MISTAKE NO. 1 - THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR Let's face it, our culture revolves around $$$. Practically from birth we're taught that money equals happiness. Those who have it are entrenched in the belief that wealth is a necessity and acquiring more is even better. Those who are born without the proverbial golden spoon are perhaps even more obsessed with obtaining it.
But if you visit other countries or many economically strapped places right here in the U.S., you'll find millions--yes MILLIONS--of happy people who have very little or no money.
MISTAKE NO. 2 - SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY How can this be true, you may ask? If you're obsessed with thinking that you can't be happy, can't do the things you want, or attract the person you desire unless you're wealthy, then the above is false. You will, indeed, need a lot of cash to be happy. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Here's an example. Years ago, when I worked in the Western Highlands of New Guinea on an archaeological project, I found the native people to be among the happiest--and poorist--people I'd ever met. Aside from the basics which they had in adequate supply, they said they needed very little else. They chewed beetle nut and sang and smiled like they meant it. Then Europeans and other Westerners brought Euro/American goods to these isolated New Guinea highlands, which began a period of strife among the local inhabitants based on hoarding and greed. They now felt they "needed" a great deal more. Sound familiar?
But you don't have to travel to foreign lands to find evidence of the $= Happiness mentality. You only have to look around. I'll bet you can find hundreds of examples.
IDEAS FOR CHANGE I've been living off a mere pittance for many years and count myself among the happiest people I know. I don't pretend that what works for me will work for everyone.
But here's my list of recommendations:
1. Adopt the attitude that food, clothing and shelter are basic needs and everything else is a luxury. Being grateful for what you have works wonders.
2. Stop equating money with happiness. You have the power to do that.
3. Be responsible for your own happiness.
4. Stop the "if only" syndrome. You can be happy just the way things are.
5. Simplify your life. The fewer things you own, the fewer things you have to worry about losing. (That point hit home for me after a fire destroyed about 90\% of my belongings. Oddly enough, it lifted a weight from my shoulders--the desire to have and acquire more things.)
6. Use your boundless imagination to alter your money-driven mindset.
7. Give to others. It can be a source of great happiness.
RESOURCES There are a lot of self-help books out there on the topic of finding happiness. The Secret is one that comes to mind. You may discover your own solutions. Whether you read or find inspiration elsewhere, the point is to choose whatever path works for you.
ATTITUDE When I banished fear and made up my mind to be happy regardless of whether I had money or not, my life changed decidedly for the better.
Am I always happy? Hardly. It's not a Pollyanna-laughing-continuously existence I seek. It's something deeper and more satisfying.
Corny as it may sound, I consider every minute on this planet a gift. Maybe that's why I'm happy.
Tips and Warnings
Well...my approach requires imagination on your part. It also requires you to put aside your doubting, cynical nature for a minute. Bet you can do those things.
This article isn't particularly complicated or long. And I doubt if it's unique. Can it work? Well...it's definitely working for me. And the folks around me who've tried it (most of my poor friends) report positive feedback.
So, let's get on with it.