I have not yet read Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive, but here is an excerpt a friend shared, which instantly touched a chord.
The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturizer? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind.
To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.
Investing isn’t away from the reality Haig has talked about in his book. The things we hear or read in business media, or what we hear most advisors and experts speak, are designed to depress us. Happiness (of their customers and prospects) isn’t very good for relationship managers peddling their toxic financial products.
We are sold insurance policies, mutual funds, and stock ideas as if our lives depended on them. And that if we don’t buy those products, we would end up in poverty and despair, even as our friends and all those friends we know on Twitter and Facebook would get rich.
People are led to make financial plans for 20-30 years ahead, while not many are taught to deal in the present with the behavioral aspects of taking care of their money, like simplicity, frugality, and patience.
Financial freedom remains a subject tied only to money and not to the peace that no amount of money or wealth would get us, but which is a subject matter of the understanding within, of course, along with enough money.
I mean, look at what Charlie Sheen, when asked what he’s going to do when he makes his millions, replied in the movie Wall Street – “I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket, I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China.”
Well, do you really need a ‘bundle’ (a huge sum of money) to buy a motorcycle and ride across China?
The fact is that the more we think that a lot of money is what we need to live happily, and the more we associate money with most things in life, the more we convince ourselves that we are too poor to buy our freedom.
But this is what the world is increasingly designed to do to us – always create that fear, urge, and urgency to go for more, even when we have more than enough.
However, like Haig adds to the above note –
Yet we have no other world to live in. And actually, when we really look closely, the world of stuff and advertising is not really life. Life is the other stuff. Life is what is left when you take all that crap away, or at least ignore it for a while.
Practice this in investing too, and you will be at great peace always. Take all that crap away – unwanted noise, advice, and financial products – and stick with what is the bare minimum, including the idea of having enough money and that’s it.
You won’t then have to wait for your financial freedom in the future, for the worry about having a lot of money will disappear right away, and you will start feeling grateful for what you have right now – adequate food, safe shelter, and the company of your loved ones.
That world won’t depress you, believe me.