September 23, 2012

In Search of Contentment - Part 2

2.  Quit tying contentment to money.

This post is the hardest regarding contentment as let’s put this up front right away, money can make our lives easier and thus we are more content.  For some people they are living in poverty through no fault of their own.  It’s one thing to want more money because your basic needs aren’t being met.  But, it seems to me that most of us are constantly chasing after money for the wrong reasons.  We are setting aside contentment for the day we earn “x” amount of dollars as income for our families or we are waiting to be happy until we are debt free.

It’s not about earning more money, it’s about the money you have and what you do with it.  Perhaps it’s not your income, it’s your debt.  Perhaps it’s not your income but your unrealistic expectations of what you believe you need to have in order to be happy and content.

I speak from experience here.  Years and years ago money was so tight that we could hardly pay our bills.  It was worse than paycheck to paycheck.  The bills weren’t just for utilities and food, the bills were also credit card payments of stuff that we really didn’t need or poor planning on our part for not setting aside money for car repairs and such.  We were young and stupid. 

I would have given anything not to have those debt payments each month as the money spent on credit card payments would have given us plenty of extra money in our budget.  So, in that essence if we wouldn’t have made those poor decisions and been content with what we had as income, we wouldn’t have gone out and bought stuff on credit.  However, I want to go one step further and say that I was miserable because of our debt and I remained miserable.  Yes, we were in debt, but if I only would have stepped back from the situation, recognized what we had done, sat down and made a debt reduction plan, I would have felt better about the situation.  Even in the middle of more expenses than income, I could have found contentment from the peace of mind of having a debt reduction plan and working the plan. 

For many people getting out of debt can take years.  If you wait until everything is paid off and perfect you will have wasted several years of your life being stuck in the mindset of being discontent.   Draw strength from your debt reduction plan and be content in the knowledge that you are taking action.

I know people that seem to be holding their breath until they make a certain amount of income.  They are unhappy until they make “x” amount of money and then they will allow themselves to be content.

Don’t fall into this mindset.  I know we have come through some really hard times over the past few years and many of my followers have experienced unemployment.  But never fall into the mindset that you will only be happy when you earn a set amount of money.  Learn to live on the income you earn now and make changes so you can continue to live on what you earn.   

In 2007 I started to wear down from working the long hours that I had been working.  We had a lot of debt coming from paying college tuition for our oldest son and from his wedding in the summer of 2007.  We buckled down to get the debt paid off.  I applied myself to my job and did the very best that I could and we concentrated on paying off our debt.  In the fall of 2008, actually 4 years ago right now, I started to totally burn out and I began thinking about quitting my job and staying home full time.  My happiness was not tied to earning more money, but gaining more time and peace in my life. 

Some of the happiest and contented people I know are those who are living within their incomes.  They are thankful for what they have and do not think that the way they are living is beneath their means or undignified. 

I am still learning this concept of not tying money to contentedness.  Old habits, or should I say thoughts, are hard to shake.  However as time passes, I find that I find contentment and money not as closely related as I used to.  

Next Post:  3.  Quit tying contentment to what people think of you.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Nice post. I think a lot of us need to try to find contentment in things other than money.

I read an article the other day that said suicides have increased since the economy tanked and it really bothered me. It made me step back and take a look at my own life and reevaluate what is important. It is nice not to have to worry about money, but it doesn't buy contentment.