Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The basics of happiness...

I couldn't sleep last night. You know when you just can't settle down enough for sleep to come? My mind was buzzing with things to remember. My last coffee of the day was around 7:30, so maybe caffeine was still in my system. As I usually do when I can't sleep, I watched TV. I flipped between different shows and can't think of anything that really caught my attention.

Much earlier in the evening, I watched a taped episode of Oprah featuring a financial expert giving advice on how to survive the recession. People who invested and saved properly talked about how they found themselves on the brink of poverty. I found their stories so sad. Life can change in a second and so can any one's financial security. A retired reverend admitted that his faltering finances were causing him to lose faith. The financial advisor reminded the reverend that faith and security comes from feeling grounded and loved, not from money or things. I keep repeating a phrase the advisor emphasised that said," We must stop looking at what we had and focus on what is around us now." It's advice that can be applied to many aspects of life outside of money. I am guilty of dwelling on broken relationships from way back. Too often we get stuck on the past, which doesn't get us far. Financial matters are pretty black and white, so I can see how all the people struggling because of the economy could find themselves obsessing over what they lost.

A few reccent Oprah episodes have repeated the idea that perhaps the recession is meant to show us how little we actually need to be happy. Searching for meaning in tough times is healing. Maybe the recession is here to show us that the secret to happiness is simplicity, but deep down, don't we already know that? Think of how strangers walk slower and are more likely to smile on the streets when there is sunshine. Think of how amazing a hot bath on a cold winter day feels. When we're thirsty, there's nothing better than gulping down a cool, fresh, clear glass of water. Who doesn't love hearing a great song and dancing? Sometimes a hearty piece of warm, fresh bread with a little butter tastes delicious. All of these things are basic and cost next to nothing and they bring pleasure. Sometimes less is more. The size of our bank account has little to do with how much we enjoy each day - at least I think so.


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