Thus far, the year of the snake has not been our year. The ever growing list of calamities is too long to mention, but let’s just say supply is not keeping up with the universe’s demands. It’s so easy to get depressed and believe that it’s never going to end. That things will never get better. That despair will always be a step away. No matter how hard you work, things will never change.
They say that money can’t buy happiness, and this time they’re right. But let’s not pretend for one second that a lack of it isn’t difficult. It is. That’s just a fact of life. But today, I want to change my story. Maybe I can convince myself by trying to convince you. This is an unusual type of post, but this blog has always been about real life, and making things awesome with less. It’s a necessary departure in our journey.
Here are five ways to stay awesome when $20 a day is a luxury.
Take back your power
I made a plan to cut our spending and try to rebuild our savings. I don’t know if it will work, but we’re going to give it a shot. Having a sense of control over your destiny, even if it’s an illusion, is empowering. I’m doing something about it, rather than just letting my problems control my life. I’m not throwing up my hands. I’m taking back my power.
Making a budget is too much like math. I don’t do math. But building obscure plans and rules is right up my alley. I came up with a strategy for my husband and I to try to limit our spending and put some money back into our savings account. And there are rewards at the end when goals are met, so the incentive is awesome. It will force us to make some tough choices, but hopefully, we won’t have to live like paupers. Too much restriction is depressing. Too much freedom is a slippery slope to the poor house. I hope we’re hanging out somewhere in the middle. Somewhere called awesome.
This is, of course, both literal and figurative. I find the best way to clear my mind is to take a walk, preferably somewhere with beautiful trees and flowers. Sitting in one place and dwelling on your problems does absolutely nothing to solve them. It just makes you feel like crap. Decidedly unawesome.
Get up, get out, breathe deep, and just put yourself somewhere else for a while. Nature won’t ask you to spend a dime. The exercise will do your mind and body good. And if you go with a friend, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to laugh about. Getting out of your house, and outside of yourself, can be a tremendous relief. It’s awesome out there. Go get in it.
Be exactly who you are
Sometimes you’re just flat broke, and there’s no way around it. Often, though, I find that my feelings about my lack of money have more to do with society’s expectations than from anything actually related to who I am or what I want. If I don’t have a decent house/car/clothes/pet/phone/gadget and on and on, people will think I’m a failure. If I don’t have a high paying job with an impressive title, people will think I am a useless waste of space. Wait a minute? Since when did I start caring so much about what people think?
It’s so easy to give into expectations, even if that’s not truly what makes you happy. Honestly, the thing that’s brought me the most contentment lately is writing this blog. It makes me about five cents a day. I don’t want to spend all my time doing something I hate just so I can buy stuff. It’s only making me miserable and making someone else rich. I would like to be more secure, but I don’t need things to prove that I am successful. I don’t need to play that game. I do occasionally need $5 for a mai tai.
So, you strike a balance. Trade some hard work for the moments of pleasure where life really happens. And you scheme to tip the balance more toward the wonderful moments. And you ignore the voices that tell you what you should be because you know who you are, and who you are is awesome.
Open up to love
Getting through hard times is so much about shifting your perspective. You have to confront your problems, sure, but you don’t have to dwell in them every moment of every day. It’s easy to isolate yourself, especially when you don’t have money to go out. Don’t do it!
Reach out to the people you love, and they will help to take you away, if only for a moment, from the heaviness. I, myself, sometimes have to dig a little deeper to find the happiness, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to make an effort to dwell more in the light and push the darkness to the edges. Gather your friends and family around you. If you need some time for catharsis, take it. But skip to the laughter as quickly as possible. That’s where the living happens.
And if you ask nicely and make a pouty face, they might bring a bottle of wine.
Even with all the problems we face, they are still first world problems. We’re struggling in the perspective of our neighbors, but worldwide, we’re in the top 12% in income. The fact that I can walk into my kitchen and have drinkable water at any given moment is a blessing and a miracle. I may not have a dryer, a dishwasher, air conditioning, or access to affordable healthcare,but I have safe drinking water. I have a roof over my head. I am able to read. I really am privileged. Everybody’s life is complicated, regardless of income. We all have struggles. My problems are not any less real, but neither are my blessings. It’s worth remembering.
I know we’re not the only ones struggling these days. I am determined to hold onto my awesomeness. I just have to choose it. Who’s with me?