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Would You Rather Have $41,542 or 3 to 4 Months Worth of Therapy?

A lot of people would want the money, right? Well, I’m not going to tell you that people chose therapy over the money. But I am going to tell you that a research study of thousands of people found that it would take a pay raise of $41,542 to match the sense of well-being that people found after just 3-4 months of therapy. The study was published in November of 2009 in the journal Health Economics, Policy and Law.

Here are some highlights of the article and research study:

“Psychological therapy may be much more effective at making people happy than getting a raise or winning a lottery prize, suggests an English study.

“Researchers analyzed data on thousands of people who provided information about their mental well-being and found that the increase in happiness from a $1,329 course of therapy was so significant that it would take a pay raise of more than $41,542 per year to achieve an equal boost in well-being.

“That suggests that therapy could be as much as 32 times more cost-effective at improving well-being than simply getting more money, the researchers said.”

Wow – $41,542! That’s quite a pay raise, wouldn’t you say? Notice that it wasn’t $35,000, $25,000 or even $10,000. I assume that $41,542 was the calculated average of the thousands of research respondents. That says quite a lot about the value of good therapy!

Let’s take a closer look at happiness and money.

First Things First Happiness is an irrelevant concept unless our basic needs for food, water, shelter and safety are met. If we are impoverished and living at the survival level, money certainly trumps therapy – unless the therapy is treating a mental issue that is blocking our ability to think clearly and problem solve.

Does money make us happy?

Have you heard the old adage that money can’t buy happiness? Remember how the Beatles sang about how money can’t buy love.? Money may not be able to guarantee love and happiness, but it certainly has the potential of improving the quality of our lives. You’ve heard the stories about lottery winners who ultimately have nothing to show for their winnings and wind up penniless and depressed? Or about wealthy people with severe emotional challenges? Money itself is a medium of exchange and a measure of value – nothing less, nothing more. The benefits and problems of money have nothing to do with money itself, but with how people use it and why. It has the potential to bring out the best in people or the worst. It can enable some people to feel happy and fulfilled, and others miserable and deprived. It can provide freedoms from unwanted obligations, stress, burdens or it can imprison through misery-making behaviors and attitudes such as greed, competition or addictions. Money can slip through our fingers like water, often leaving us to wonder where it went. It comes and goes, flows in and out, always on the move. When pockets are empty many feel without value, resentful and diminished. The funny thing is when pockets are full many also come to feel without value, resentful and empty. Money is full of paradoxes and it can be a precarious proposition to hang one’s hat on it for happiness and well-being.

However, given the givens about money, for most people, $41,542 would go a long way to improve the quality of their lives. So, how is it that for many, $13,000 worth of therapy had a value of $41, 542? I can’t speak for all the people in that study, but I can tell you how therapy can make a positive difference for people in terms of happiness and well-being.

What kind of happiness can $1329.00 worth of therapy buy?

Your Aliveness! Your sense of well-being and happiness is connected to the sense of aliveness that you experience inside of you. I’m talking about much more than a heartbeat, breath and vital signs. The aliveness I’m talking about is not conditioned upon age, agility, high energy or peppiness; it’s about feeling connected with yourself in a way that allows you to be enlivened, activated from a deep and grounded place in you. It is from this connection that you are compelled to act, move, speak, create, or be silent and still. This aliveness feels vital and present – the lights are turned on inside!

When your sense of aliveness is activated, your heart is open, your body feels a current of energy and your mind is engaged and focused. While problems may come and go through a swinging door, your aliveness sows the resilience, clarity and presence that keep you on your course.

In my mind, this is the ultimate gift of therapy. In the process of helping you solve problems and deal with difficulties, therapy serves to fuel this essential aliveness so it can seep into the places inside of you that hunger for new life, such as:

  • Living your life with more purpose
  • Repairing damaged self esteem
  • Meeting life challenges with more resourcefulness and resilience,
  • Enjoying happier and healthier relationship.
  • Replacing habits that don’t work so well for ones that do
  • And this is the short list!

In short

The research study cited at the top of this article shows us that therapy can compel your happiness even more than a sizeable increase in money. Why? Because therapy helps you restore a sense of aliveness and $1329.00 of therapy can give you a fantastic jumpstart or repair to this essential part of you. Once you make a change on the inside, it is yours to keep if you want to. Many of us have learned the hard way in the past couple of years that we don’t have that kind of control with money!