Life, Wealth and Happiness

I chose the title carefully as the three can me mutually exclusive.

Stuff and Reality

Most of us grow up seeing a pattern of “wealth = happy.”  In fact some of the poorest people that I know are some of the happiest.  How is that possible?

The world today tells us that we “need” an expensive car, or the largest flat screen TV or whatever the newest gadget is.  Apple is doing their part by providing a new version of their products about every 18 months or so.

A few years ago a “car phone” was for the most exclusive and wealthiest of us.  Today, kids in grade school have a much more sophisticated version than I would have dreamed possible just a few years ago.

A simple automobile that cost a few thousand not too many years ago now cost upwards or $40K.  Of course you can spend $24K for the same basic car but it does not have the “logo” that the $40K car has.  Will the less expensive car do the same as the expensive car, probably; but it will not have the social status of the $40k car?  I cannot envision spending $150K on a car but there are many on the roads.

If you are a churched person you no-doubt know that “God will provide.”  Does that mean that if you pray really hard and give money to the church that you will get the $40K  or $150K car?  No.  It means that you will have the necessities of life.  The trick of course is realizing what the “necessities are.”

This is where the poorest among us have the rest of us beat.  They are happy with what they have.  One of my favorite song writers penned the phrase, “it’s not about having what you want, it’s about wanting what you got.”  If you think about that, it is so true.

“Failure to plan is planning to fail!”

Am I telling you to settle for less than what you have or want?  No, I am telling you to set your expectations accordingly, set your goals a little higher than your expectations, and take the actions necessary to achieve those goals.

Much like project management, your goals need to be fully planned.  What do you want, what does the end goal look like, and what does it take to achieve it?  What milestones must you achieve to get to where you want to go or be?   Goals should be on some sort of timed deadline.  If you set dates to accomplish certain milestones you are more apt to succeed at the end goal. Start with prayer for wisdom.  Praying to win the lottery is probably not going to get you anywhere.  If it does; please keep me in mind.. J  Realistic goals are part of the prayer process.  Few grow up with the goal of being a garbage man.  If you did, “bless your heart.” Many end up there because they failed to plan.

Do I look down on those folks, not on your life!  It takes all kinds of folks to make the world go round.  If more folks planned better, I think that finding a ditch digger or garbage man might cost more money.   I make a point to know my garbage collection folks.  If I can, I go out and tell them good morning etc.  The same is true of the mail person and even the janitor at the office.  They are all people and disserve the respect that you yourself would want.  If you think that you are better than them you are in dangerous territory.

Wealth or the lack thereof.

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I would seriously recommend taking the Dave Ramsey course for you who are just starting out.  After listening to his radio show for several months, I am convinced that he should be a required course in high school.  Credit card companies would lobby against that but, that would be just too bad.  Our progeny need to understand the fundamentals of his wisdom, and the sooner the better.

The good news is that if you are a parent you can go through the course with your kids.  It does not need to be mandated from the Ivory towers of DC.   Many churches around the country offer this course.  Why?  A tenant of the course is to be generous, think there could be a connection?  Too Cynical? Only they and God know their motives.

His mantra goes against current trends in advertising and indeed the way that we spend money!   His philosophy and wisdom really came from making mistakes and learning from them.  These are mistakes he made many years ago.  So, why make the mistake if you can learn from those that have already done it?  Like history, if you don’t know it, you will repeat it.

The jobs that you take should reflect some part of the path that you are on in order to achieve your goals.  Jobs can be milestones.  Let’s say I want to be a geologist.  I would start out learning everything I could about the subject from books to social groups that are like minded.  I might take an internship at a company that studies core samples.  Even if I have to wash beakers or crush rocks, I would be part of the process and undoubtedly something I learned would stick that I could apply later.

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The society we are in today has kids out of college with no practical experience looking for the big paycheck and the corner office.  Bless their heart!

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Many out there just take anything to get some sort of income.  Folks, this is ludicrous.  Letting fate decide your future is a formula for a life filled with dead end jobs being someone’s slave.  If you can’t afford to leave the bedroom that you grew up in, you are on the wrong path!  If you are forced to return to the bedroom that you grew up in because you are not making enough money to live on your own and be investing money in your future, you are certainly on the wrong path, or making bad decisions.

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Briefly, fast food jobs are for kids in school.  Those jobs will allow them to earn some spending money, gasoline and insurance money and if they are strict with themselves, some savings for college.  They teach the fundamentals of the working world and truthfully make one appreciate a real job when they get one.  I am a firm believer that everyone should have a fast food job as a child.

 

Retail jobs in general are the same type of job.  Most retail jobs are not a career choice that should be anywhere in your decision making process.  If those jobs are part time they are for kids living at home.  Unless your end goal is to manage some high end retail establishment, you have no business working there unless of course, you are a teenager.

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There is definitely a difference between adult jobs and “youth” jobs.  “Youth jobs are training wheels for life.”

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One job does not fit all.

I see way too many older folks taking retail jobs in places where there should be kids.  I think this is a direct reflection of the times that we live in.  The sad fact is that these older folks in these jobs allow their attitude towards that job to come through while dealing with the customer.  It is not hard to tell that they are not happy and feel that the job is beneath them.  Guess what; it most definitely is!  Staying in that job is mistake of monumental proportions.  Stay in it long enough to retrain and re-invent yourself if necessary, and then leave it for the teenagers that it was originally designed for.

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Some older folks are taking these jobs to get out of the house.  If you need the money, at least shoot for management.  Leave the kid jobs for kids.  Of course if you had planned correctly you would not need the money and could be spending your time out of the house, volunteering somewhere.

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The last few years, entitlement spending is at an all time high.  We are paying people to stay home and live on the government tit.  That money that the government gives away comes from those of us who are working, not living on the ignorance of a government run amuck.   If the politicians that think that what they are doing is correct they need to revisit it.

 

Anyone taking money from the government that should be working should be “reinventing” themselves.  Currently if you are attending school you are not eligible for unemployment.  What kind of foolishness is this?  If you don’t find suitable employment in X months you should be required to take some classes and I would argue that those classes should be subsidized by the government.  If you get an “A” 100% re-imbursement and so forth.  It is almost as if we don’t want you to ever work again, we want you to live on some small amount of money taken from those that are working.  Folks this is crazy!

 

If you know a politician or someone that you can talk some sense into by all means lets push this initiative.  People need a hand up, not a handout!

 

Business is not ignorant of this fact.  To get skilled workers to work for peanuts on a part time basis vs. dealing with kids who often have not developed a good work ethic is a bargain.  If they get college graduates to slave away at minimum wage jobs, that too is a bargain for them!  Keeping them at part time so they don’t have to screw with benefits, another win!

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We see the argument to raise the minimum wage so people can make a living at these part time jobs that school kids should be doing.  The pay is not the issue, the issue is that adults should not be doing these jobs!

 

Slavery is not Dead!

 

The problem is that these kids need those jobs as that is the next part of their training to become good workers.  A part time retail or fast food job is not for anyone that is serious about making a living.  Managing these occupations is another story however; it is slavery at best as you are most undoubtedly salaried and will work 50 or 60 hours a week and “it will be expected.”

 

Raising the retirement age was another mistake on so many levels.  Companies are shoving you out the door when you are 50 and looking for the college kids fresh out of school to bring in and abuse.

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This guy still votes too.  That is another blog for another time.

Very few companies see the value in bringing in older Americans as they would have to pay them a decent wage.  On top of that, these folks have experience and to some degree that experience might be askance of the job requirements and or environment of that company.  The phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” certainly may play through their mind.  Mature workers are excellent employees most always as they are skilled professionals and are not the party animals that they once may have been.  Their children are most probably out of the house, so little will pull them away from their task.

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Mature workers indeed need a vocation as we were designed to work.  Those of us who linger in the couch or in front of the TV or video games all day are most probably going to expire way before our time.  “A body in motion stays in motion!”  Keeping a regular schedule, going to bed at a decent hour, getting up at a decent hour, greeting the morning sun for fifteen minutes in the morning will keep you healthy.  There is of course more to it but these fundamentals are all too often overlooked!

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If you take a look at the richest people in the world (which is out there on the internet) you will notice Bill Gates is number 1.  The Wallmart and Sam’s ilk are close to that and there are so many others.  What I would like to call to your attention is that none of these made it there because they are “nice people.”  They are shrewd business people.  One has to wonder if they are “happy!”

 

Some of you may try to extol the virtues of Mr. Gates as he gives money to different charities, “what a nice guy!”  When Bill was buying the first operating system from a guy for $4k and licensing it to IBM for millions, I was involved with computers.  When Mr. Jobs was a criminal, phone phreaking, making his first large sum of money, I knew about it and how he did it.  When Bill got the windows idea from Xerox who happily showed him their ideas and products and told him about it being open source he happily took it and ran with it.

 

I have kept up with Bill, not because I am angry with him, he is a shrewd business man. One has to wonder if they “the richest folks in the world” are “happy” and how much money is enough?  How do people get so rich?  I wish I could say it was by treating people right and practicing good “ethical” business practices…

 

Retail stores hire folks are minimum wage and then give them just enough hours so they don’t have to pay for benefits.  Some reward their slaves with a few more hours for extra effort while only giving a few to the people who are not really motivated to be there.  Folks, it is hard to be motivated for $8 and hour, especially when it takes more than that to get a hamburger.  If you are working for someone, even as a slave, do your best as you are gaining experience not just in folding clothing but in dealing with people, managers and situations out of your control.  This also should teach you the value of an education and setting goals!

 

What is your goal?  Money is not a goal, but a tool.  Like a hammer or saw, it is nothing more or less than a tool. Money is a common tool that everyone can use to pay for or gain enough of to obtain food, shelter and the other basics for life.  In some cases it can buy you an island or maybe a small country.. It is still a tool and a means to an end.

 

Your goal should be to be happy, that I would wish for you.  Deciding on what is (happy) is another story.  Some find happiness in stuff, and others find it in family and friends.  Some of the happiest people that I know find happiness in serving others and or taking care of the other creatures that live amongst us.

 

I think that happiness is nothing more than a state of mind and those that have little to worry about seem the happiest.  I guess if you’re rich enough to hire people to worry about things for you, so you can focus on being “happy” that might be one example of being one of the world’s richest folks might work for you.

 

Personal growth, understanding the person in the mirror, makes me happy.  Each and every time I learn something about me, I am a little happier. There are few things that are in “your control.”  Getting a good education, understanding that knowledge is power is a great foundation for being happy.  Using that knowledge in a way that is consistent with “enlightened people” to me is a mark of wisdom.  Serving others, in some way that is consistent with who you are is another way to become happy.  I find that helping others takes my mind off of “self.” Looking at the bigger picture, one can appreciate the complexities of life and sort out the small stuff that should be in the noise, and not artificially elevated to demand your full attention.

 

This is a lot to chew on.  Questions and thoughts are always welcome.

 

-Best to you and those that you care about!

 

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