Happy Saturday once again, my friends. It’s slated to be a beautiful, sunny day here in mid-Minnesota. On the menu for today: lots of outside work, balanced with some outside play. The garden needs to be tended, we’ve got some painting and staining to do to finish restoring some woodwork, and there is fruit from the black raspberry bushes that is begging to be canned.
Last weekend we attended a family reunion that was oh-so-fun as we caught up with our super-large extended family on all of their goings-on. The 90+ temp day was made surprisingly bearable by the soft breeze that came in from off the lake and the covered picnic shelter that dad rents each year for this event.
As we gear up for our Saturday work/play day, I can’t help but reflect on how joyful the simple life really is. The simple life is different for everyone. Mr. Money Mustache loves his simple life among his closely-knit (both relationship-wise and space-wise) neighbors. We love our simple life where everyone’s house is far away from another, yet we bond closely with our far-away neighbors and with family and friends that visit the farm for afternoon gatherings.
The point of the simple life – whatever your definition of the simple life is – is that your simple life should define the life that brings you joy in personal responsibility. If you go through life dreading each day because you hate your job, you hate your debt load or whatever, I urge you to reconsider what will make you truly happy. This is a loaded question. People often leave marriages, move states or switch jobs because they’re not “happy”. But often times we think we need a change on the outside when what we really need is a change on the inside. Happiness involves finding out who you are and who you are meant to be in a way that takes into consideration not just yourself but those around you as well. Happiness does not mean selfishness. Yes, you can be unhappy because you’re not doing enough for yourself, however; going the other way and considering only yourself as you search for happiness will make you just as unhappy as you were before. Happiness – true happiness – involves searching deep inside yourself for the way in which you were meant to share care with others. It’s about finding out that relationships and how you can lift others up brings much more happiness than “stuff” or even experiences ever will. In this way, the simple life – one without an abundance of material possession – fills many voids.
Our friend Mr. Money Mustache may live in a half million dollar house, but the rest of his life is filled with activities that cost very little. Not because he has to live that way, but because materialism just doesn’t matter to him. Can you live in a half million dollar house and say “materialism doesn’t matter”? Of course you can. Materialism isn’t about ‘stuff” so much as it is about an attitude that the accumulate of stuff will bring you happiness or make you successful.
I have this gut-level feeling – and have for years – that our country is headed for an economic meltdown that will make the Great Depression look like a walk in the park. As such, I study the people of the Great Depression often. Since the average person had no credit card, you lived on the cash that you had, period. No cash, no groceries. No cash, no electricity. No cash, no heat. As such, the people of the Great Depression learned to be extremely inventive when it came to survival. They grew their own food, raised chickens so they could sell eggs for money and have eggs to eat, etc. As I’ve mentioned before, my friend’s grandparents, when they found themselves without work and money during the Depression, moved to a chicken coop and caught bullfrogs for dinner. Some call that disgusting. I call it “creative”. They didn’t give up. They did what they could with the resources they had.
When I think about these types of stories, it makes me more and more motivated to teach the kids to learn to live a more simple life. A life without dining out, without buying things we don’t need. It makes me wonder what we could really accomplish in terms of debt payoff if we truly, truly sacrificed all wants and truly, truly only bought needs. It seems like a tremendous sacrifice for us, but for 90% of the people during the Great Depression, it was simply life.
Along those lines, here are the great reads I found online this week. Enjoy.
Joshua at Becoming Minimalist wrote “Understanding the Diderot Effect” this week. I hadn’t heard of Diderot before I read this article, but I recognized him at first glance in my own life and the lives of those around me. Do you know him?
Derek at Life and My Finances wrote a great post entitled “It’s Not All About Stuff, You Know”. The article chronicles his journey in simple living as he worked like a mad dog at dumping his debt. Awesome story.
Grayson at Debt Roundup wrote about how he brown bagged his way to debt freedom. This post inspired me because again, it’s a mindset issue. In the olden days, everyone brown-bagged it to lunch. Now, somehow we’ve gotten this idea that lunch at a restaurant is a necessity.
Leo over at Zen Habits wrote an awesome article called The Simple Health Plan. This simple living gem will save you a ton of money and will also vastly improve your life.
Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme wrote a thought-provoking article this week entitled Is Your Stuff Holding You Back? Well, is it? At the very least, how is your stuff complicating your life and taking up too much of your time?
Th-th-that’s all, folks, for this weekend. Enjoy!