There's a growing gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. that, according to the Pew Research Center, will continue to widen under the current economic conditions. This presents a huge problem for society, not only because it means a rising percentage of people will be faced with financial hardship, hunger and homelessness, but also because many believe that only the wealthy can be happy.
An August 2010 study by Princeton University researchers suggested that money does in fact buy happiness. The survey, which questioned some 450,000 people, found that those who make less than $75,000 per year reported being unhappier than those who made above this amount, and the less they made the less happy they felt. It's important to keep in mind that people's definitions of happiness vary. To some, it means feeling content and uplifted as they go through each day, while others may believe it's a more general satisfaction with the state of their lives.
While the study exposes some interesting information about the effects of income inequality, but what's more interesting is what it reveals about the importance that our society has assigned to money. Television and movies may portray the rich as joyful and content and the poor as miserable, but the reality of the situation is that all people tend to measure satisfaction with life on deeper issues.
Boston College developmental psychologist Robert Kenny conducted a survey that supports what Ilchi Lee emphasizes in his teachings – that money isn't mandatory for obtaining happiness in life. Kenny conducted a survey of high-income households that asked, among other questions, "What is the greatest aspiration for your life?" For the most part, people's answers had nothing to do with money. Rather, most said that their biggest aspiration was to be a good parent and noted that money can only go so far when it comes to raising children. But any person, with enough care and patience, can be a good parent, in the same way that anyone can find happiness in life.
In one of the enriching Ilchi Lee books – the second edition of "Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life" – the Dahn Yoga founder discussed the potential for all people to reach greatness.
"I don't believe in greatness that is bestowed as a rare gift to a few lucky ones," Ilchi Lee wrote. "Rather, I think all people have greatness inside them. It is just a matter of persistence - sticking to what you have envisioned until it is reality. I have a deep conviction that everyone, including you, has been given exactly the right set of gifts to fulfill some magnificent purpose in life. Greatness must simply be chosen. And if you choose it, it will happen."
The potential for greatness is within all of us. No matter your circumstances, you have the capacity to obtain financial stability, reach your goals and, more importantly, find happiness through spiritual growth and self-development.