A friend of mine who suffered greatly caring for her ailing parents found herself an orphan in her 20s. She was left with such an inheritance that she could – by her own admission – stay in her room and live on take-out the rest of her life. Meaning, she was set. My friend was free to live not to work and to work not to live. As the obligation of employment did not weigh on her life, she was free to dream whatever she dared with the means to transform it to reality.
She lives with the guilt to this day.
Because, she says, it is her parents’ money she is sitting on, not something she herself had earned. No matter that she worked hard all her life in school, that she made it in the world of finance as an Ivy league graduate. When life served her comfort on a silver platter and swept clear her runway, she sank into depression.
Her response back then intrigued me as I looked on while flailing for a financial foothold, after I had managed to study and make it into the world of designer clothes and country club dining, my life before and after this season a hazardous patch of thin ice. I grew up watching my parents scrounge and sweat, life without money struggles a most curious fantasy. It happened to some but surely would pass me over. But the bitterness of the little girl became gratitude; in my newfound Christian faith, I realized that with so little I had nothing to lose. And provisions would come my way in the most timely moments. I was about to shop for wardrobe to interview for head of the Gifted and Talented Program when my mother fell ill. I rushed back home to New York three hours away from Pennsylvania to end up tied to her in the hospital until the eve of the big day. I was going to set out for the interview as unprepared as I could be when Mom sheepishly told me about the suit she couldn’t resist picking up outside a ritzy building on Lexington Avenue before I rushed over to her. She had spotted it in an expensive trash pile after a long day of babysitting. Fit me perfectly and though I walked into my important meeting late, having gotten lost in the rain, I got the job over the women who looked the part of the upper-middle class echelon. I felt like Cinderella, though I’m not sure she was a bookworm. The assistant superintendent of the district put to me a grammar question the Caucasian candidates couldn’t answer. I know. Some of you are smiling. See? Learn your grammar. When later that year I told my principal the tale of the castaway suit, she remembered the way I’d walked in that day, said I looked sharp, she never would’ve known. But Cinderella did have to leave the ball.
When I left the district, there I was again – savings now depleted and too sick to work on my 30th birthday. Money can’t buy happiness but it sure pays the bills and puts food in your mouth. I know what it is to teeter on a tightrope without a net. One semester in college I sold my guitar so I could eat. The black hand of powerlessness slips a mask over your head and breathing becomes difficult. Now, you’d think it’s freedom on the other side of poverty, on the wide green grass of options. But even there you can become strapped, or paralyzed. And instead of joy, you might find despair.
In his book and TED Talk, Barry Schwartz sheds light on what he calls the paradox of choice.
With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all. I’ll give you one very dramatic example. A colleague of mine got access to investment records from Vanguard. And what she found is that for every 10 mutual funds the employer offered, rate of participation went down two percent. You offer 50 funds and 10 percent fewer employees participate than if you only offer five. Why? Because with 50 funds to choose from, it’s so damn hard to decide which fund to choose that you’ll just put it off until tomorrow. And then tomorrow, and then tomorrow. So paralysis is a consequence of having too many choices. That’s one effect [of the power of choice].
Another is the escalation of expectations. This hit me when I went to replace my jeans. The shopkeeper said, “Do you want slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit? You want button fly or zipper fly? You want stonewashed or acid-washed? Do you want them distressed? You want boot cut, you want tapered, blah blah blah …” My jaw dropped, and after I recovered, I said, “I want the kind that used to be the only kind.” I spent an hour trying on all these damn jeans, and I walked out of the store — truth! — with the best-fitting jeans I had ever had. All this choice made it possible for me to do better. But I felt worse. Why with all of these options available, my expectations about how good a pair of jeans should be went up. I had no particular expectations when they only came in one flavor. When they came in 100 flavors, damn it, one of them should’ve been perfect. And what I got was good, but it wasn’t perfect. And so I compared what I got to what I expected, and what I got was disappointing in comparison to what I expected. Adding options to people’s lives can’t help but increase the expectations people have about how good those options will be. And what that’s going to produce is less satisfaction with results, even when they’re good results.
The reason that everything was better back when everything was worse is that it was actually possible for people to have experiences that were a pleasant surprise. Nowadays, the world we live in – we affluent, industrialized citizens, with perfection the expectation – the best you can ever hope for is that stuff is as good as you expect it to be. You will never be pleasantly surprised because your expectations, my expectations, have gone through the roof. The secret to happiness is low expectations.
Finally, one consequence of buying a bad-fitting pair of jeans when there is only one kind to buy is that when you are dissatisfied and you ask why, who’s responsible, the answer is clear: the world is responsible. What could you do? When there are hundreds of different styles of jeans available and you buy one that is disappointing, and you ask why, who’s responsible? It is equally clear that the answer to the question is you. You could have done better. With a hundred different kinds of jeans on display, there is no excuse for failure. And so when people make decisions, even though the results are good, they feel disappointed about them; they blame themselves.
Clinical depression has exploded in the industrial world in the last generation. I believe a significant contributor is that people have experiences that are disappointing because their standards are so high, and then when they have to explain these experiences to themselves, they think they’re at fault. And so we do better in general, objectively, and we feel worse. There’s no question that some choice is better than none, but it doesn’t follow from that that more choice is better than some choice. There’s some magical amount. I don’t know what it is. I’m pretty confident that we have long since passed the point where options improve our welfare.
He knows me. I hate Walmart. I don’t care about the prices. Store’s just too big and I lose precious time searching for what I want. There are few things I loathe more than shopping for jeans, which is why I’ve stuck with two pairs the last ten years. This is what likely happened to my orphan friend: she became overwhelmed at the gala of work and life options that had opened for her. We pine and claim we could’ve done better if we’d been dealt a kinder hand. Loaded with all the resources anyone could hope for; money, time, smarts, education, she stared into the dark mirror. How could she best use her talents, make an impact, do justice to her parents’ gift of sacrifice? She was naked, stripped of excuses. What if her choice wasn’t good enough? Oh, the burden of getting it right.
115 thoughts on “The Secret to Happiness”
I think this article may explain why I’m afraid to buy a new dishwasher! I’m worried that I’ll get it wrong, when–with all the research options available to me–I feel that I should be able to pick the best dishwasher out there. Interesting TED talk, and the experience that your friend had of being overwhelmed by her sudden wealth was a good extension of his thoughts.
Thanks for the feedback, Sandi. You got it on that dishwasher. EXACTLY how I feel on the threshold of a major purchase.
I’ve often thought that stores should each carry only one product. Then the question would not be “which do you want” but rather, “how many”.
On inheritance, I have a relative by marriage who, some thirty years ago, was placed into “abject financial independence” through an inheritance. Her response was to become reclusive, remain single and to allow her home to deteriorate while being filled with hoarded possessions.
Her case is obviously a pathology but one that could never have been enabled short of the inheritance. Some blessings are indeed mixed.
Stores: YES! I don’t know if my English friends can corroborate but about twenty years ago someone told me she drowned in remorse at the sight of endless choices on chocolate in the States. She was used to just a handful in England.
WEALTH: I could see why she stayed single. I didn’t get into all the different angles on the post but my friend faced the issue of trust when she came into the money. She stopped feeling safe with relatives, didn’t know whom to date or marry or when to tell him how much she had. She was pretty miserable. Fascinating and sad.
You – Nail – Head- Hit !!!!
I — Like — How — You — Said — That!!
Excellent post. This relates in so many areas of life, even beyond purchasing things. As a seminary student we talk about the idea of choice in regards to salvation as well. There is debate in theology about whether one chooses to accept God or if God chooses people. The effect of these beliefs has the same effect as what you’ve written about. This could go on and on to so many areas of life. Great job.
Thank you. This was a loaded post that snowballed notes I took all year. I completely understand your observations. =) So are you a Calvinist or Armenian?
Neither, I’m a Lutheran.
Right. Duh (me). =)
Very thought-provoking Diana, I think this summarises a little nagging feeling in the back of my mind about life, in some ways, being less magical these days. Not because there isn’t magic there, but because everything is so available and we’re led to believe that everything is in our grasp so that we feel that sense of dissatisfaction when we don’t get what we think we want.
Glad this spoke to you, Andrea. Your troubled sentiments describe to a T my concern over the way our kids are growing up nowadays, esp in the wealthiest nation in the world. And as a parent, it can get quite tricky. How to inspire our children into the possibilities that really are theirs and motivate them to WORK for them – with gladness?
‘The secret to happiness is low expectations.’ I have always thought this! My life has always been much better and richer than I ever expected, and I am happy 🙂
This post was four in one. =) The TED Talk alone was so rich (pun intended) and yes, the conclusion on expectations is a post all its own, tied to and separable from money. Which is why Barry wrote his book. =) Can you share some of the areas you let go of expectations? Glad to hear from you on this, Wendy. Thank you so much for staying with me. =)
Yes, I did read the whole post, honest 🙂 but this just jumped out at me! I don’t know really, what can I say, I am an optimist but don’t expect the world to owe me a living, and my atheist, skeptical approach to life means that if bad stuff happens I don’t think it is for any reason, just that that’s life and it’s how you deal with things that makes your life worth living. I enjoy following your posts 🙂
Oh, I knew you read it, Wendy!! Any implication otherwise was not even in my head. I was simply following up for some examples, wanted to know you better, is all. =)
Thanks for your time.
Great piece, resonate completely. Sense of belonging and identity followed by guilt are in order. After spending so many years amidst many but yet struggled with belongingnessless (if that’s a word) followed by guilt of not giving back enough. Feeling arise from knowing many more are still struggling with what I’ve made peace with. Why do I have to feel guilty for my ‘escape’? – Feels good to give back nonetheless but what is enough?
That’s quite a load of struggles. I’m not sure if you can be more specific about them but it’s been interesting to see some of “our” themes from this year surface again and again and overlay one another. And good ques you ask. What IS enough?
Ha Holistic W – Yea, please forgive my ramblings if I have confused you. I grew up in a small town in Nigeria where since I was little struggle with sense of belonging and identity as my the little section I was born into have never really ‘belonged’ to any tribe 100% of the time so this hangs over my head. So growing up one thing lead to another I ‘escaped’ the rat race physically but mentally I am consumed with the thoughts of ‘saving’ the others and that comes with ‘giving’ both emotional and financial help so much so that little luxury I could enjoy becomes a guilty as I feel it can go a long way…
Sorry, you probably didn’t bargain for so much information but that is what sense of belonging and identity to me.
It’s all okay though at least I have stories to tell of it 🙂
Ha ha wow. Yes, you do have a lot to share on your blog. =) Thanks so much.
I will admit – I love musicals and show tune lyrics could fulfill many a mantra…
There is a fantastic song from, Porgy and Bess, titled: I Got Plenty o’ Nothin’. In the lyrics by Gershwin and Heyward, Porgy sings – “…the more you got, the more you worry, the devil’s gonna take it away…away…”
I never really listened to the lyrics on that one, AnnMarie. Perfect here. Thanks for reading and sharing. =)
whew! This is one great post and one to which I can totally relate. Nailed it perfectly, Diana.
Thanks so much, L. Really hurt my brain putting it together, but response like yours makes it all worth it. =) Which part spoke to you?
Especially the part about options. Women I work with wonder why I don’t want to head out to the mall at lunch. Seriously? I don’t go to the mall at all–too overwhelming. Give me small, local downtown shops. Does it restrict my choices? Not really. It is my choice to have less choices. I walk out of a small shop very happy–whether I have bought or not. Lots of choice is not always a good thing. And I thought it was just me… 🙂
“It is my choice to have less choices.”
And no, I feel the same, along with the masses – not just you. =)
Thx for elaborating.
Although I understand your point of view I am not sure I feel the key to happiness is low expectaions. Albert Schweitzer said “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” For me if happiness is a new pair of shoes then one can never be happy as the minute I buy them or wear them they are no longer new. Happiness comes not from those things or articles we fill our houses or closets with but the sharing of that human experieince be it as simple as hugging your son or teaching him to ride a bike or making a difference in a neighbour’s life. True Happiness or perhaps contentment comes from within and not from all those extrinsic rewards.
When I look at your picture at the top of your blog can there be a better example of Happiness..
Precious, James (the reference to my son) .=) I wAs implicitly agreeing with Barry but he wasn’t saying happiness has an external source, wasn’t laying it all down there. I found his take very interesting when I heard the Talk some ten months ago or so because it almost sounded cynical. Very New York of him – NY, where he seems to be from. (I smell a post on the influence of our surroundings on our perceptions and values ha ha.) But his proposition has borne out in my life and I see its effects on many lives. I’ve been told I’m difficult to please. I’ve considered mentioning someday here how I reach for the milk carton in the back for the freshest, how there’s a job out there for me as food inspector. I want the best as a consumer. I’m so good at it I’m not sure it’s tiring for me trapped in this demanding body but I’m sure it’d be tiring to watch. I agree with you – I don’t see anyone wouldn’t. You’re speaking of something separable from the topic of expectations (to the extent Barry wasn’t saying happiness stems from material gain per se) and yet related; I share in Lessons from My 30s, the post that launched A Holistic Journey, how I’ve learned not to expect from people but to give. I’ve been a lot happier.
I too felt overwhelmed when I inherited a sizable amount of money after my mom died. This event coincided with graduating from college. I ended up in a mediocre job, despite my excellent academic record. I always attributed that to prioritizing being near my husband above my own success. Now, I have another explanation.
I should add that my dad stole part of that inheritance, after I gave him power of attorney. What he did was criminal, but I gave him that power. Deep down, I know it was because I didn’t want the money. I would have given it all back because of the unwanted weight of responsibility it gave me, and because I wanted my mom back.
It’s long since been paid back, and spent. What remains is that paralyzing expectation/fear to succeed.
Wow, Elizabeth. Quite a parallel with my friend. “I would have given it all back because of the unwanted weight of responsibility it gave me, and because I wanted my mom back.” I can see more clearly that the money proved or sealed her parents’ death in her eyes.
“attributed that to prioritizing being near my husband above my own success. Now, I have another explanation. ”
Do you mean now – having read this – you see your actions and feelings about the inheritance differently?
“It’s long since been paid back, and spent.” What remains is that paralyzing expectation/fear to succeed.
May I ask what you mean by paid back? Does your fear/expectation still tie in with your inheritance or your mother?
Excellent piece! I often think that those who can afford everything also become disheartened because they have nothing in the material realm to hope and plan for. Most anything that can be purchased is already at their disposal. I remember being in my 20s and mid 30s with a thrift store sofa and an apartment of unmatched furniture with no dishwasher, or washer and dryer. For years all I dreamed about was having nice things in my home. When I finally married and was able to have those things with both of our incomes, my appreciation level was through the roof with excitement. Even now, 15 years later, I still marvel at the fact that I don’t have to leave the house to do laundry and that I can pop the dinner dishes into the dishwasher and spend time with my family. The appreciation never escapes me. Of course, my greatest source of happiness isn’t the things that I have, but the people, experiences and health that I have in my life.
It’s because most of us live striving for a more comfortable future that I found the Talk so interesting and my friend’s struggles a powerful testament to the deeper longings of the human heart. I can relate to your own story – except for the dishwasher bc the one that came with the house sucks, which is why I often talk about the damn dishes lol. You make me want to replace the machine. A quandary, for this penny-pincher. =) Thanks for connecting.
That money thing always is an issue with mankind. The pride in having it, fear in not; defining ourselves by either one. I prefer Paul’s take on it; he learned how to live in humble means, and how to live in prosperity. He was content. And I do believe that is a great secret to happiness.
It looks so simple and tidy the way you tied it up so well. But it remains such a tricky thing, money and contentment and all.
And actually, yes, I have in fact echoed Paul’s words on this over the years. =) Through the plenty and the want.
This brings me to something I experienced recently. When I immigrated to Canada last year, the malls seemed like gigantic monsters spurting out one brand after another. It was insane. I have plenty of choices back home, but this is an all new level. Buying jeans would have been torture if it weren’t for my sweet sister-in-law who took me to her favorite, trusted place. Consumerism, industrialism are all great and fancy but on a day to day level, it all frazzles the mind! From egg shopping to shoes, if you let it get in your head, there’s a huge chance of losing one’s mind. There’s something my mother-in-law always says and I tend to agree. Middle class people with not too many options (what we wear, what we eat, where we study etc.) are always better off. They know they should only opt for things they absolutely NEED, while a few fleeting WANTS would do to satisfy the cravings.
Well put, Nida. You sound just like the English woman I mentioned to Rixlibris here. She was overwhelmed when she landed in American supermarkets. I’ve always felt exactly as Barry did with the jeans. Just shoot me! Thanks for being here.
Your right, more is not better. Too many choices often makes for no choices, and leads one to experience analysis paralysis. I subscribe to the following phrase: “K.I.S.S.”- Keep It Simple Stupid.
I know KISS from my time in sales. =)
The thing is, Alan, even when we know this, MORE is the song of the human heart.
At least, just a little more.
Happiness comes not from having what you want, but wanting what you have. I don’t know who said this originally, but I think it’s a good quote!
I don’t know if I buy it, D. An hours worth of internet research on almost any major product will limit your options to something that is easy to handle. As for clothes, if you make the wrong decision, donate your wrong decision to charity. Somebody will put it to good use and you can feel good about it. Go out and try something else. It isn’t like choosing what to wear is a major life decision. If having everything is getting you down, go without for a while, simplify your life. I spent 25 years leading 9-day, hundred mile backpack trips. People didn’t have the amenities they were used to having. They slept on the ground, ate backpacking food, spent hours every day struggling over mountains on one of the most challenging things they ever did. For many, it was a life changing event, and for all, it helped them appreciate their every day comforts. And, they raised significant amounts of money for charity to go on the trips. –Curt
Not sure where we have to disagree, though I’m not afraid to =). We’re not robots and the Talk wasn’t laying down a law. I’m sure Barry would agree with you.
Generally speaking, more isn’t better if it gets hard to count. I think this strikes a chord with many because as I said to Alan here, our penchant is for the MORE. Knowing that some of the most miserable people are the wealthiest, we still wish we had just a LiTTLe more. Which is exactly why your fellow backpackers found it so enlightening and refreshing to try a life that ran counter to this current of the human heart.
Thanks D. We are greedy little buggers, always wanting more. I think we are hard wired for that. Peggy and I have chosen relatively simple lives, not having to live in the big house, choosing to buy a used vehicle, etc. We have plenty set aside to live comfortably on— we aren’t going to starve. So that isn’t an issue. We choose to put our resources into experiences rather than things. –Curt
Sounds wonderful. After all my travails I would now love a home half this size!! Housework’s impossible to keep up with, for one thing.
I thought so. But Curt disagrees. =)
I always believe that happiness is not found in money. Happiness is found in moments, people, and experiences. I think that security can be found in money (security of food, shelter, heat, water, etc) but that it is separate and removed from our happiness. I really like this post from you, Diana. You’ve given me food for thought.
I think security’s separable from happiness while it’s a part of it. Food for thought always the goal. =)
Appreciate the support, B.
What an insightful journey you took us on. “Her response was profoundly intriguing to me as I looked on while flailing for a financial foothold.” Telling isn’t it? I am still learning, that for me, the secret of happiness isn’t more or less, but gratitude. I have had things and choices and didn’t find happiness. I have been broke with severely limited choices or no choice, and didn’t find happiness either. Happiness is transient for me, until I celebrate every phase of my journey.
I look forward to reading more.
Love it, Timi. Thanks for the priceless reminder to celebrate every bit of it.
Diana, you introduce so many wonderful themes here so let me just pick up on one. Many times inherited wealth does have the same effect as it did on your friend but it doesn’t have to be that way. The magic word that can transform inherited wealth into something both productive and meaningful is ‘stewardship’. Teaching heirs that they are stewards of wealth, that they hold it in custody for future generations, can transform inheritors’ relationships with wealth, free them from guilt, and give them a new perspective on how the money should be used.
Really appreciate your seasoned perspective, Malcolm.
I love the reminder of “custody for future generations” and the relationship with money another reader brought up. I’m glad others can take of your wisdom. And kind of you to say wonderful, but it felt like I was running my fingers through gold strands piecing this together, each thread a post (if not a book) all its own.
Excellent writing here. Yes there are too many choices about too many things. And then there are choices about how we live our lives. Of course we can absolutely make the wrong choice in many things that we undertake. We just have to pray and ask God to help us choose the right direction. For sure, you are on the right track.
There you go, always encouraging. =)
“And then there are choices about how we live our lives.” Sighing a big yes, Yvonne. You all brought this to my consciousness this year and so I think on this just about everyday.
Prayed for you and your daughter today. =)
Thank you for the prayers. You are very much appreciated.
It used to drive my poor wife crazy that I wouldn’t try on the new jeans I was buying. After purchasing the same brand, style, and size for 25 years, I was reasonably sure what they were going to look like, but it certainly did drive her around the bend. Lol.
Ha ha ha ha. As the author of this post, I understand you inside and out and as a wife, I can see her side. =)
Then you are certainly one wise young lady. And if I could find my hat, I would even now be taking it off to you. : (
Because clinical depression is so prevalent doctors these days assume that if you’ve had a bad experience about something or other you are clinically depressed and they want to shove some disgusting pill with bad side effects onto you. They did that to me last year and the side effects were bad, so they tried another and the side effects were bad. So then they were searching around for another medication and I said “Enough of that!” Back in the good old days you refer to we had sad experiences and got over it. So I got into serious exercise, good diet and rest and it worked! I wonder how many others in the world are being fed medications that are worse for you than the ailment you could recover from over time if left alone? Now for the jeans. In today’s world there are just too many choices. It’s a marketing thing. Find someone who looks the same size, pay them $10 and have them go through the harassment in store until they find the right fit. Then pay the cashier and leave with your purchase unstressed. lol
Oh, dOn’t get me started on the medical system and Px, Ian. You’re preaching (ranting) to the choir. It’s a joke. I’m so pleased to hear you had the sense to stop the nonsense and abuse, and take ownership of your body to restore balance. Just wonderful. And that is quite a creative solution, to pay a close body type to dive into the madness for you. LOL Never woulda thought of that.
I think you hit the nail on the head….too many choices and unrealistic expectations equal overload equal depression.
Perhaps…it distills down to the fact that we are trying to be like God in expanding our sea of options. And we get in over ourself. It’s literally too much for us to handle.
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I really do think there is a lot to unpack here, Diana. and look forward to the stories that come. I can definitely see how your friend would feel guilty for her fortune-whatever the reasons. I was intrigued by your commentary on your jeans shopping too- and expectations. Sometimes I think the secret of happiness is having no expectations, but probably much harder than the sometimes difficult task of having low expectations.
Interesting that you distinguish between having no and low expectations. I said in the Lessons from my 30s that I’ve learned to give and just let people be without expectation. (Has made me quite happier.) But the million-dollar question arises in relationships bound by covenant or promise. How much are we to expect of our spouse or significant other? Of our parents? Unpack THAT and you land on a minefield of dysfunctional families and people traumatized in childhood.
I am visiting wordpress and your blog after ages…and such a gem of a post! Reminds me of the time when as a student, I and my friend used to get off the bus and get into a cake shop and buy our favourite chocolate cake and share it…coz we didn’t have enough pocket money..and we used to dream of the day we would have our own income..and on that day we would eat all the chocolate cakes in the shop!! 🙂
Today…I am far from rich…but can definitely afford as many cakes as I want…but…the cakes don’t taste so good! 🙂
This bit of your childhood warms me to the toes. I am about to email it to my best friend from 6th gr on, if that’s all right. I got that it was the sharing and dreaming together that made it taste so good – before I got to your ending. Thanks so much. So precious.
Interesting. I had a conversation with a mature student today whose son is a six figure CEO. He grew up not poor, but certainly not rich. We spoke of the burden of money, but also spoke of the danger of romanticizing poverty. I am happy to have found the sweet spot in the middle.
“Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.…”
Great thoughtful post, holistic. Interesting about your friend-orphan. That’s too young to inherit so much money.
Anyway, I liked your jeans search. You know, I spent over 3 years, 3 years trying to find a pair of jeans that meant my specifications. Talk about wasting time, trying on choices. So I did find pr. which are black and I wear 50% of the time in my full-time office job as an analyst.
Or the time I spent nearly 2 yrs. trying to find a pr. of cycling shoes that meant my needs.
I grew up in a poor family since my father was the full-time breadwinner, a cook in a Chinese restaurant…for 6 children and my mother. When I applied for a university grant, I knew my father’s income. Now, what 20-yr. old these days knows the general details of their parent(s)’ annual income?
Gee, I actually believe it took you that long to find the perfect jeans and shoes. Oh, what a pain. Augh!!!
Thx for the precious glimpse into your history. I’ve so appreciated, as well as enjoyed (while I feel almost disrespectful using this word in light of your parents’ hardships) learning of your rich heritage.
Great article! I think gratitude for what one has is so important – everyone seems to be wanting more and more these days and unfortunately this can lead to dissatisfaction. “There’s some magical amount. I don’t know what it is. I’m pretty confident that we have long since passed the point where options improve our welfare”. This is so true obviously it is going to be a struggle if you have no money for rent, food etc but so many people have gone way past this and are still feeling “empty” and wanting more. “Option anxiety” is a well known saying and seems to be rather an epidemic in modern western society. Lowering your expectations and appreciating the small joys in life eg a lovely sunny day, quality time with family and friends really does lead to happiness!
Thanks for reflecting back your agreement on this, Rose. Being happy with little is being grateful for every bit. So simple and yet obviously millions of people are missing it. It’s an interesting question to dig into. WHY our appetites are what they are.
Thanks for the read.
Thanks Diana yes I don’t know why but so many people are missing it, “being happy with little is being grateful for every bit”! Have enjoyed reading 🙂 Have a lovely weekend Rosemary 🙂
If I was your friend, I would go get malaria on some adventure in the Congo. Pain is restorative, deprivation brings perspective, struggle makes success sweet and nobody would rather hear a story about that one time you were contented with your furniture than that one time you fought off a goliath tigerfish with your handmade spear.
Will let you know if I ever quote you, O articulate Sagegarrido.
People suffering depression aren’t driven by inspiration and no one can look upon anyone’s rose bed and say the gardener enjoys peaches and cream everyday. She happened to have suffered more unspeakably than you know, and no one saw it coming when her father beat her mother to the grave. Both had cancer – yes, at the same time. But yes, Ben, I appreciate where you’re coming from. Thanks, buddy.
Well I certainly enjoyed this in-depth post. There is much to write about on the topic of money. I agree with all you wrote. With the vast amount of choices available in everything we should be able to find the best or perfection we seek, but life in the fast lane and lack of fine tuning has been omitted from many a product and service today. Don’t even get me started on appliances and Tv’s that used to last well over a decade. Things aren’t made to last, they are made to break and repurchase, over and over. Also, if we don’t expect, we won’t be disappointed. Sadly, I enjoy expectations. 🙂
What happened to the long shelf life on these products, right?! And you speak for many of us…on great expectations.
Long shelf life = lost art. 😦
Wow, this is good, really good. I too grew up poor and remember the pure magic of something so little as a brand new winter coat given to me by my grandma one year. How I cherished that red coat with the fur hood. My children have multiple coats, with many of them branding the ever popular North Face. Will they find the thrill in the little the way I did?? What a heavy thing to think about.
Wonderful example and picture, Sasha, the red coast with the fur, and great question. Sounds like a post to me.
My wheels are spinning. 🙂
Great post…the saying money can’t buy happiness, so true. It can disappear as easily as it came. As for finding a pair of jeans that fit like a dream I am still looking.
Ha ha ha Good luck with those d— jeans. =) Thx for the read.
After much thought, I found that “low expectations” is too simple for the “secret” to happiness. It also takes acceptance. Any depressed person can lower expectations. Everything personally overwhelming needs to be processed. We are all different people with different needs. Loss of happiness comes easiest with the loss of that (and maybe any) perspective.
AJ, I agree. I’ve actually given a lot of thought to acceptance – way before I started blogging 20 months ago. I appreciate your articulate input and how it came about from your grapplings. The lower the expectations, though, the easier the acceptance. Thank you for the follow. Welcome to A Holistic Journey!
Have loved reading some of your posts but this one has made me realise I am not alone in the shopping dilemma. It’s amusing and deep your attempt to get a new pair of jeans. I will be out on a search soon as my one pair are in need of repair. Having visited an older family friend yesterday she and her mother had the ability to repair. I am stuck in the middle with no skills with a needle and a phobia about going to the shops where there seems to everything but never something simple or what I need. Have got out of the wanting! Feeling overwhelmed can make one feel low so good points on depression. I love my more simple life in Southern Spain. Plenty of physical work, more sun and daylight hours and natural foods.
“I love my more simple life in Southern Spain. Plenty of physical work, more sun and daylight hours and natural foods.” Sounds divine.
The jean drama was put forth by the writer and speaker I was quoting. But I did add a “ditto” at the end. Thank you for the follow. =) Welcome to A Holistic Journey.
Let me know if you find a good pair, by the way! =)
This was a great post and I really enjoyed it. I experience the paralysis from having to many options when it comes to technology. All I want is a phone! I need it to call that’s it! My brain just shuts down from the overload and the fear of buying the wrong thing is real.
What? No camera? GPS? Disco lights? =)
They don’t even make them without the disco lights anymore.
So here’s what I love: Even when I’ve read your most current blogs, I always find an older one that is “new” to me. This one resonates. I have always craved financial security. I feel all else is within my purview to handle. Odd, right? I think it relates to the security of having a home no one can take. And yet, no one has ever “taken” any of my homes. Maybe it’s karma:). Brilliant post, as usual.
Interesting bc I would not have guessed, the way you braved the gamble with the divorce. Seriously, hats off to you, friend. But it’s a reasonable fetish, as money is a launching pad for options.
I’m glad you wouldn’t have guessed! Means I’m winning and the fear is not:).
Bust out the bubbly (every chance we get). 😉
What a thoughtful post Diana and I really think you hit the nail on the head in regards to the paralysis of having too many choices. As someone with more experience in on line dating than I care to admit, I can tell you this is absolutely true. Not that I could have whoever I pleased, but just knowing there were so many “clickable options” out there made the actual in person meetup inevitably disappointing.
I hate Walmart too, I don’t care how cheap the prices are.
Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. It’s a wonder, though, that I know a good many people who got married through the online dating!
I know I do too, maybe it’s just me! 😉
Well, be encouraged. Everything in its time.
Thought provoking. And of course vey well articulated. I think we are being fooled by the mirage of money. It looks like having a choice of washing machines to buy from is a good thing. It looks like buying a new washing machine every three years and chucking out the old one is a good thing. Many of us have more than our parents did. But it cannot buy as much, especially the things that matter…companionship, compassion, understanding, etc.
I love that, Ankur, how precious gifts such as companionship (well, though some people try to buy this!) and understanding that are worth their weight in gold come by other means. Thank you.
Modern day life can become overwhelming at times for a lot of us. Wonderful post.
A great summary, M. Thank you. (Try to) Enjoy this month!
If I may say so, one will never be happy until they become fully happy with themselves. Despite differences no matter how awkward or silly they may seem to everyone around you, until you get to the point where you can fully be yourself and be confident and happy being you, one is merely getting by each day.
Be happy being you. And keep learning.
Thank you for the reminder. =)
Immensely interesting post and article.
Thank you for taking a moment.
Nice and interesting post.
Thank you for the support.
I agree that low expectations are less likely to stifle happiness. Want less and give more. Care more and be of service to others. Praise God. Your thoughts are beautifully expressed.
I think there’s also probably something there neurologically, that too many options are just plain dizzying and can overwhelm, even subtly. I appreciate the support today, Nancy.