I read an insightful article, “Happiness is about Respect, not Riches” by Stacey Kenelly in Greater Good. (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/happiness_is_about_respect_not_riches)
The article tells about research done that compares what makes you happier: your wealth and socioeconomic status; or how much people respect you. Their finding is that feeling like you are respected is far more important to people in their overall satisfaction in life than economic rewards.
Professor Cameron Anderson, the study’s lead author of the study said, “research suggests that what really matters is the respect, admiration, and feelings of power we get from others within our face-to-face groups.
“You don’t have to be rich to be happy, but instead be a valuable contributing member to your groups,” says Anderson. “What makes a person high in status in a group is being engaged, generous with others, and making self sacrifices for the greater good.”
What does this mean for you and I?
First, we should be very intentional to give people what they really want—respect and recognition. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics, says that we should imagine that each person we meet has a sign hanging around their neck that says, “Please make me feel important.” She says that if make others feel important, we will be successful in everything we do in life.
Second, how to we get the respect and recognition that we need? Well, God is happy to give it to us. Ps 84:11 says that God bestows favor and honor to us. If we ask him for this and interact with him, he is delighted to honor us. Does that seem selfish? I don’t think it is selfish to ask God to meet our needs and fill us up. That way we have something to give to others out of our overflow.
If we are engaged, generous and focused on serving others, we are creating value for others. An indirect, albeit wonderful byproduct, is that some people will respond by respecting us. This is another reminder that it is more blessed to give than to receive.