Today has been one of those perfect days.
Do you ever get those? Days when everything just falls into place, and life just seems to be on your side?
I woke up naturally, even before my alarm went off, and felt fully rested. I looked out the window and it was a sunny radiant day. “Great start,” I thought.
I then ate my breakfast – a chocolate protein milkshake with bananas and frozen berries – and hit the weights room. Pretty good session – got stronger in all my lifts. Sweet 🙂
When I got back to work at my makeshift work desk – also my dining table – I had to take a picture of my view. Check it out:
It’s funny because I always have this view, but don’t notice it as much as I did today. Back when I worked a 9-5 job which only had one small window in the entire office, I would’ve given anything for this view.
I guess that says a lot about how we, as humans, tend to think. We get used very quickly to everything, which can be a good and a bad thing depending on how you look at it.
Also, nothing is permanent – least of all happiness – which is what I want to talk about today.
If you’re a new reader, you should know that the main reason I created this website is to accelerate my financial independence while doing something that I believe will be able to help a lot of people – certainly more people that I did in any of my old 9-5 jobs.
By becoming financially independent I hope to be able to focus on my happiness and be able to decide how I spend my days.
Here’s what I’ve learned about happiness: It’s fleeting and doesn’t last forever, but you can certainly help to make it your default state.
How do you even start to focus on happiness? I have a little technique and, since I like you, I’ll share it with you 😉
How to Design Your Life to Focus on Happiness
The first step is to know yourself. What makes you happy?
Is it lying in bed and listening to a good album on your iPod? Is it taking long walks alone and soaking in the nature around you? How about a tasty dinner with your closest friends?
Whatever these things are, it’s logical that the more you do them, the more likely it is that you’ll be happy.
One of the things that I love the most is sitting on the sofa and playing a good story-driven videogame.
The thing is that I didn’t know how important this was to my happiness until I stopped doing it for a few months. I didn’t want to spend so much time doing something that most people associate with teenagers or adults with poor social skills, so I totally succumbed to the pressure…
After a while, I felt that something was missing from my life – something important. It took me a while to realise it was the lack of videogame playing.
I then stopped caring about what people thought – and what I thought people would think about me – and embraced this thing that just made me happy! I haven’t looked back ever since.
Whether what you love is conventional or not, you need to embrace it.
Just do it and your life will be so much better for it. Pinky promise 🙂
Don’t Underestimate The Sun
If you live in a warm and sunny country you’ll probably take the sun for granted. If you live in a colder and darker one, it’s all you’ll think about!
When I lived in England I really missed the sun. Bad days just seem so much worse when it’s raining, and there are reasons for that.
Seeing the sun and letting its light touch your skin has some incredible effects on the body and the mind – as long as it’s in moderation!
Studies have shown that sunlight helps the body to release mood-boosting hormone serotonin. It also helps to fight the winter blues, (also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder) helps your bones to get stronger, and lets you sleep better at night.
Those are some of the reasons why you’re happier when it’s sunny. It’s also one of the main reasons why I moved back to Spain.
It may be the fact that I now run my own business and have unleashed my inner entrepreneur, but I’m sure that the sun has helped in making me the happiest I’ve been in years!
Happiness and Money – They’re Linked
Can money buy happiness?
It’s an age-old question, and the answer is both yes and no.
Sure, you’re not going to be a very happy person if you can’t even afford a roof over your head or the most basic food – at that point, it’s about survival and happiness is secondary.
However, once you’re financially stable, how much happier would an increased income make you?
The Wall Street Journal asked its readers how they used their money to make them happier, and it was clear that what mattered more than how much they made was how they spent it.
I could not agree more. How we spend our money is what’ll have one of the biggest impacts on our happiness.
I’ve written before about how saving money every month and having savings is going to increase your peace of mind more than anything. Peace of mind is almost a luxury these days, as it’s like a sturdy stone wall against the uncertainties in life.
The Happiness Factor of Things
There is a way to build and then grow your savings while making sure that you’re as happy as you can be during the process.
I call this the Happiness Factor.
I learned this from one of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject of money, called Your Money or Your Life.
All you have to do is have a look at your past expenses. If you’re not tracking your money yet, take a look at this article I wrote, showing that Personal Capital is an amazing tool to track expenses.
When you have your expenses in front of you this is what you should do:
- Go through them and divide them into essentials and not-so-essentials.
- Note if you could reduce this expense further, and whether it would really affect your happiness and quality of life.
- You’ll soon figure out which expenses are the most important to you. You can then give them their own happiness factor – something like 0=not effect on happiness, 1=makes you slightly happier and 2=it makes you very happy.
Here’s an example of when I did this:
|Rent||Yes||2||I could live somewhere cheaper, but the neighbourhood and scenery I get make me very happy.|
|Mobile Phone Contract||No||1||I need a mobile phone, but I can definitely reduce the price of the contract by downgrading.|
|Dinner With Friends||Yes||2||We could go to cheaper places or have dinner parties instead, but meeting friends is a must for happiness.|
|Armani Watch||No||0||This was cool for a week, then I regretted it -
it actually works worse than my trusty Casio watch, and has no effect on my happiness.
As you can see, I value where I live quite highly – I’ve lived in rougher areas during my life, and it wasn’t worth the money I saved. I currently pay more than I probably should, but its happiness factor is very high for me.
On the other hand, I’ve included a purchase which was expensive yet didn’t affect my happiness too much. I bought an Armani watch which cost around $200 because I thought I was meant to wear a nice watch…
I loved it initially and it made me happier for a few days, but I then just got used to it and the effect on my happiness vanished. It also broke after a few weeks, so I went back to wearing my $20 Casio watch.
I’m pretty sure these things would survive a nuclear holocaust – along with all the cockroaches!
Don’t Worry. Be Happy.
When you start to scrutinise every purchase you make based on its happiness factor, it’s a lot easier to forget about unnecessary things and reach your financial goals.
There are lots of little things that we often buy without a second thought because they’re only 20 or 30 bucks. Those things only make us happy for about 10 minutes and they can add up to make a serious piece of our expenses.
There are also expenses that we consider essential, which can often be reduced or eliminated entirely.
I encourage you to attempt going through your expenses and making the link between what you’re spending and what really makes you happy using the happiness factor technique.
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PS. As I finished writing this article in a local cafe, I found that my car had been towed away because I was parked a little over the line… Is this the universe’s way of self-correcting for my amazing day? I’ll let you decide. 😛