Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.
I just got back from a long cruise during which time I saw my life savings flash in front of my eyes. I don’t know the extent of the shrinkage of my IRA but I did get a statement for last month where I had already had a reduction of about 10% of what I had 30 days earlier and that was before the big hits. I am at the point where I feel that moving money around just means that I am falling into the buy high and sell low trap so I have decided with help of trusted advisors to hang in there and remember that I have had years of great returns.
It will do me no good to spend my time worrying and agonizing about the reality of today’s crisis rather I will just tighten up my belt, live more simply and defer purchases and live within my means. Even with a reduced lifestyle I still will be better off than most. Since I plan on living for many more years I will benefit from the eventual recovery. Life is too precious to spend too much of it feeling sorry for myself.
Hopefully the result for all of us will be a simpler life with all learning to live with less dependence on debt. Who knows we might even find more time to spend with each other and that will enrich us all.
As you know I have become a fan of Gretchen Rubin and as always she has some sage advice for us. Here is how she is handling today’s challenges.
Don’t follow the stock market too closely.
This has been a crazy week in the financial world. What’s happening in the economy has consequences for everyone – for some people, very directly and immediately, for others, over the long term. But no matter what it means to you, it’s unnerving to see those stock market numbers crash down through new barriers, even if they climb back up.
On Monday, I kept checking the Dow number throughout the day. I realized that this activity wasn’t useful, and it certainly wasn’t happiness-inducing, but I couldn’t resist. For the rest of the week, though, I managed to restrain myself, and I didn’t check the numbers until the end of the day.
I drew a lesson from the contrast: don’t keep checking the numbers. I’d been stoking my anxiety for no good reason. After all, I’m not going to respond to the information in any immediate way, and if my goal is to be a well-informed citizen, I can do that just as well by checking at the day’s end to see what happened.
Similarly, I’m avoiding reading or listening to the wild doomsday predictors. No one knows what will happen. There’s value to reading a thoughtful analysis of the economic situation, but I don’t need to spend my time listening to not-particularly-well-informed people speculate on various catastrophe scenarios.
The happiness challenge posed by the economic situation is severe, so it’s a good idea not to add to the problem by constant, purposeless monitoring.
If you get a chance visit Gretchen at http://www.gretchenrubin.com/ I think you’ll be glad you did.
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
A woman goes into a meat market and asks the butcher why his pork chops are 2.99 cents a pound when the guy across the street is selling his for 89 cents? The butcher says well then, why don’t you go over there and buy his? The lady customer says, well he don’t have any. The butcher says, well that’s nothing, when I don’t have ANY I sell mine for 79 cents
A Smile is the easiest way to improve your looks.
A young Jewish man falls in love with a Native American woman and they decide to get married. When his mother hears the news, however, she is extremely distressed because she wanted him, of course, to marry a nice Jewish girl.
When she hears that not only is he marrying this Native American girl but has decided to live with her on the reservation, the mother becomes so upset that she refuses to even speak to the boy, practically disowning him.
After a year, the son telephones the mother to tell her that he and his wife are expecting a child. The mother is happy for him, but there is still quite a bit of tension in the air.
Nine months later, the son calls the mother again. "Mom," he says, "I just wanted you to know that last night my wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I also wanted to tell you that we’ve talked it over and we have decided to give the boy a Jewish name."
Upon hearing this, the mother is overjoyed. "Oh, son, this is wonderful," she gushes. "I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life. You have made me the happiest woman in the world."
"That’s great, Mom," replies the son.
"And what," asks the mother, "is the baby’s name?"
The son proudly replies, "Smoked Whitefish!"
Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.
An old man stops by a cafe for breakfast. After paying the tab, he checks his pockets and leaves three pennies for a tip.
As he strides toward the door, his waitress muses, only half to herself, "You know, you can tell a lot about a man by the tip he leaves."
The old man turns around, curiosity getting the better of him. "Oh, really? Tell me, what does my tip say?"
"Well, this penny tells me you’re a thrifty man."
Barely able to conceal his pride, the man utters, "Hmm, true enough."
"And this penny, it tells me you’re a bachelor."
Surprised at her perception, he says, "Well, that’s true, too."
"And the third penny tells me that your father was also a bachelor."
"Ask me about my vow of silence."
A rabbi took a job at a Duracell factory. His job is to stand on the production line and as the batteries go by, say, "I wish you long life".
May your troubles be less, your blessings more and may nothing but happiness come through your door.
She said: I feel inadequate when talking with a mechanic, so when my vehicle started making a strange noise, I sought help from a friend. He drove the car around the block, listened carefully, then told me how to explain the difficulty when I took it in for repair. At the shop I proudly recited, "The timing is off, and there are premature detonations, which may damage the valves."
As I smugly glanced over the mechanic’s shoulder, I saw him write on his clipboard, "Lady says it makes a funny noise."
Let others lead small lives, but not you.
Let others argue over small things, but not you.
Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.
Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Management is not responsible for duplicates from previous dailies.
The editor is somewhat senile.