I came across five simple steps to be happy and appreciated the simplicity of them. Often times, greed and corruption overcome people’s desire to do good when they are on a quest toward financial freedom. If your moral and/or ethical compass is overlooked or compromised on your journey to earn more and save more, you risk the loss of balance in other areas of your life, such as happiness and fulfilment.
So, the following are my thoughts on how to combine your quest for financial fitness with your quest for happiness using these 5 simple steps.
Step 1. Free your heart from hatred.
There are often negative and petty emotions which cloud our day, contribute to our stress, and keep us from feeling happy. Letting go of some of the anger you feel towards your boss, your co-worker, your spouse, or your ‘enemies’ leads to you being able to be happier. Sometimes it seems impossible, but I have noticed that if I allow myself to achieve this, I am able to be more productive with my life. How to apply this to personal finance? From personal experience, I have felt a lot of anger/hatred at the state of the economy, political climate, and the greed of our society. It is an age-old tale of humanity that often the greedy take more than their share and the division of classes becomes more and more evident. I have to constantly remind myself that the anger that I feel does nothing to change my financial situation in life, and I am the only person that has the power to change.
Step 2. Free your mind from fear and worries.
Worry and fear are the often the top 2 things that stop most people from taking risks. Taking risk is the surest way to earning more passive income. You can control that risk by having a sound financial education and taking financial moves that are in your best interest. But you will always have risk. The fear of the unknown and the future is also a reason that people worry. These days, the financial guide Suze Orman says that you should save 8 months worth of expenses in your ‘emergency’ or what I prefer to call contingency fund and only pay minimums on your credit card if that will help you reach your contingency fund goal. The fear of the unknown, of security and monthly income to pay the bills is one reason that so many people stay with their jobs instead of doing something on their own that may be riskier. We as a society have been taught to be responsible and believe that safety and security are more important than almost anything else.
Though I believe its important to have a contingency fund, I think its more important to play an active role in daily financial education, awareness of your budget and your spending, and taking action to improve your financial situation. Don’t spend all of your time focusing on paying off debt, because then you are spending your energy on debt rather than on increased wealth.
I cannot say that I am free of fear and worry. Far from. However, what I am able to do right now is take action, start learning, and push through my fear toward doing something in the right direction. As long as your fear and worry aren’t crippling you from action, you are still on the right path. The less fear and worry that you let into your mind, the wealthier your mind will be, and you will be able to take more action to succeed in your financial endeavors.
Step 3. Live simply.
This one is the key that so many Americans have missed for so long, but are just now starting to value. Frugality and thriftiness are in these days as opposed to the recent days of excessive spending, huge homes and lots of vacations. The more recurring debts that you add to your life, the more your bills seem to control you. I am making many conscious efforts to simplify our lifestyle, determine what is truly important to us, organize, reduce clutter, and not buy new things that we do not need. For me, having only what I need, having things in their place and being able to spend my time on the important things in life like family, education, etc, are all made more possible by reducing some of life’s distractions. Technology has the power to make things more complicated and provide us with over-stimulation, but when used carefully can also help you organize and simplify your life.
Step 4. Give more.
Given the fact that my family struggles to get by month to month right now, its difficult to donate a lot of money. However, sometimes I think monetary donations are not always as valuable as giving other things, your time, your wisdom, your teachings, etc. If you put thought into what you are giving, it can often have a larger impact than simply writing a check. Giving someone a smile and brightening their day is giving. Volunteering is an amazing form of giving. In the online personal finance world, I love all the cool sites like FiLife which allow people to answer financial questions that you might normally have to pay a financial advisor to get an answer to. That’s a pretty cool forum for giving. Some of the most successful people acknowledge that giving is a win-win because it helps someone and makes you feel better as well.
Step 5. Expect less.
This step could almost go hand in hand with living simply. Expectations are the stories that we tell ourselves and hold others or ourselves accountable for. Often they are not based on a true reality other than our own. For so long in my life I had an expectation of what my life SHOULD look like, and I made decisions according to the shoulds. I have now realized that there are many options, and the less that I require out of the specifics of my life, the more I am able to see the opportunities and possibilities that are right in front of me, and the closer I can get to being happy in the present.