The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!
Last Sunday’s Parade Magazine featured an article titled, “How The Economic Crisis Changed Us.” I was expecting a narrative piece, but it was mostly a series of very interesting statistics, such as:
“Many Americans have made significant financial adjustments in their daily lives. Eighty percent say that they’ve been “forced to do more with less,” 73% have had to make unexpected changes, and 19% have sought some form of government assistance. Necessity has led 27% of respondents to pursue extra work. “
I find the idea that 80% are “forced to do more with less” to be a very interesting oxymoron. It’s not doing less with less, but doing more. Which in theory should be a positive. But not if it’s forced.
I am fully aware how easy it is for me to find satisfaction and joy in crafting a life with less, but it’s mostly because that decision is my own. It’s an entirely different state of mind to “do more with less” when it’s forced upon you because of events and circumstances that are out of your control. (Job loss, divorce, medical bills, etc.)
A prime example of this dichotomy can be found in our dinner from last night. I cooked a wonderfully satisfying meal of lentil soup with biscuits which did not engender any feelings of deprivation. However, if I had chosen to prepare this meal because the money wasn’t there for our normal meal or even a dinner out, that satisfaction would have been replaced by resentment and other negative emotions.
I want to do more with less, therefore that action is satisfying and empowering. I am in control of the circumstances of my family’s life. We don’t have muchspare money floating around after the bills are paid, but that doesn’t affect our quality of life.
- When I’m raking my yard, I’m not upset that I can’t afford a landscaping service. I happy that I have a yard to rake.
- When I’m preparing dinner, I’m not resentful that we can’t eat in restaurants all the time. I’m happy that my family will eat simple healthy meals.
- When I browsing the racks at Goodwill, I’m not wishing I were at Nordstrom.
- When I get together with my friends, I’m not sad about the lack of a fancy girls’ nights out. I perfectly satisfied with a walk through the neighborhood and an occasional cup of coffee in a local cafe.
- When I spend all day cleaning my house I’m not annoyed that friends have cleaning services while I spend countless mind-numbing hours keeping my house in order. Oh wait a minute — I do wish the cleaning service fairy would sprinkle her pixie dust on my house. Seriously though, I could never spend the money hiring this job out when that money could be so much better spent, or better yet not even earned.
This issue of doing more with less is not a simple mindset to change. Two people can have the exact same income in the exact same situation and one person can feel deprived while the other feels rich. There is no easy solution to help people appreciate what they have, rather than what they don’t. Culture, family background and individual personality all play a role.
Do you work hard to appreciate what you have, or does it come naturally? Please share your thoughts inthe comments section below.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”