Thursday, two weeks ago I moved in with a lovely couple named Barry and Linda. I was living in a tent for the past month because of financial problems. They came to the rescue by offering me their spare room for free, including meals. I couldn’t have been luckier and after a harsh period of financial insecurity, I am slowly climbing out of the pit I dug for myself this winter.
Having financial problems, I sometimes focus too much on things I don’t have.
Sometimes I forget about how lucky I am and how much I have. When I’ve obtained something like a new phone, I am excited about it for a couple of days but then my focus shifts to another better phone.
This is good though because we’re not supposed to feel too comfortable with what we have. Life is an ongoing process of learning new skills and this where material possessions can help.
For example: I resisted smartphones for a long time because I couldn’t make myself pay an extra $100 for a device people use to annoy other people.
Until I moved into a valley that was so far away from civilization. Then I got a smartphone because it was the only way to still have that connection to the net. It meant that I had to hang out in the kitchen window (and if you were wondering, hanging out in the window meant climbing into the sink, while sitting on a window sill 1,5 meters above the floor).
Naturally, I got hooked once I figured out that the amount of music and workout apps on your phone are infinite as long as you have data and memory. Never went back since then.
I have a smartphone now and I used it this morning to Facetime my dear friend Caitlin in Belgium. That made me very happy, since I hadn’t talked to her in more than a year. Yes people, material things can equal a happier life.
On the other hand sometimes when I am going through hard times I can get very frustrated and angry because I want stuff that I can’t afford. Sometimes they are things I need, most of the time it’s stuff I don’t need.
Then it’s easy for me to point at rich people and be very jealous because their lives seem so easy to me. With all of that money, they could do anything they wanted. But pointing the finger at somebody is too easy and anger doesn’t help me get into a happy mind state so I can get out of my financial pit.
Off course the division between rich and poor is harsh and wealthy people should help the less fortunate. But this is not what this post is about.
It’s about finding your happiness in what you already have instead of looking at what you don’t have.
Since about a year ago, I have started keeping a thankfulness journal where everyday I write down five things I am grateful for to have in my life. This can go from having electricity to earning enough money to buy that polarizing filter for my camera.
Being rich is relative and me and you are richer than we want to think we are. The money I spend for my snowboard gear alone would feed a whole family for months in certain areas of the world.
So as an exercise I wanted to find out how rich I actually am. You should try it as well, it’s very heartwarming. Just take random things you have in your life and try to find the market value for it.
Gourmet Grilled Cheese: $15
Living in an Art Gallery: $15
There are some seriously rustic paintings in our home. For sure this painting is not the Mona Lisa, but give it another 500 years and I am sure it will be as famous.
Countryside Retreat: $93
Price based on a similar roomtype with Airbnb.
Botanical Garden Entry Fee: $10
In New Zealand entry to a botanical garden is usually free, in Canada and Belgium it is not though. So I based the fee on the price for a ticket for the Montreal botanical garden.
Free Range Eggs: $5
Happy chickens mean happy eggs mean happy bellies.
Entry Fee to a Toy Museum: $18
Based on the National Transport & Toy Museum entry fee in Wanaka, New Zealand.
Pet Love: $1
Midget is my Host’s dog, I don’t feed her. I just reap the benefits. My assumption was that a dog this size would eat about a dollar worth of food every day.
The sum of all of these unspent expenses is $157 per day. That’s $4710 per month I save by just living here with my hosts Barry and Linda in Dovedale, New Zealand. Multiply that by twelve and that’s another $56 520 I could add to my annual income. I don’t even make that much money with my full time job at the moment.
I am rich and so are you. Appreciate and remember it every day. It’s important.
Special thanks to Truc Nguyen who supplied me the featured image for this post. She is definitely a more motivated photographer than I am.