So – you are looking for happiness?

Everyone wants to be happy right?  Does that imply that they are not?  With all the images we see on television and social media etc, we tend to believe that everyone around us is happy and living great lives. Often it’s not the case.
I really like the Steve Cutts videos. They are like the Black Mirror series from Netflix. It really intriguing to watch, but it’s at the same time depressing.  It provides us with a blatant mirror effect that shocks and demonstrates certain aspects of our current lives in their worst ugliness. 
 I recommend you take the 4 mins to watch Steve’s video, ‘Happiness’. It puts the ‘Rat Race’ in full perspective, especially the very last scene!
Video by Steve Cutts – “Happiness”
We can all relate to the story of the poor rat in the video.  Always chasing happiness and never really finding it.  Trapped in a never-ending cycle of chasing and spending money.
This is all pretty extreme, so if we tone it back a little and focus on a typical ‘normal person’.  Someone who struggles through each week, longing for the weekend, only to find him or herself with that horrible feeling on Sunday evenings of having to start the cycle again, and again, and again.

Breaking the cycle

Can you beat the Monday blues forever?  I believe for many people that it’s possible. 
 I did it, but it took, time, patience and discipline.

Focussing on life’s priorities

Firstly you need to know yourself. What really brings you pleasure and fulfills you.  This sounds simple, but it’s not always so obvious, and being able to take a step back to analyze what are the key things in your life that make you happy, is not something that most of us take the time to do often (or even at all).  Caught up in the pressure of life through work, spending time with friends, family,  etc, can mean that even having 5 minutes to ourselves is not always easy.  So during your Sunday evenings when you start to feel not so good about the days ahead, make a point to note the times over the last week where you were really happy.  What were the times, who were the people, what were the experiences that made you happy? Do this over a number of weeks to get to know you better and start to look for patterns etc.  For example, I’ve always loved sport and used it to manage my stress in life, but it wasn’t until I thought about it deeply that I realized that sport was really important to me and that it was a key priority for me to be happy in life.
Once you know what your priorities in life are (or should be) then look at where you put your 2 key resources:
  • Time & Energy
  • Money

Taking stock of the current situation

Now take a look at where you spend your time and your money. Analyze your week and see where you spent your time. How much of your precious energy did you put into activities and tasks that were not in your focus areas to be happy? Do the same thing with your spending.  Review your expenses and see how much of your hard-earned salary went on things and activities that didn’t align with your priorities.

Where do you want to go?

Imagine now that you could realize your wildest dreams!  In your perfect life, you would spend your time and money only on your priorities in life, am I wrong?
So what would be the perfect day?
Waking up, taking time over breakfast, yoga for 30 mins, then meeting friends for a walk and then picnic in the park? 
What would be the perfect budget?  (You need to be really honest with yourself!)
  • Would you have as many clothes in your wardrobe (that you never wear because you have way too many, and you don’t remember why you bought that horrible shirt anyway)? 
  • Would you have as many gadgets that you rarely use lying around your house?
  • Did you really need to renovate your kitchen for the 2nd time since you moved into your house/apartment?
If you can identify the expenses that are not bringing you happiness, you will be defining opportunities for you to channel more of your resources into the areas of your life that are a priority for you.
To be truly free in life, you need to be financially independent. What is financial independence? For me, this means that eventually, you get to a point where you don’t have to rely on a full-time job. Instead, your wealth supports your lifestyle. You organize your life (over time) so that you have sufficient savings or sources of revenue that allow you to give up that day job at some point.

Building your lifestyle change plan to be happy

Choosing to be happy, is not a decision, its a process. Just as you would use your GPS, you can do the same thing with your lifestyle plan. You know where you are, you know where you want to go, but there are many choices of roads to get there.  A GPS helps you simulate the options you have.  Take a slow road and you take X number of hours, take the motorway, and you can get there in Y hours, but it might cost you more in road tolls, etc.
This simulation aspect is key. Everyone is different and will want to go at different speeds, and accept different criteria. The FIONNERS have published their financial independence plan. I like their example as they have chosen to build a solid plan to achieve financial independence, but at the same time, it does not limit their quality of life along the way.
We have many choices in life.  We can invest our money in many things and each has consequences on our future, expenses, and incomes that we could have. Being able to know the future impact of a current decision is very important. This is why I built the financial simulation application, EFILYM.  I needed a way to be able to analyze all the options that I had in front of me.  It took me around 3 years to finally have a plan that was acceptable to us. I was eventually able to map out how I could get to the life that was ideal for me and my wife and allow us to focus on our priorities in life.  The world is an ever-changing place and we will adapt our plan as time passes.  We have however built confidence in our ability to manage and be the masters of our lives and to not be the poor rat in the video.
EFILYM is now available so that you too can live the same life transformation that we did.
So what’s stopping you from doing the same thing? 

Are you really looking for happiness, or do you prefer to look for excuses that you could use later in life when you look back with regret?
I’d love to have your feedback on this article. Please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section below.

Credit Photo:  Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash

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