The Relationship Between Your Debt and Your Happiness (P.S. It’s Obvious)

In my last post about happiness, I wrote about 4 ways you can be happier and less stressed in order to run your business more effectively:

1. Do Good Deeds

2. Get Exercise

3. Get Hugged

4. Get a Pet

I want to keep on with this idea of happiness and focus even more closely on the things you can do to increase your happiness as it relates to money and finances, both personally and for your business.

It may come as no secret to you that debt makes people unhappy, but you’d be surprised at how little debt it takes to sour relationships, create tension and stress and ruin a business. Therefore, whenever possible, make sure that you and your company are carrying as little debt as possible.

To tell you to spend money paying down debt that your business doesn’t have might seem foolish, but what’s foolish is spending money that your business doesn’t have in the first place!

TIme and again I am brought in to resolve the problems of businesses with inordinate debt and money owed to a wide variety of lenders and creditors. As I look back to see what debt is really in front of us, who’s owed what and at what interest rate, when loans are coming due, etc., I often uncover a similar pattern.

Those who are in debt need not be in debt – or at least not the kind of debt they’re in.

They are in debt because they didn’t take the opportunity to pay down some of their initial debt when they had the chance. Instead, they sought to use their capital for further investment (or unsavory things), thereby driving themselves further and further into debt when paying that debt off in the beginning would have done wonders for the future of their business. That is to say, they would have been able to keep their businesses.

It is true that sometimes the answer to a cash flow problem is a loan, but I have been in numerous situations where any loan would have been throwing more money at a sinking ship.

That is why it’s important not to take loans to supplement loans. This may seem like obvious advice, but you’d be amazed at how often these are the problems I’m dealing with. When given the opportunity to pay the principal down on a loan or to pay off a credit card you’ve been using to finance your business, do it. Don’t think that buying a new piece of fancy equipment for your factory is the perfect way to grow your business faster or that hiring a new employee will solve all of your problems. Pay your debt down and continue to own your business. It will keep you focused by ultimately keeping you less stressed and helping you avoid crises and debt in the future.

Want to be happy at your job? Then keep your business debt free.

Is your business buried under debt or has it been? What did you do about it?

4 Ways to Be Happier – A Scientific Approach

I talk a lot about ways to keep your business from experiencing crises, how to manage your business during a crisis, and stories of those who went through crises and how we got them out the other side. But today I want to touch briefly on a topic that I’ll revisit from time to time because it’s very important as well: happiness.

Running a company or being a manager or whatever leadership capacity you inhabit that makes you read this blog (and I say thanks to all you readers and those who have subscribed recently) can be stressful. And a central topic of this blog is crisis, which is also particularly stressful for most people – that’s why I wrote my list of 5 Foolish Faux Pas of CEOs in Crisis (that result mostly due to stress they don’t know how to manage).

With all this potential stress, it’s important that you are happy. Sure, you can’t walk around with a smile on your face all day long, but you can be a happy – or happier – person and business leader. If you’re not, you should rethink your day job.

What I want to share with you was inspired by a quick blurb in a magazine I was recently reading. It’s 4 ways that studies and research show are scientifically proven to boost your happiness. Without further ado, here they are:

1. Do Good Deeds. We’ve talked about this a lot before – how you can use your time and work and energy to help others. If you want a refresher, check out my 7-Part Series, Giving Back During Tough Economic Times. Helping others, as long as it doesn’t become a repetitive activity, makes us feel happier.

2. Get Exercise. It’s been repeatedly shown that exercise doesn’t have to be intense or sustained to be effective. Just 30 minutes of walking a day is literally the single best thing you can do for your health. No joke! How can you do that in the office? Take your meetings while walking around the office or outside the office for some fresh air or vitamin D. You can also do your phone calls this way. Trust me, a little walk always clears the head, releases endorphins (if you get your heart rate up) and makes you happier.

3. Get Hugged. I don’t mean to be encouraging inappropriate office conduct, but people who get hugs are happier. We need basic human contact. Make sure you’re hugging your spouse or parents or whomever can provide you with this bit of happiness.

4. Get a Pet. This one isn’t for me, because I have allergies, but I love stopping by my kids’ place and seeing their pets. Pets are proven to lower stress and make us feel better.

All four of these ideas are great ways to increase your happiness and destress as you run a business – especially a business in crisis. Make sure that you’re doing the things that let you care for yourself and be happy. That happiness and self care will go a long way in its positive effects on your business and corporate culture.

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As usual, I welcome comments and questions below! I’d love to know which of the methods above helps you increase your happiness.