Happiness may help fight poverty

Buz Livingston

Too often in our business we focus primarily on finances. Of course, that is what financial professionals do, but we could be neglecting an important, maybe more important, piece of the pie. The recent London School of Economics report “Origins of Happiness” found that more human misery was related to failed personal relationships along with mental illness than financial problems. Tackling mental health issues may be the best way to fight poverty.

Richard Layard, an advisor to Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, led the study, which analyzed data from four countries including the United States. Layard believes money spent on mental health would pay for itself by generating income from increased employment and reduced healthcare costs. Over several decades, Layard has made the argument social and psychological factors are more important than income levels when it comes to life satisfaction. Layard notes that having a partner is as right for you as being unemployed is bad for you.

Addressing depression, Layard states, would be four times more effective than fighting poverty and “would pay for itself.” Wealth creators are the buzzwords, but well-being creation likely leads to better results. For the first time in decades, life expectancy for Americans has fallen. Alcoholism, opioid abuse, depression, and anxiety are the usual suspects, and by ignoring these threats we put society at risk. It is like spending money on routine home maintenance is much more cost effective than major repairs.

Layard’s study also indicates we stress educational attainment for kids, but when it comes to predicting a happy adult life education level is less significant compared with emotional health. If you want to help your children to succeed, spend time with them and offer encouragement.

This Christmas focus on your friends and family, the ones who share your DNA and those who don’t. I have friends who close with “I love you.” They always say it first. I wish I could, I will work on it.

Merry Christmas Baby You Look Good to Me

I like Christmas music, and like telling people Merry Christmas. It is almost as much fun as asking little kids if they have misbehaved. I realize saying Merry Christmas offends some people, but remember John Lennon, hardly an altar boy, wrote a classic Christmas song right up there with “Merry Christmas, Baby” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” If Lennon was cool with “Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear," put me on his team. Newsflash, there is no war on Christmas either. This alleged conflict is nothing more than a fake news story promoted by individuals who have been naughty, not nice. Mr. Grinch is the sly one.

You can’t always get what you want but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you find what you need. For specific recommendations visit us online at or come by our office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.