I’ve stated too often that I’d rather be happy and poor than to be rich and miserable. Or said another way, I’d rather have choices and freedom than any beautiful house, car or luxury. I realize it’s time to update that picture in my head because it’s not an either-or choice. I need money. I want money.
Nowhere else in my life do I let myself off so quickly. In my work, I put in the effort to get it right. With my remodeling or repair of my house, I have some darn high standards. So why would I lower my standards in my finances? There was a point I was trying to make when I first said I’d rather be happy than rich. It goes along with the proverb,
It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home.- Proverbs 25:24
After living with a workaholic for years and longing for his companionship, my twisted logic kicked in. Happiness suggested less money than we had before. It sounds silly I know, but beliefs and life scripts don’t always make sense. I’m no longer in that situation, so I’m updating my knowledge.
It’s a fool’s choice. It’s not real, much like fool’s gold. You have what you have. You either have the money, or you don’t. There are no crossroads to meet the devil on, no trading of your soul for fame and fortune, no genie, no lamp, and no damn lucky rabbit’s foot. Work, rest, enjoy what you have.
The first magazine article I ever sold I wrote about an event I saw at the end of the year 2000, and it caused me to do a double-take. An older man was walking his dog. It was a little black dog on a leash. I was driving to the library in the small town that I lived in and there on Main street, suddenly the dog ran up a tree. The man was still holding the handle of the leash and my mouth dropped open. I slowed down. Not a dog at all. It was a black cat. The man was walking his cat. Please remember, this is small town America, 15 years ago. I had to tell someone. I was so flabbergasted when I went into the library. I hurried in to speak with the librarian who told me a story, which led me to write my article about her and her cat when she was in Kuwait.
I hadn’t written or even published anything professionally yet, but I had dreamed about it. I had even subscribed to the Writer’s Digest magazine and drooled over all the how-to articles. Everything was low-tech, paper submissions at that time. I had my thick paper-bound book of places to submit your articles and a lot of ideas in my newbie’s head. Just no experience. I can’t say that I’m so proficient today even. The market changes quicker than any of us can keep up, which only means that it’s always a new game. Make up the rules and keep playing.
When I got home from the library, I pulled out my handy-dandy spiral notebook and started jotting down the story. I had the subject, cats on a leash and cat training with operant conditioning, and I had my expert the local librarian who had trained her two cats with this method out of necessity while in another country. Now who could best use this article?
I was limiting my field by writing my article first, but it’s the way life happens sometimes. I grabbed my dog-eared books with all the listings of magazine publishers and started sorting through. I shot off a query letter and put in my hook line about the dog running up the tree and a bit about keeping your cat safe when you’re on vacation and such, the sort of things that I thought they might be interested in for their audience. It worked. My heart stopped almost when I actually got the “we’re interest” phone call. I was getting paid. ASPCA published my first article in the summer of 2001.
Everyone has their first story, their first photo, their first client or first whatever. It happens so quick sometimes you don’t have time to think about it. I listened to a Ted talk today by Mel Robbins called How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over, that said you have 5 seconds to act on an impulse before you lose the energy to move forward. You can use that in your favor the next time an opportunity leaps in front of you, remember you have 5 seconds to take an action forward. Write it down, take a step, make a call, or say yes. I was too young and naive at the time of my first to even think anyone would say no to my crazy story. I’m older, wiser now, which only means I second guess myself. I pause. I pull my punches. The urge has left and the opportunity is gone. I have missed a story. I have lost the chance to connect with another person. And that’s a sad thing to miss.
I have been embarrassed by my whiteness, my richness, my entitlement. Embarrassed, ashamed, repentant. Inside I was apologetic, not wanting anyone to think that I believed that I am better than another. Sometimes I wonder if I’m trying too hard to prove something. But who am I trying to prove this to? And why?
Check out this video:
We have no control over our birth. Where we are born, the family we are born into, the color of our skin, and the status of our household is decided for us. The religion of our culture is usually the one that we adopt. And yet we claim these things with such pride and place our hand over our hearts, pledging allegiance as if we chose them.
Kids do not create the circumstances they are born into. Never apologize for who you are, unless who you are is an asshole. Privilege is what most parents want for their children. It’s what most people want for themselves. The problem is not privilege, and the goal is not equality of outcome. The goal is simple recognition that a lot of people are running the race of life with rocks in their pockets and combat boots on their feet. They are being forced to start a half mile back, and with bad maps. – Don’t Feel Guilty About Privilege
We may not be able to change another’s current privilege, but we can change the future generation. It’s not necessary for me to apologize anymore. I don’t have to hang my head. Really. I don’t know why I ever thought that I should.
How much does it cost to feel well? What are you willing to give up to be free of pain? We know that healthcare doesn’t come cheap. Vitamins are expensive. Organic food is a bit extra so we weight the cost. Is it worth it for us? What about the medicine we take? That’s been my dilemma. But not so much about the cost. The medicine I’m taking, Topamax, helps prevent migraines. It’s also been helping in preventing my neck pain. The side effect for me is tiredness, fatigue. With each increase in dosage comes a bit of slowing down. So, my cost/ratio question is, how much pain prevention is it worth for me? How much slowing down can I adapt to?
For a while I didn’t know if I was going to make it each time my doctor kept saying, we’re going to try upping your medication. But on the flip side, I didn’t know if I was going to make it with the fire-like pain that was radiating up the nerves in my neck and my skull. I trudged and braced myself, hoping I could make it through another day, then the week. Sometimes there was a reprieve. Until now. I’ve had a full month without headaches. That’s darn good. Freakin’ amazing! It’s been close to 9 months since this process started and now I finally see the progress. The slowing down is worth it.
We live and change
This article though is a little disturbing to me. The trend towards constantly rewarding our happiness button, or shortening our attention span a bit more, is increasing instead of decreasing. I think we’d be happier as a species relaxing our attention and letting go, but that’s just me. Check out the article if you wish here, What would you pay to be happy? The Guardian.
…the poet Guillaume Apollinaire: “Now and then,” he advised, “it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” That’s worth a T-shirt.
William Davies’s The Happiness Industry, from the above article.
What if we changed our culture? What if we no longer applauded great wealth at any cost? What if we applauded generosity, compassion, and forgiveness? Yes, it’s easy for me to say these things since I’m not wealthy, but I’m not alone in saying them.
Malcolm is targeting the systems we’ve built, the truths we hold so dear and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we can produce some more heroes. – Seth Godin in review of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book.
At the age of 14, Hugh Evans spent a night with cockroaches crawling all over him. That experience turned out to be life-changing for Evans, now 30. Far removed from his comfortable home in Australia, he traveled to the Philippines with an aid organization that set him up with a host family. Their home was in Smokey Mountain, a teeming slum in Manila. A boy in the family, Sonny Boy, was the same age as Evans. The disparity between their lives struck him hard. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/05/could-you-live-on-a-dollar-a-day/
In some circles we have improved. But there are enough sub-pockets in our culture that keep the generosity movement bogged down. We are a generous nation and so are people all over the world. You can see groups which care about cleaning up oil spills, those concerned about animal endangerment, and many are helping provide clean water for those in need. But we need to start at the bottom, at the base of society. Our desires. Our ambitions. Our vision of ourselves. There is a level of crud and corrosion that we must clean or we will all drown. We envy and want great wealth because we are afraid. I am afraid. If I don’t get that job, that bonus, that raise, that particular car, I’m afraid I will starve. I will perish. I will not exist anymore. I feel jealous, unloved and abandoned. Over an iPhone that I didn’t get. It’s ridiculous. My whole mindset needs rearranged. I live in a rich country. So rich that I have never missed a meal because of lack. Others around me live the same and yet we feel poor because we don’t have cable television. Or internet. Or whatever latest gadget that someone else has.
There’s an experiment going on all across the world now, or I should say it’s a conversation. It’s called by a variety of names, but in essence it’s living at the poverty level for days or months, voluntarily.
The next post in the continuing frugal gastronomy series features a pair of schoolteacher-writers who gave themselves the toughest of all restrictions: All their food had to cost no more than $1 per day per person. Amazingly, if they invited guests over to eat, the guests’ food had to be covered by the $1 allotment. You’d have to really like the guest, I suppose.
Once again, I’ll repeat: Eating on a budget is not a contest; it’s a conversation.
Help your local homeless shelter or food pantry. If you don’t know if one exists in your town call your town council or a YMCA.
Help to change attitudes one person at a time. Start small. Show them how changing one life makes a difference. Immigrants and the homeless aren’t nameless or faceless. They are people. They are you and me. They hurt. They dream. They cry. They smile.
It’s that time of the year again. Just like last year, I wanted to share with you a couple of my favorite charities. Here’s a link to last year’s, What Color Are Your Towels?
I hope that this has been a good year for you and that you are able to give. If not, then take care of yourself and your own. There’s nothing wrong with that. In the lean years, that’s how we do things. But in those other times, when we’ve planted our garden and have tomatoes “growing out our ears” we make big batches of salsa and give it away. I’ve donated so far this year to Charity:Water and Kiva.org, which is really a loan that is repaid, but I redistribute the funds.
I was fortunate to get involved with TheThinkingAtheists event which looks like it might still be open. I would love to see this fully funded.
Keurig has offered to match donations to Charity Water for the building of freshwater wells in third-world nations. In the past, The Thinking Atheist community has funded two wells in Ethiopia, and we consider this a worthy endeavor. Click here for info and to help reach the $20,000 goal. https://my.charitywater.org/compassion-for-clean-water
If you’d like to get someone a gift that also works as a charity donation, check out some of the stores for your favorite charities. Some of the items are so cute. I want these pins,
Below is a short piece by Seth Godin and he lists a few of his favorite charities at the bottom. Please feel free to add some of your own in the comments.
Actually, I got an unsolicited spam pitch from one of the worst charities in America. They give less than 1% of what they raise to the cause in question.
Therefore, some might say, it makes no sense to give to anyone, ever.
Which would be a shame, because it’s a mistake to fail to do the hard work of discerning the good from the deceptive.
The thing is, everything worth doing is done to excess, poorly, immorally, inefficiently, by someone. But that doesn’t change the fact that the very same thing done right is worth doing…….The right charity changes the world, just as it changes us when we engage with it.
I did something really stupid over the last 3 or 4 months. I hesitate to tell it because it seems so embarrassingly obvious now. And I bore you with the upfront explanation because I’m vain. Yeah, I know. It’s hard to believe, but I’d hate for anyone to think I’m as ditsy as my blonde hair appears.
I have one credit card that I run my monthly expenses through, as suggested by many financial experts, such as, Ramit Sethi, although I’m not a total fan of his.
I had some unexpected expenses so I didn’t pay my card in full and thought I’d catch it up later. Well this is the silly part. I downloaded the online spreadsheet each month to keep track of my monthly expenditures. This sounds smart, right? Until I misread the spreadsheet. I glanced and glazed over at the charges, mentally noted the total at the bottom. The next month the same. By the third month I’m puzzled. The balance was growing tremendously. Curious, I went back over the expenses and mentally added them up…whoa wait a minute. There’s a payment credit and it’s numbers offset the balance. Ugh. Classic mistake of confirmation bias. I had looked at the total I wanted to pay and just went with it. I liked that number. It’s what I wanted it to be, regardless of the true amount owed.
In short, your own mind acts like a compulsive yes-man who echoes whatever you want to believe. Psychologists call this mental gremlin the “confirmation bias.”- JASON ZWEIG
Have you ever read through something you’ve written a month or a year ago? Amazing how you notice the errors later, but you swear they weren’t there when you posted the writing. That’s why we hire editors for the really important stuff. I call it confirmation bias, but it’s also called not seeing your own imperfections. You can’t. You’re too close. You need the skill of another person that’s not your mom or dad. Someone not too nice or not too critical. Truthful.
Humans are pattern-seeking animals. Once we have determined that a pattern exists, whether it actually does or does not, we tend to look for ways to confirm our suspicions. This is what is known as a confirmation bias. It can influence you in almost every area of your life; from school, to work, or even with the news or entertainment you may enjoy. However, recognizing that you have such biases is the first step in overcoming them and having a more objective view of the world. – Examples of Confirmation Bias
The next time something doesn’t seem right, but you just don’t “see” it, ask for a second opinion. Maybe someone else can help. We all have confirmation bias. Sometimes it’s as plain as the nose on your face, but you look right past it.
I’ve stated too often that I’d rather be happy and poor than to be rich and miserable. Or stated another way, I’d rather have choices and freedom than any beautiful house, car or luxury. I realize it’s time to update that picture in my head, because it’s not an either or choice. I need money. I want money.
Nowhere else in my life do I let myself off easy. In my work I put in the effort to get it right. With my remodeling or repair of my house, I have some darn high standards. So why would I lower my standards in my finances. There was a point I was trying to make when I first said I’d rather be happy than rich. It goes along with the proverb, It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home. – Proverbs 25:24
After living with a workaholic for so many years and longing for his companionship, my twisted logic kicked in. It seemed happiness equaled less money. It sounds silly I know, but beliefs and life scripts don’t always make sense. I’m no longer in that situation, so I’m updating my belief.
It’s a fool’s choice. It’s not real, much like fool’s gold. You have what you have. You either have money or you don’t. There’s no crossroads to meet the devil on, no trading of your soul for fame and fortune, no genie, no lamp, no lucky rabbit’s foot. Work, rest, enjoy what you have.
Why is it when I see beauty I think I need to own it? And when I think of owning something I become distressed because I can’t afford the object of beauty. So my faulty reasoning kicks in and tells me if I can’t own the beautiful object then I can’t enjoy the beauty. Not true.
I can still enjoy the beauty and the warm glow inside of me from seeing the beauty. Touching it. Smelling it. No one owns the sky and the clouds, but yet on a warm sunny day I feel the pleasure of the birds flying and the soft clouds floating.
Beauty can’t be contained. You can’t bottle it up and store some for later. It’s that moment. Only exactly that moment. Trying to describe the beautiful ruggedness of the Rocky Mountains and how the air is crisp in the morning when you climb the trails, is like trying to explain a joke. The punchline loses it’s punch. If I see something that I think is beautiful I have to stop at that moment and appreciate it. Someone beside me may see beauty also but I can’t explain the awe to them. Not with a thousand pictures. Take fewer pictures and live more moments.
I was watching the new Cosmos series with Neil de Grasse Tyson, when a new car advertisement comes on. It hits me suddenly and I have the urge, no, NEED to research Subaru. Why? Some subliminal reaction? I have a good car. I picked this particular car and don’t have a desire for a new one, but yet I still had the new car craving. Because if I had a new Subaru Outback I’d have adventure. I’d be young and trendy. I could explore and travel and I’d be happy! Subliminal messages are like a virus to me. Just like the latest diet craze, any new fact or interest I get tends to take me chasing rabbit trails.
Ways to distract myself from spending money
The trick is to catch it at the first urge. There’s a short pause between seeing the shiny apple hanging from the tree and thinking of the sweet taste it will leave in my mouth. Also, thinking of it being there, taunting me. It won’t stay there forever. Shouldn’t let it go to waste. Ah heck, I might as well just eat it. STOP. Somewhere before my hand reaches for the prize, I have to catch my spiraling thinking. Faulty logic. Enticing images. That’s my magic moment. If I can learn to catch myself before I hit the BUY button I’ll be okay.
There are methods to distract yourself. When I’m exercising I use distraction to hold a pose just a little longer. I sometimes tell myself I’ll run to the next stop sign, then turn around. Mostly it works. It’s almost like working with a child.
You may have already heard of the study done with the marshmallows. I’m going to repeat it because it fits with my thoughts on spending money.
The children were led into a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice (Oreo cookie, marshmallow, or pretzel stick) was placed on a table, by a chair. The children could eat the marshmallow, the researchers said, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.
Mischel observed as some would “cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can’t see the tray, others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal”, while others would simply eat the marshmallow as soon as the researchers left.
It’s a natural response to distract ourselves. You want to eat the cookie. The cookie is within reach, but you don’t. So from now on, if I can catch myself in that moment before I hit BUY, I will go clean the toilet!