“Don’t Worry! Be Happy” and Take Control of Your Life.
Life is Better Without Worry.
I was sitting on my deck recently watching my kids in the yard play their version of football. It basically consisted of one of them throwing the ball to the other. And then the one without the ball tried to tackle the one with the ball. If they made the tackle, then they would start over again at that spot. Otherwise it was a touchdown. Of course the older, bigger one would usually win.
But it was simple really. All they needed was a relatively flat spot in the yard, and a football. And they were entertained for hours. And to add to their fun, they were getting some great exercise also.
But it got me to thinking, when did we as adults lose that ability to make a game out of anything? When did life become about work and trials and hardship? And less about simple fun and just living worry free? Perhaps it was when the bills start piling up, and the month becomes to long for the money? Or maybe it was when the weight of responsibility became real?
We’ve Spread Our Budget Too Thin.
I guess the bigger question is, how did we let it get this way? From my perspective, we listened to too many voices. Voices that were pulling us in many different directions. They were, and are, all competing for our time and money. Or like the Samurai’s advice to Tom Cruise in the the movie “The Last Samurai”, “Too many mind . . . too many mind.”
So what voices do we listen to?
We listen to the advertisements and commercials that sell us on the newest car model. We listen to our friends who raved about their latest trip to the Bahamas. Sometimes we listen to our neighbors who trumpet the benefits of this lawn service and that cable company. And we listened to the voices in our heads that tell us we need more stuff to be popular and attractive.
If you listened to any of those voices, you’re likely in debt for something you may or may not even like or use anymore: a vacation, a car you can’t afford, or the newest iPhone.
And then, life suddenly becomes more complicated. We now have many more things to worry about. And all these things stretch our already skimpy budget to the breaking point.
And it’s not that these things are wrong or bad, it’s the why behind these purchases. Why did you go on that vacation? Why did you buy that new truck? And why did you update your one year old iPhone for the newest one? Do you worry about what others think?
Personal finance is mostly about behavior, and one of the most important questions you can ask is: Why? Why are we buying ____ ? You fill in the blank.
Simplify Your Finances and Don’t Worry
My kids don’t need a lined field with pads and referees to have fun playing football. Their why is simple. They wanted to have fun. And instead of whining about what they didn’t have (pads, field, refs), they made use of what they did have have. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that.
I wrote a post recently about keeping things simple, and it turned into one of my most popular articles. You can check it out here if you haven’t yet read it.
I think the answer is, we forgot to keep it simple. And not just in finances. Though if you simplify your finances, I think you’ll find some peace. It may not answer all the issues of life, but without any money problems, how much better would you sleep at night?
Anyway, while I was watching my kids tackle each other, I realized that in general kids have the answer to enjoying and making the most out of life. They may not know it, but if you look closely you can see it. They have an optimism and a general carefree attitude that we could learn from.
No matter what they have or don’t have, they make the best of it. They can play with anything and have a great time.
Instead of listening to all the outside influences that are trying to get you spend your hard-earned money, why not make the most of what you do have? Learn to be content with what you have. Take a lesson from some kids.
If you think you need that new car to be happy, know that you’ll always be chasing the next new thing. Because that new car won’t be new for long. And just like the new car, other stuff won’t make you happy either.
So, instead of worrying about this payment or that debt, start actually doing something about it. Use the snowball method to destroy your debt. I know it’s easier said than done, but you can do it. You just have to start.
And regain your optimism. Life just seems brighter and easier with unnecessary money problems. Take it from me. With only a quickly diminishing mortgage left to payoff, my family and I are certainly enjoying life.
So, how are you doing? Is life dragging you down, or you an eternal optimist?
Thanks for reading, and sharing. I would appreciate any comments as well.