True Happiness Costs Nothing; Fact or Fallacy?
If you're anything like me, you likely treat everyday as a school-day and today (Sunday) was no different.. my wife and I spent some time by the lake with a couple of good books.. enjoying great coffee, delectable cake and all-consuming conversation..
All-consuming because we were challenging the notion that true happiness costs nothing
I had with me the latest release of a best-seller financial self-help book and nearly fell off my chair at the inherent contradictions
On one page, the author (who shall remain unnamed; that's not what we're about) suggested that "the things which make you happiest are those things that don't cost you any money".. then proceeded to list the things that made him happy.. listening to his favourite CD.. spending time with friends.. taking the dog out for a walk
So far so good (kind of.. more on that in a minute)
Then, turning the page, he continued the rhetoric that noticing the "richness" in your life already will attract more of it in to your life
Again, not hugely controversial but... It was the next bit that really troubled us...
Before the page had ended, the author listed the things that make us rich which we should be noticing every day (I've quoted as closely as I can without defaming the author by giving away the publication):
Working a job that makes you happy
Buying the things you love
Going to a restaurant and ordering whatever you want
Giving a donation to your favourite charity
Which begs the question; exactly which of the four things listed "are those things that don't cost you any money"?
Working a job that makes you happy is a utopia that most never reach because they're too busy working a job they hate because it (nearly) pays the bills
Buying the things you love is the pandemic that is leading families in to bigger levels of consumer debt since the 2008 crash; which makes people poorer and unhappier in the long term so could never be a way in which to "notice richness" for most
Going to the restaurant and ordering whatever you want; is that before or after you've spent money that you don't have buying the things you can't afford? Utter nonsense
Giving a donation to your favourite charity; the irony here is that the ONE THING that will really bring a sense of fulfilment was mentioned as a throw-away afterthought... Indeed, speak to most people and they'all tell you that the reason they don't give to charity is because they can't afford to
And that brought me full circle to the very weak attempt to justify the statement "the things which make you happiest are those things that don't cost you any money" in the first place
Listening to your favourite CD: requires money to buy a CD player and CD.. requires money to pay the household bills so that you actually enjoy listening to the music without the hangover of financial challenge.. requires money to afford not to work 18-hour days flipping burgers in order to sit down in a plush chair and crank up the volume on Beethoven!
Spending time with friends: unless you're hugging trees or making daisy chains in the woods, spending time with friends costs more today than it has ever done. Two coffees, two toasties and a slice of chocolate cake cost my wife and I nearly £20, plus the time and fuel cost; for the audience that this guy's book was written for, that is A LOT of money that could otherwise go towards paying down a credit card or topping up the electricity meter!
Taking the dog for a walk: seemingly a "free" activity.. except that owning a dog in the first places costs a big chunk of coin (our cat costs at least £250 per month over the year... not including when she leaves the taps running!) and besides, it's not taking the dog for a walk that brings the joy. It's taking the dog for a walk because you "want" to take the dog for a walk and not just because you feel you "must" take the dog for a walk. Additionally, if you're taking the dark cloud of financial woe with you on the walk, then there's very little chance that you'll enjoy any part of the walk. Or, at best, the walk provides light relief until you get back home to the shit storm that is your economic ecosystem
SURE.. it's likely that my generalisations are no better or worse than the author's. But what troubles me is that following a VERY weak attempt to show that "the things which make you happiest are those things that don't cost you any money", the author proceeds to give examples of things to look out for that make you feel rich which ALL COST MONEY!!!!!!
The reason this causes me to have such an emotive response is because when I was £107,000 in debt, the ONLY thing that I worked on was (a) My IMPERATIVE to create wealth, (b) My personal ECONOMICS and (c) My automated MONEY MACHINE
Looking around for examples of richness in my life simply wasn't an option because I had none; so instead I had to find a delicate balance between "gratitude" and "dissatisfaction" (more on that another day)
So the conclusion we reached is that in a modern world driven by money, where time and bias comfort (therefore true peace of mind) both come at a financial cost, the real truth is that enjoying those things that come for "free" requires a base level of financial comfort; in the wealth orbits model, this requires you to be at level 3 at least but the magic doesn't happen until at least level 4 (click here to request the Wealth Orbits Matrix that illustrates all 9 orbits)
The peace of mind associated with a basic level of financial comfort should never be underestimated and I think that a lot of the financial freedom/abundance rhetoric does a bad job of helping people to understand that life is going to be a massive struggle unless you do whatever it takes to get yourself to a place where you have more money coming in than going out
In the short term this may involve (as it did for me) getting in to more debt as you learn new skills, experiment with new ideas and try out new businesses.. It goes without saying that if getting in to more debt is the reality for you, the IMPERATIVE to get cash-flow positive needs to be even stronger as is advocated at every level of Wealth Orbits
Concluding then, I simply don't agree that you can achieve true and lasting happiness if your basic needs aren't met and any effort to scrape the bottom of a dark barrel looking for "riches" are a short-live mindhack (that can sometimes be very destructive) until you return back to the hard-hitting reality that you have financial challenges to resolve
I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts on this and whether I've got it all wrong... Drop a comment in the box below and let's open up a discussion... I reply to all comments personally so be sure to let me know what you're thinking...