Many people seem to wonder how I manage to spend so little. How come I don’t feel the need to “treat myself just a little?” After all, one cannot keep making sacrifices like that and not feel deprived. Right?
Perhaps you have already been on the receiving end of such a speech?
Personally, I have two explanations.
First, I am an extremely rational person. I mean, Spock is basically my spiritual brother.
So, it makes perfect sense to me to make “sacrifices” now, knowing that it’ll all pay off exponentially in the future. With that in mind, I have no interest in changing my strategy.
For example, why would I spend $1,000, or 38 hours of after-tax work (at my hourly rate), on some gadget, when I can buy a used one at a fraction of the price, then invest the balance? That amount, after several years of compounding, will pay for much more than a gadget planned to become obsolete.
Otherwise, besides my Vulcan brain, what keeps me happy in my frugal ways is practising gratitude on a daily basis.
In other words, I’m grateful for the simple things in life. You know, the little joys, beyond material possessions. As simple as that. I’d much rather enjoy what I do have, rather than desire what I don’t have. By doing so, there is simply no sense of deprivation.
Being Happy Everyday
Sure, my future financial independence will be very nice. But if I wait until then to be happy, the next five years will feel miserable.
So in the meantime, I enjoy the little things in life.
Every morning, I look forward to get out of bed for my delicious first sip of coffee.
I feel satisfaction every time I read a fascinating book that teaches me something or transport me to an imaginary world. I also enjoy having my cat sleeping on my lap while I read and sip my coffee.
I enjoy a nice car ride with music, playing air drums on my steering wheel while listening to In the Air Tonight or singing at the top of my lungs. If a moment of distraction has kept me from fully enjoying the best part of a song, I’ll just rewind it!
I savour every bite of a delicious meal that I took the time to prepare.
I revel in the fresh air in nature, listen intently to the sound of the wind in the leaves of a tree and delight in the feel of the sun on my skin. All of this is amplified during a delightful bike ride!
I get excited during an intense conversation about a topic I’m passionate about with a friend, loved one or loyal reader.
You’ll notice that these are all very mundane, everyday things. But if we don’t take the time to appreciate them, when will we ever be truly happy?
Objects Don’t Make You Happy
Sure, some of the things mentioned above require certain things or objects. However, it’s important to remember that what makes people happy are experiences.
Would I really be happier if I was reading in a mansion? Riding on a $10,000 bike? Doing a road trip in a Jaguar? Watching Star Trek on a 98″ 8K Smart TV? Eating my favourite meal at a 5-star restaurant?
Even if an object could increase my happiness, it’s rarely proportional to the price paid. Will my ride on a $10,000 bike really be ten times more enjoyable than on a $1,000 bike? A hundred times more enjoyable than on a $100 used bike ?
I doubt it.
Think about what really makes you happy in what you do. While everything has its price, it’s rarely justified to pay a fortune.
In fact, when people spend an unreasonable amount of money on an object, it’s rarely in the pursuit of happiness. It’s more likely to be a bad case of keeping up with the Joneses.
Expressing Joy Makes You Happy
I know some people with whom it’s impossible to tell whether they’re happy or not. It feels like they’re simply unable to express it. Even if, after the fact, they’ll say they were happy, no one could have guessed. I understand that no one expresses themselves the same way, but I find it confusing.
Personally, I have learned that it is not enough to be happy. You also have to express your joy. I actually have a friend who shares with me the good things that happen to him and how happy he is on a regular basis. I quickly realized how beneficial it was for him to say it and for me to hear it. So I started doing it too. It may sound silly, but now I never go through a meal without saying how delicious it is and how I’m enjoying it. When I finish a great book, I feel the need to share what a good read it was.
So, go to town. Express your joy and see how it suddenly becomes more tangible. Especially since joy can be so contagious. It’s much better to spread that than a virus. 😉
Another great way to express joy and gratitude, perhaps a little less publicly, is to write a gratitude journal. I have to admit that I felt a little silly the first few times I did it, but I decided to do the exercise anyway. Every night, I’d reflect on my day and look for whatever positive thing happened and what I was grateful for.
Let me tell you that in the midst of a pandemic, it definitely helped me identify the good things in my life and appreciate them. Because yes, even during tough times, there are good things. 🙂
Be Aware of Your Privilege
You know what else you should take a moment to appreciate?
How damn lucky you are.
Yes, yes, I’m well aware of the current pandemic.
But you know what? You’re not alone. We’re all in this together, to different degrees.
If you spend your time thinking about how much worse your life is compared to others, try doing the exercise in reverse. How is your life better than someone else’s? Be grateful for that, rather than just focusing on the negative. You will slowly see your outlook on life change.
The same principle applies to your financial situation. You may well criticize the famous 1%, or simply feel inadequate in comparison. However, when you look at the global scale, there’s a good chance you’re closer to the 1% than you thought. Take a look here, to see just how rich you are.
Honestly, we’re lucky to live in Canada.
Be aware of your status, your privileges and be grateful.
There is always someone worse off than you. It just depends on who you are comparing yourself to.
It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination
If we spend our time thinking something is missing in order to be happy, then we’ll never be happy.
When we take the time to appreciate what we already have, we’re already halfway there. Ultimately, happiness is the goal, isn’t it? So let’s stop putting it off. It’s all a matter of mindset.
Of course, like everyone else, there are some things I wish I could do right now, during this pandemic. But I assure you… it’s not about material possessions. What I want is to be able to spend time with friends and family without worry. I want to be able to invite friends over to my house, make them a delicious meal, have a drink and play board games.
But all things come to those who wait, apparently. 🙂
In the meantime, I would like to hear about your daily simple pleasures. Feel free to tell me about it in the comment section!