at and what those baby steps are that are going to take me to that Instagram worthy lifestyle perhaps, or whatever is in fact, right for me. But I think a lot of people, you probably jumped to that, comparing themselves to what they’re seeing out there, where people are putting you, you know, that they’re only showing the best to the best little 1% of their life. That that makes them look like their lives are amazing. And like, they are amazing. And like everything’s great and MPG about their lives. And I’m having a hard time just getting out of bed, thinking, how am I going to climb Mount Everest? I can’t even get my socks on.
Dr. Hans 00:42:58 And that’s the goal is to get you to a point
JF 00:43:00 Where you start saying,
Dr. Hans 00:43:02 I have people around me who have the same values that I do, and it becomes contagious. You start to, so you can gain some strength by hanging around other people that are doing things you want to. One way that I wanted to become a great therapist and a great psychiatrist, or I started hanging around other people who were great psychiatrist and great therapists. And it started to rub off. And I started to pick up a tip here. I didn’t immediately become, become somebody like I am today, but I discovered one thing they did. And I said, I could start doing that. And I started building and I started going. I was so that’s, that’s the other thing they can do. Maybe you don’t need to come to a professional yet, but are you, if you’re somebody who wants a good marriage, are you hanging around a bunch of divorced people? Well, you’re never going to pick up good tips on how to stay married, hanging around a bunch of divorced people. You’re instead want to hang around other happily married people and you have to keep in mind, I’m making progress to be more like them. I need to be happy with the progress I’ve made and continue to move forward. That’s that’s where true happiness. And I’ll give Alex the last word, cause we’re about out of time with this and then Jared can sign us off. I love
JF 00:44:18 She said about, you know, surround yourself with the people you want to sort of emulate and be more liked because I think that’s absolutely true, right? Birds of a feather flock together kind of kind of mentality. But I also people to don’t compare yourself to them. Okay. That’s just going to compound any type of depression or apathy or stagnation. Right. I encourage my clients to compare yourself to the version of you. That was yesterday. Okay. That’s it, are you a little bit better than you were yesterday? If not that’s okay. How can you be better tomorrow? And if yes, then celebrate that, right. And again, better is subjective. Better is like, am I leaning into my values? I might. Did I get out of bed right. Better as, not necessarily, Oh, I climbed Mount Everest. Right. And so only compare, surround yourself with people you want to emulate and want to be more like, but only compare yourself to the version of you that was yesterday.
Dr. Hans 00:45:15 I love it. So Jeremy’s sinus off and tell them why we are now. We are now concluding that money can yes. Bring you happiness and no, it cannot.
JF 00:45:25 Yes. Yeah. I don’t think I can sum that up as well as you guys did, but I think it was pretty clear in there that,  yes. When, when,  when you’re working towards,  value based goals that brings happiness and, and money is often a part of all that that can empower you to accomplish those goals, to make the world a better place, to, to have an impact on the world and,  to, to have your impact,  ultimately kind of bring that happiness and those experiences,  that you’re able to have with friends and family. And,  so I just want to thank you guys. I think the biggest takeaway that I got came just right in those last few seconds, Alex,  that, that we should learn from people who have what we want, but not compare ourselves to them or anyone other than our ourselves,  from the day before and taking it one day at a time as, as Hans often teaches,  in resiliency that, uh, that just one day at a time we can build from literally not being able to get out of bed to climbing our Mount Everest, whatever that might be.
JF 00:46:45 And,  so thank you guys so much for participating in this. I think this has been a fantastic podcast.  Alex school, we’ll go ahead and throw a link to your website in the show notes on this. If,  if you,
Dr. Hans 00:47:01 They contact you Alex, if, if somebody wants to get in contact with you, how can they get, get ahold of you?
JF 00:47:07 Uh, probably the, the easiest way is through my website,  loom hyphen recovery.com, uh, or,  you know, that that website has all my phone numbers, all my email addresses and things like that. So,  bloom hydron, recovery.com. Awesome, great. And like I say, we’ll put that in the show notes as well. If you’re listening to this while you’re driving,  go to university elite.com, uh, after, uh, you know, when you get a chance to look up our podcasts and we’ll have all that information for Alex in there as well, as well as,  the marriage podcast that was mentioned and our resiliency course. So as you can take online, so a lot of really good information there. Thank you guys, both for your expert opinions, for your advice and counsel. I think this has been really good and, uh, I’m thinking this is going to have a lot of impact in people’s lives out there. So hope you’re happy with that. I’m certainly happy with what we’ve done today.  thanks so much and we’ll see you all on the next episode. Thank you.


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