I was recently reading a poll by Gallup that talked about how many people were worried about their jobs. It made me realize that I have never actually been worried that I would be laid off. I understand that it could happen, and I understand what the effects would be if it did happen. However, the fear of being unemployed has never been present. I also realized that I have structured my life in such a way that I can be happy, and I am not so set in my ways that I will be unhappy if my life must change.
Along the lines of the fear of losing one’s job is the fear of not being successful. There is a lot thrust up on us from the preceding generations about being successful. Take for instance this great article about why Generation Y is unhappy. There is a perceived lifestyle that many people think they deserve. When they do not get it, they become unhappy. The key to happiness is being able to adjust your expectations to fit any lifestyle.
What that all boils down to is flexibility. This means that you do not get too comfortable with any given lifestyle. If you certainly MUST have cable television, a fancy car, a big house, and other luxuries, chances are you will be miserable. You will spend all of your time working in order to afford the things that you can’t use because you are too busy working. HOWEVER, that does not mean that you should not indulge in certain luxuries. There is a balance; they should not be a staple of your everyday life. Rather than NEED the luxuries, enjoy them when you get the chance, but only need the necessities.
I am often shocked when people tell me that they are bored. And honestly, I do not hear it nearly as much anymore now that my circle of friends has grown and most have families of their own (as the parent of a very active 10 month old, I can tell you it is not possible to be bored around him). But there still comes a time when I see someone post online that they are bored. We live in an amazing world that is rich with opportunities to explore. Everyone has hobbies, and if you have so much time on your hands that you are becoming bored, you should start a side hustle. Rather than be unhappy because you have nothing to do, focus your life on the things that you like to do. Cut the expenses that don’t matter, like car insurance, cell phone bills, cable TV, and the like. And then splurge on the things that make you happy. Want to buy a $2,000 kayak? Go for it. If kayaking is what makes you happy. Spend a few thousand to travel around the world. Buy those rare books for your collection. Just structure your life so that you can spend on the things you love.One of the biggest ways to lead you straight to poverty, and be miserable the whole way there, is trying to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, if you asked the Joneses, you would find that they are so debt laden that they cannot even keep up with themselves. Instead of focusing your desires on having what everyone else has, focus your desires on what you have. Spend time doing the things that matter, the ones that don’t cost anything. For instance, instead of going out for a big fancy dinner for date night, throw a blanket down in the back yard and spend the evening playing cribbage and drinking a bottle of wine. The memories will be just as lasting, you will save a bundle, and you might learn something about your significant other.
Happiness is something that many Americans do not have. In fact, we are number 10 on the latest Forbes happiness list. The biggest cause of being unhappy is the fact that what we think we deserve does not match up to what we actually have. Instead, completely refocusing on what makes us happy (family, friends, a casual stroll through the park, hobbies, and the like) instead of the things that we THINK will make us happy (a big house, a nice car, eating out at fancy restaurants, a high paying job that demands hundreds of hours of overtime every year, etc.) is the only way to get that inner peace that some people seem to have. From my work experience, I know people that make millions of dollars per year, and I know those that make very little. Those that make millions are stressed, irritable, and demanding. Those that make very little are (often) very relaxed, easy going and happy. Which would you rather be?
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