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Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:42 PM

Being happy with what you have and where you are is okay, too.

When I was a teenager, my friends talked about what they wanted to do / be. Things like being an engineer, a dental hygienist, a teacher, an electrician, or a computer programmer. Sure there were a few who aimed quite high- doctor and lawyer and such.

But you know what I've found? Twenty years on, a majority of those who had realistic expectations are happier than those who aimed ridiculously high. Sure, a fraction of the fraction who "aimed for the stars" even achieved their goals. Most didn't.

When I talk to those who achieved their high goals, I hear a lot of complaining- mostly about how much work it is to maintain. Crazy work hours, tons of student debt, broken marriages (or no social life at all)- all seem to be common.

It seems like we've embraced a culture of "everybody is special" to the absurd extreme that fewer people are happy being ordinary. And by "ordinary" I don't mean not successful; I mean not an entrepreneur, not a director of something-or-other, not a senior partner.

Now couple that with the concomitant rise of the "stuff means success" mentality and you've got an alchemical admixture sure to cause grief. Houses you don't need and can't afford, astounding credit card debt that will never get paid off, new car(s) every three years, or a new kitchen / bath / media room / home theater- it's a never ending source of post-consumer waste, untenable debt, worry, and unhappiness.

The political result of those attitudes, though, is even worse. Look at how the right is focused on gaining and protecting personal wealth. Cut taxes, remove regulation on business, break unions which increases corporate profit and therefore dividends, and open the floodgates to H1B visa holders.

My self-worth is not wrapped up in how much stuff I have, my title at work, or how much I've given to my favorite causes. My happiness doesn't depend on bragging rights. If I have the time and ability to do the things I enjoy and value, and appreciate the people I find myself surrounded by (either physically or virtually), I'm happy.

And, really, here's the point- that's okay. Why let others decide for you if you should be happy or not. If you enjoy the fact that your job as loan officer at a local bank branch gives you the time to see all your kid's soccer games, more power to you. The world needs loan officers, too. If you're able to have activities that you can immerse yourself in, and enjoy the people around you, who cares what anyone else is doing with their time and money.

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Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply Being happy with what you have and where you are is okay, too. (Original post)
X_Digger Feb 2013 OP
robinlynne Feb 2013 #1
brer cat Feb 2013 #2
Puzzledtraveller Feb 2013 #3
pengillian101 Feb 2013 #4
Sekhmets Daughter Feb 2013 #5
RKP5637 Feb 2013 #6
X_Digger Feb 2013 #11
Skittles Feb 2013 #13
llmart Feb 2013 #16
X_Digger Feb 2013 #17
Lurker Deluxe Feb 2013 #19
X_Digger Feb 2013 #20
spooky3 Feb 2013 #21
llmart Feb 2013 #24
Lurker Deluxe Feb 2013 #26
Skittles Feb 2013 #33
Blue_Tires Feb 2013 #22
babylonsister Feb 2013 #7
freshwest Feb 2013 #8
Squinch Feb 2013 #9
Marie Marie Feb 2013 #10
Spitfire of ATJ Feb 2013 #12
OneGrassRoot Feb 2013 #14
samplegirl Feb 2013 #15
devilgrrl Feb 2013 #18
TBF Feb 2013 #23
X_Digger Feb 2013 #28
Avalux Feb 2013 #25
The2ndWheel Feb 2013 #27
X_Digger Feb 2013 #29
deutsey Feb 2013 #30
RC Feb 2013 #31
get the red out Feb 2013 #32
Bluenorthwest Feb 2013 #34
Liberal_in_LA Feb 2013 #35

Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:51 PM

1. k&r

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:51 PM

2. Most excellent post. Thank you for taking the time to share. nt

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:52 PM

3. Great post!

Little musical gift to illustrate

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:52 PM

4. K&R n/t

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:55 PM

5. Well said X_Digger, very well said.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:55 PM

6. To me, your most powerful paragraph is: "Now couple that with the concomitant rise of the

"stuff means success" mentality and you've got an alchemical admixture sure to cause grief. Houses you don't need and can't afford, astounding credit card debt that will never get paid off, new car(s) every three years, or a new kitchen / bath / media room / home theater- it's a never ending source of post-consumer waste, untenable debt, worry, and unhappiness."

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:17 AM

11. Thanks!

Growing up poor, I guess I have a different view of success than some folks. If I'm making ends meet and have time / funds to do something fun on occasion, then anything else is gravy.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:10 AM

13. that is me, X_Digger

I was brought up by a Depression survivor and a WWII survivor - the meme was always get what you need and be frugal with what you want - it has served me well, as I have weathered this recession much better than a lot of people

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Response to Skittles (Reply #13)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 09:01 AM

16. Me too.

Grew up in a "poor" family (the quotes are because by the standards of that time my family didn't have as many material things but we never felt poor) during the '50's when most families were enjoying the post war boom. My parents emphasized to us children that there was no happiness in trying to keep up with the Joneses. They used to say, "Be happy with what you have; a roof over your head, enough food to eat and clothes on your back." And really, isn't that all we truly need in the way of material goods?

I am always fascinated by how our society became infatuated with the whole home improvement culture, especially the kitchen thing. I can't begin to tell you about all the people I know what have these amazing kitchens that are bigger than the house I grew up in (with my family of 9 people) and they barely know how to cook, have no time to cook, or eat out 5 days a week. Really? If that's the case, then you upgraded that kitchen merely to keep up with the Joneses because everyone was/is doing it. I went to a party one year that was thrown by the person at the top of the organization I worked for. Her house was huge and her kitchen amazing. I expected some really good dinner that she may have prepared in that amazing kitchen and I later found out that she had gotten the food from a carryout place and just warmed it up before we all got there. Some of the food came from Costco. She worked long, long hours so I don't know why I figured she'd find time to cook.

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Response to llmart (Reply #16)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 09:59 AM

17. That is the irony, isn't it?

Seems like the folks with the most 'stuff' don't have time to enjoy it.

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Response to llmart (Reply #16)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:49 AM

19. Guess to each their own

The "home improvement culture" seems like common sense to me. I want my place to be nice, and it is. Every upgrade I make to my home has distinct value and increases my equity by raising my resale value.

I did the French doors leading to the patio 2 years ago, last year I did the new AC/Furnace, and this year I will start looking at the kitchen. The tile in the baths needs to be redone as well, and most likely the bath in the master will end up with a new tub as well, certainly new facets.

I go into some people's house and I see 20 year old appliances, busted door frames, torn carpet, and faded paint and wallpaper and wonder why they would not keep up with their largest single investment. A home doesn't have to be huge to be nice, my little condo comes in at 1223 SQ feet and is very nice and cozy.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Reply #19)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 01:26 PM

20. I think it's more about the people who do new kitchens every 5 years..

.. or who go with granite countertops just because it's the "in" thing (never mind that it stains and is a pain in the ass to maintain.)

I know a couple who have had two new kitchens in the last decade; the second one included a sub-zero fridge, double ovens, built in wine fridge, and espresso / cappuccino / coffee-something-or-other machine. And they really don't cook.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #20)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 02:24 PM

21. This is beside your point, but

Granite is no trouble to maintain at all. If it is sealed, it does not stain. Just wipe it clean with a regular cleaner. You may be thinking of marble, which is beautiful but fragile.

But I agree that the ONLY reason to have either of those (or a nice kitchen or anything else) is if YOU enjoy it and enjoy hosting your family and friends.

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Response to Lurker Deluxe (Reply #19)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:03 PM

24. I look at it from a different perspective.

First of all, another thing my parents taught us was to take care of the things we did have and not to trash them. From what I see, the younger people don't take care of the things they have because their thoughts are once it gets worn/dirty/torn, etc. they'll just throw it out and get new.

Secondly, we saw with this last housing bust that sometimes it doesn't make any difference how up to date your house is if there aren't any buyers. I had to sell my house during that bust and I got about $50K less than I would have been able to get in the boom times of the '90's even though it was in a terrific location and was a terrific house. A basic rule of real estate (or anything for that matter) is your house is only worth what someone is willing to give you at the time you need to sell. I was looking for a home in the past two years and I can tell you that after looking at lots and lots of homes, I ended up buying a place from an elderly couple who must have come from the same set of values that I did. Their home was not "updated" per se; no granite, no fancy bathrooms, etc., but what was in the house was in absolutely clean and taken care of. I didn't/won't replace anything unless of course something breaks such as the furnace etc. Their house was on the market two days before it sold (to me). Apparently there were about 20 people who looked at it in that two day period and I was told they had 4 offers - one that was $5K over their asking price.



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Response to llmart (Reply #24)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:30 PM

26. Of coarse that is true.

This new place I purchased was built in 1987, the AC was original. So, while it was still working the upgrade is more efficient and doing the repair or upgrade at my convenience I was able to get a better price. When it is broken and you NEED to get it fixed you pay much more for the same service. I was able to make the upgrade in the off season (October in Houston) and save myself a grand or so.

The french doors over the sliders is the same thing, although appearance is very nice, the main point in the upgrade is energy efficiency. Keeping up with technology and maintaining a home to keep your utilities in check is a very reasonable and surely worth the time and money.

The kitchen overhaul would come with the same things. The stove/oven/fridge/dishwasher/microwave are all old and outdated and while replacing them I would certainly add new counters, sink, and faucets. Cabinets would most likely just be refinished but depending on cost could be replaced.

Appliances, carpet, tile ... all have lifespans and keeping those items newer will defiantly make your home worth more on the market when selling, in a "good market". I certainly hope that the house you purchased has had these upgrades going along, or you could find yourself with alot of expenses over the next few years.

You are, of coarse, correct as to when you sell your home depends on what you will get for it. Still, in the long run investments in your home are not bad. And, always remember that these upgrades put people to work.

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Response to llmart (Reply #16)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 04:26 PM

33. OMG ILLMART

I was watching Paranormal 4 on DVD last night - I kept marveling at how the kitchen was bigger than my apartment, yet no one was ever in it!!!

I hear you about the Jones - for decades I wondered, "How do people afford all this stuff?" - the new cars, the big houses, the accompanying big electric bills, etc. When the recession hit it became very apparent to me a lot of them COULDN'T afford it. I wonder how many of them are now wishing they had saved the money and gone smaller - a lot I bet.

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 02:31 PM

22. +1

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:03 PM

7. Thanks for sticking up for me! nt

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:14 PM

8. I agree with all of it. That's healthy.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:18 PM

9. K&R

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:30 PM

10. The world needs "ordinary" people.

They are the unsung heroes that make everything function. Let's hear it for us!!!!

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:36 AM

12. Still,....then again....

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 04:04 AM

14. Beautiful. I share this similar quote by David Orr frequently...


This part especially speaks to your OP: "We need people who live well in their places."

Love your sharing.




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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 08:27 AM

15. This post seemed to hit my heart

Your right we don't need more stuff. I will be thankful if my husband can just find a job.
You really don't know what is important until you find yourself completely jobless.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)


Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 02:53 PM

23. Agree with the caveat that this argument should not be used

as justification for much lower pay. Folks have different interests and ability levels, but I see nothing morally right about folks owning multiple residences and the like while others are homeless. As long as you are not using the argument for that purpose than I do agree with your OP.

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Response to TBF (Reply #23)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:32 PM

28. No, I wouldn't make such an argument.

A lot of folks that I work with seem to see their current position as a stepping stone to Associate Director / Director / Executive Director- as if they can't take a breath and enjoy life until they have a business card that they can brag about.

My executive director started with the same company at about the same time I did, and we became friends over the course of the last decade. He has no life outside work. Up at 5am for calls with his directors in India, in to work at 8am, and he might, just *might* get home by 9pm. Basically he works seven days a week. I'm lucky if I can get lunch once a month with him.

That's not living.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:25 PM

25. Material things do not make a person happy.

I have lived from one end of the economic spectrum to the other, and I can say without a doubt, my happiness has not been based on how much money, power or things I have. Even though I can afford it now, I could care less if I have a new car, a new house and biggest and best of everything else. My relationships with myself and those I care about are what matter.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:31 PM

27. Yes Mr. Durden

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #27)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:33 PM

29. :P ;) n/t

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:34 PM

30. k&r



You sound like you might be a Dudeist.

dudeism.com

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:36 PM

31. I have never understood those that think the have to give 110% at work.

 

100% is plenty. Most of us have jobs where we work to live, not live to work. Family and time to do you own thing are important in the long run.
Too many retire and literately die of boredom a few years later, because they know nothing else. That is no way to live.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 03:37 PM

32. Excellent

Thank you! It has taken a long time for this to start dawning on me, I am ashamed to admit. I have wasted a lot of time feeling embarrassed for not turning out well enough, but I finally realized that I am happy, and in reality the ranking human life mentality isn't for me.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 05:32 PM

34. All the titles you list you list doctor, lawyer a director of something-or-other, senior parter etc

as being 'not ordinary' are to me utterly banal and ordinary, typical, there are thousands of each version of each position. That's all very ordinary. Not that there is a thing wrong with being a good lawyer or doctor, it's just that it is fairly ordinary to be such a thing.
To amass a bunch of 'stuff' is more than ordinary, it is mundane, predictable, droning, dreary redundant...
Show me an interesting life, that's extraordinary.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 06:26 PM

35. k&r

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