Money. It’s on everyone’s mind these days. In fact, there are very few people that are living in such a state of financial stability that they don’t consider their finances before making even simple purchases. A report by Newsweek proclaimed that coupon use has increased by 35% over the past 12 months and that credit card purchases, new home buys, high-ticket item purchases and vacations are still on the decline. Today, when you shop at your favorite stores you are trying to be more careful than ever before.
By the same token, with these financial struggles – doctors are seeing more incidences of depression and anxiety related diseases and disordered. Emergency room visits due to stress triggered illness are at all time highs, yet more and more people are less likely to see a doctor for routine visits in efforts to avoid high medical bills. With unemployment at record highs and more and more people losing their homes to foreclosure than every before, it is obvious that money makes the world go round. Few people have planned or expected a time in their life where money woes would interfere with their happiness. This indicates that the strings between our finances and happiness are perhaps tied too closely together. This is sad first and foremost because there is more to life than money.
In order to live this lesson, we must all first begin searching inside of us for the simple pleasures in life. From walking in the brisk evening air, to experiencing a summer thunderstorm eating popcorn on a screened porch – it is time to get back to the real world. This real world can have us carrying an empty wallet, but a full heart – that truly appreciates all the “non-things” we do have in our lives. The trick is replacing our preconceived notions of happiness and success with feelings of satisfaction rather than feelings of constant lack. For hard working families, this can be a hard lesson to learn and teach to their children. It can be painful to tell them no, to rescind their cries for new jeans or a new softball uniform when just a short time ago you wouldn’t have given either a second thought. And while extending the ‘no’ can hurt, stretching the finances to a painful breaking point will make you feel even worse.
The truth is that we reap what we sow. This old age lesson parallels the new age metaphysical thought that we create our own realities. For those that don’t buy in, it can seem pathetic to simply dream ourselves into a new life of prosperity when we are eating potatoes for dinner for the 4th night in a row. Yet, it is worth a try! There truly is more to life than money. If you spend your time worrying, fretting and disgruntled about the bills flooding the mailbox; or struggling to get through one month, just to make it to the next financially – you are overshadowing your own life with gloom and doom. This unfortunately steals any opportunity you have to enjoy the simple pleasures or to dig deep back into the creative and passionate world inside you. You will become saddened and each and every moment will be within the quotation marks of ‘not having enough.’
On the flip side, should you decide gratefully, that you are at least able to rob Peter to pay Paul each and every week, you might see the sunlight between the trees. There are many people who are so stuck financially that they have tapped out every resource to pay and have no further options. Being grateful for what you do have, your job, family and enjoying the simple pleasures can get you from one day to the next without making you feel as if your life is a failure. Many people have become accustomed to entertaining themselves with things that cost a lot of money. You want the expensive family vacation, the nice new car, the perfectly decorated house. Yet, remove these things or the ability to maintain this sort of plastic lifestyle and you instantly become drained of enthusiasm for life.
So what are the simple pleasures? It is easy to be trite and list numerous things that include snuggling with a spouse, the smell of your clean baby, and the food on the table. But simple pleasures are more than that and should be. Each and every moment that we live we are offered the chance to live authentically and fully in each moment, or to spend it feeling a lack of something. Rather than feel that the only way you can enjoy your summer is by spending it at a timeshare, you should find the same feelings of togetherness and rest with the people you love right in your own home. If you can recreate the feelings of satisfaction and success in each moment, you can live your life experiencing a string of simple pleasures. One right after the other. Teaching your children how to make scrambled eggs, starting a family exercise program where you start each day walking together. Utilizing public facilities like ballparks and bike trails to get in your recreational activities and staying close to home to swim in lakes, beaches and experience nature. Simple pleasures can be saving money on your groceries and living with much less yet feeling fuller than ever before.
If you can strip away all of the materialistic thoughts and balance out your wants versus your needs, you will be left with a life that is not only simpler, but much easier to enjoy as well. Think for a minute about all the things that are causing you stress and fear. Chances are that most of them revolve around money and that you are spending your time thinking about not having it. If you decide to see what you DO HAVE, rather than what you don’t – your focus will shift to the positive and you will quickly change the face of your life for you and your family. If your children see you living fully each and every day despite the lack of things, they too will be reminded of the simple pleasures and you will be allowing them to live happily, no matter what the world around them is doing.
Obviously, money is important. However, it is important to realize that money is not the measure of success or familial happiness. Money doesn’t take things away from us – but actually gives us a chance to get our mindset right, so that we can live with or without it. Millions of people in this world live in a state of poverty that most of us could not imagine. And while we shouldn’t feel bad for expecting or wanting more for ourselves, we also shouldn’t be limited by a number value in our bank accounts. Our dreams, aspirations, and future are not dictated by what we have or do not have. Yes, money can make many things easier – but it can also act as a blinder that makes our vision obscure. If you can live with money, you should also be able to live without it. Living without money abundance doesn’t dictate an unfulfilled life; rather it forces us to be creative in our thinking and simple in our choices for finding pleasure. When the money returns, we will much better off having lived without it and reconnecting to the simple things in our lives that bring us happiness.