Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A 'Grey-n' of Truth

Preface: I'm going to be very vague here, because a ton of [real professionals] have done actual research and said things much more eloquently than I have... I am tired, stressed, and sort of derp-ing. But I was thinking a while ago, and I'm trying to do this thing where I capitalize on thoughts by actually expressing them. Novel idea, huh?

How many times have you heard that old cliche, "Money can't buy Happiness," and just had it sit wrong with you? Well, there has been a lot off study into the field of Happiness in the past couple years, and of course Happiness and Self-Actualization are linked. Point being, there's a grain of truth to the old adage, but it's not as black-and-white as people make it out to be. There's shades of grey, like everything else in life.

Anyways, if you aren't familiar with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, it's pretty simple and logical, and I haven't ever really heard any other arguments or alternatives. Don't correct me if I'm wrong--yes, I'm looking at you, Mr. Flagg and Mr. UW-Physics Guy.

So, I mean, it's pretty self-explanatory. You have to have a solid foundation in life, and you can't progress to the next stage until the level below you is stable. Most people get stuck around the Esteem level, but I know some people get stuck even as low as the Safety level--especially these days with the economy and yada yada yada. Not going to sit here and beat dead horses and twist the knife in everyone's hearts, but it's the truth of our world. Bad ish happens to decent people. 

So wait, I started this whole post by talking about Money. How does this tie in? Well if you can't see it completely, let me sum it up for you. Especially these days, we get beat over the head with two conflicting mantras--depending on factors like your family and upbringing of course. The first is, "GO! Make money! Be successful!! This is America and success equals happiness!" The second is a more stereotypically Eastern or Buddhist type view of, "Money is worthless and you should be concerned not with physical objects but with personal goodness." Again, I'm paraphrasing and super-skimming here. As always, the truth lies in the middle somewhere.
My theory is this: Money is a Tool. An agent. Money itself won't "buy happiness," but it can be a factor in the amount of your happiness. If you can't make ends meet and have bill collectors calling and going hungry, yeah, it's going to be a lot more difficult to be "happy." Conversely, if you have all the money in the world and just sit on it, then of course you won't be happy either. There are many TED talks and recent studies that back me up here. I think it was in the film 'Happy' where they theorize that--for modern Americans--an average income of around $40,000 a year is how much it "costs" to be "happy." Point being, anything above that only results in diminishing returns--more money doesn't equal more happiness. But, if you refer back to Maslow's Hierarchy; how, in today's society, are you going to manage health, sustenance, water, sleep, etc., without a certain amount of money? That is why we have a thing they call the "poverty line." The relationship between money and happiness is not linear, but [and again, don't correct me here and now if I'm wrong] logarithmic. See?

So, why am I rambling and ranting on about this now? Well, I've recently stumbled into a great deal of happiness. The real kind, the type that money can't buy. Although my personal finances mostly maintained, or got maybe a little tighter, my environment and reality vastly improved. And for some reason, I have this irrational fear that people [especially the ones important to me] will misjudge my intentions and emotions. So I strive really hard--and probably overcompensate--to prove that as a whole, money isn't really important to me. With that being said. I am about to be a part of a two-income household for the first time since 2011. And I can hardly explain how much stress this concept takes away from my daily life. There are so many less things [that's a terrible phrase] for me to worry about. On the graph above, I would have been hovering right around 'Survival.' Now, we are about to hop on up to 'Comforts.' But, since we both tend to have fairly simple and straightforward wants, for us, 'Comforts' and 'Luxuries' are placed a lot closer together, if not synonymous. So I was working on a combined budget earlier, and for the first time, it was comforting. It didn't cause me more stress than ignoring my finances. There is hope, and together, we got this. But at the same time, whatever little voice someone long ago planted in my head... I feel the need to reassure both of us that yes, that will all be nice, fine and dandy like sour candy... but truth is, it's all just icing and candles on the cake. It's not even the desert, and it's sure as hell not the entree. It's like, an afterthought for me. Sure it's on my mind a bit more than usual right now, but that's because my life is gradually changing quite a bit. I'm working on that blue triangle, but stalled out dealing with the green bar. With the support I have now... Maybe I'll get there. 

Parting thought: I don't think I expressed my conclusion as well as I'd like to. Here is the truth. 

And life is just a goal of building your niche after laying ^^^ THIS ^^^ foundation.
I thought I had it. But turns out I built my foundation on a swamp of lies and the house had to sink halfway to the second floor before I decided to climb out the window, escape, and rebuild. Now, I'm building on rocks. It won't be a mansion by any stretch... but it will be comfortable, and stable. Which is more than I can say I've ever had before. I am very excited and very much looking forward to the future. 

To my karma... remember, apparently "we deserve each other." 

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