It is actually quite a challenge to live happy today. Pick up a newspaper, turn on a radio or watch television news and let the depression begin. The only media person who appears to be relatively jubilant at present is the RTE financial analyst George Lee. As he gives his reports you can’t help but notice an edge of excitement in his voice, even though the actual news he is relaying is less than upbeat. His excitement stems from the credit crunch that is being prophesied everywhere and no one could escape George’s ‘I told you so’ undertones.
George has been forecasting the gloom for years now, even while everyone else was happily basking in the sunny rays of financial success he was one of the few voices telling us it would all end in tears and that the dark clouds were on the horizon. We were borrowing from the future by releasing the equity in our houses and buying jeeps and conservatories and using credit cards to live the dream. There was no such thing as a free lunch and inevitably, one day, we would have to pay the price. On top of our property loosing value and our out of control credit cards and loans, crime lords and gangsters are taking over our streets, our hospitals are dangerous and our roads even more so, our future is bleak with spiraling nursing home costs and now that Bertie has resigned, the entertainment has been taken out of politics. Taking it all at face value could easily make you want to throw in the towel and give up immediately.
Of course all of this is a general outlook and without meaning to flippantly suggest that we totally ignore what is going on in the world around us, it is important to keep all of this collective ‘bad news’ in perspective. On balance when we look at our own individual lives there is much to celebrate. It may never make national or even local headlines but if we start with our own little micro worlds and concentrate on what is good in them we see quite a lot to appreciate.
For most of us paying a mortgage is not just about a financial investment. Our homes are exactly that and shouldn’t necessarily be viewed in black and white economic terms. If you are managing to meet your mortgage then so what if the inherent value is up or down at present. It is where you live and, hopefully, enjoy being. For the majority of us mere mortals who go to work everyday to earn a living in order to pay the mortgage, put food on the table and bring up children, a credit crunch just means relaxing the luxury indulgences. The family trip to Disney this year may be under threat, a designer handbag may no longer be affordable or a new car might be out of the question, but there will still be plenty of food to eat, a bed to sleep in and decent clothes to wear.
not in view
The workhouse and hair shirt is not in view. We dramatically complain about what we don’t have or can’t afford, when all the time our not having enough money is based on a comparison with the so called ‘haves’ instead of measuring ourselves against the ‘have nots’, where we would instantly be grateful for our vast wealth and good fortune.
Reading this it would be easy to assume that I am a pious preacher of gratitude and obviously don’t understand what people are going through. Nothing could be further from the truth. I often fall into the whining trap also. I catch myself lamenting over my old car, fantasizing about a new home or a fancy holiday, getting thoroughly discouraged as yet another unexpected bill lands on the doormat immediately burying that outfit I had my eye on. Only last week I wasted a whole day in misery over an unexpected financial outlay.
There is no doubt that concentrating on the negative can only lead to more of it. Wallowing in self pity shuts down the capacity to be creative or find solutions to problems. I used to think that this was just ‘self help’ claptrap but the reality is very different. Misery is very easy and often, for me, the lazy option and daily news just feeds it. There is often a huge and very rewarding challenge to be found in purposely finding something that makes you happy every day. Many suggest regularly writing down a list of all the good things in your life. I’m sure there is merit in this but I’ve never taken the time to do it. However, I often do it mentally and, particularly at difficult times, it certainly helps.
There are movements out there that suggest never reading or hearing the news which again is an extreme point of view. Extremes either way are a problem. Never allowing the news to enter your sphere can be as detrimental as that feeling of being out of touch if you miss one bulletin. Life is a balancing act and we need to get smarter at doing it. If the credit card is out of control stop worrying and actually do something about it. The same applies to your health, children or any other negative situation.
The credit crunch will come and go, just like the boom appears to have come and gone but daily life survives. Start appreciating all that you have and let ‘The News’ be just that. Rudyard Kipling once said something along the lines of ‘Treat triumph and disaster as the same imposter’. Mr. Kipling may have originally said it, but it is a favourite and regular quote of a somewhat unlikely guru, Waterford’s Matt Keane, the person I learned it from. Keane and Kipling are obviously both very wise indeed and the rest of us would do well to take note. Have a happy week.