Money, Values and Happiness

Living successfully in the consumer rat race society.

A happy successful life is much easier to acquire than a rich successful life.
But wait a minute - isn't that just what we want - a HAPPY successful life?
So why then do so many people strive and stress so hard to make more money?

To buy more stuff!

It's a hectic routine as after each acquisition sights are often immediately set on the next new or better thing. And the consuming anxiety continues, with the need for more money.

How silly is that? It's worse than silly when it takes so much form our natural enjoyments and peace of mind - from the only life we will ever have.

Thomas Jefferson lamented, "The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family".

Most of our stresses and tensions are a result of the social environment in which we exist. As this consumer mania that surrounds us continues to expand it becomes more difficult to break free of the madness to acquire more of everything, including more anxieties and poorer health. To be anxious for more or to envy another's life or possessions is a state of frustration and unhappiness.

So the basic sensible logic is right there. Live simpler, easier and happier because the most enjoyable things cost less or nothing. We will have achieved that better life when we are no longer trying to achieve a better life. It means that we are content, as we should be, with ourselves and what we have.

What do we have?
Perhaps it is time to make a list of all the good things that we have to grateful for and satisfied about and see if we do not already have what we really need. There is life itself and everything that is naturally before us. We just have to look around and take it in. There are friends and family that we would miss dearly if they were not here, or if we did not take the time to enjoy them. When we go for a simple walk there is so much to see and appreciate if we will only see, hear, and smell. There are flowers, trees, birds, and clouds in the sky. A friendly neighbor waving, a cute puppy or a child enthusiastically enjoying so much that very moment in life.

So we can make a resolution and set about a plan to disconnect from the rat race and enter the garden.

There are lots of books on this topic as well as very many articles in blogs and websites and we only need to get interested to start the shift to a more serene and satisfying existence.

From elsewhere on the net:

Stop trying to impress other people.
Trent at The Simple Dollar offers 6 ways to break through that situation.
1. Take the lead. Be a trendsetter within your group. Back away from the expenses and activities that revolve mostly around impressing other people. Make suggestions for activities that don’t revolve around showing off.

2. Try new activities. You can do this either with your circle of friends or on your own, but try out new things that you might never have considered before. Think of things that seemed fun to you but you never got involved with because others around you decried them - and you were trying hard to impress them by agreeing.

3. Guide the conversation. If the conversation turns to bland compliments of each other and insults of people outside your group, steer the conversation away from it. Focus on being positive towards everyone, particularly in non-material areas. Pick areas you’re passionate about (don’t be a one trick pony - figure out several) and guide the conversation there instead.

4. Use your compliments wisely. Offer compliments on jobs well done, but don’t bother with big compliments on new gadgets or new clothing or a shiny new car. It’ll become clear that what you value are people who take charge of their life, not people who fritter away their money trying to impress others.

5. Share personal growth oriented thoughts. Instead of talking about popular culture and “stuff” all the time, instead mix in some thoughts on personal growth. Talk about ways you’re trimming your spending in positive ways. Talk about your big aspirations and dreams. Encourage others to share theirs as well. It also helps to read good materials in these areas so that you have more food for your own thought and more ideas to share.

6. Explore new relationships. If your circle of friends is still focused too heavily on impressing others and on material gains, spend some time exploring new relationships. Call up people you’ve thought of as interesting but simply wouldn’t fit in your old group and see what they’re up to. Connect with people at the new activities you’re trying. (I’ll touch on this a little bit more with a later rule.)

In short, don’t play socially by the tired old rules that revolve around needing to impress people. Instead, spend your time on things that bring real value to you - and give real value to others.

From Zen Habits The Cheapskate Guide: 50 Tips for Frugal Living
Includes a big bundle of ideas for saving money. Here are a selected few:

1 Go with one car. Many families have two or more cars. Besides your house, your car is probably your most expensive item. If you can do with one, you should. My wife and I both work, and we have six kids, and yet we have learned to manage with one car.

2 Go with a smaller house. Just because you can afford a larger house, doesn’t mean you should live in one. Live in as small a house as you can and still be comfortable. I don’t mean you should live in a one-room apartment with a family of four … you know what I mean. You can save thousands a year with a smaller house. Many times, if you get rid of a lot of clutter, you don’t need a large house.

6 Eat out less. One of the biggest expenses in our daily lives is eating out — the average person spends well over $2,000 a year on eating out . . .

11 Don’t shop. Don’t go to the mall or other shopping area or department store to look around and shop. Go to a store if you know what you need, and then get out.

12 Use a 30-day list. To curb impulse buys, create a 30-day list. When you want to buy something, other than a true necessity (medicine or food, for example), put it on this list, with the date you added it to the list. And make it a rule that you can’t buy anything for at least 30 days after you put it on the list.

21 Sell your clutter. This is not so much saving money as making it, but the frugal, simplifying cheapskate, like myself, will want to declutter and make a few bucks doing it.

28 Stay home. Becoming a homebody might not sound like a lot of fun, but it really can be. I love staying home with my family. We can do all kinds of fun things at home.

35 Reduce convenience foods. Frozen foods, microwaveable stuff, junk food … anything that’s packaged and prepared for our convenience is not only more expensive than something you cook yourself, but also most likely less healthy.

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Photo: Little Gardener by ckgd2