When I retire, I will…

Last Sunday, whilst watching Germany pip Argentina to take the World Cup home for the first time as a unified nation, I started off on one of my usual end-of-weekend monologues. Mrs JAL is very patient when I get going on these, and I suppose it proves that we’re on the same page regarding where we are, where we’d like to get to, and why.

 

The oration was along the same lines as my usual Sunday evening wine-induced vocalised daydreams:

 

“Once I can stop working, I/we will be able to…”

 

I guess plenty of us do this, but it’s good to dream a little, at least just to keep the motivation – especially if the end goal still feels “a bit far away” (all relative of course).

 

Usually my list(s) involve a combination of travel and spending time with JAL junior, getting him out there to see the world with us. This time though, I had decided that if I didn’t have to go out to earn the daily bread the following day, I would be able to get much done around the house. We only moved back in earlier this year after renting it for 5 years, and there’s an endless list of things to be done. As my father told me: “it’s just the usual maintenance tasks that go along with home ownership, but they’ve been stacking up for the last 5 years so you’ve got them all at once”.

 

Apart from meaning that I get less time with junior, I don’t complain about this stuff and I’m really enjoying “doing it myself” and learning some skills that hopefully will serve us well when we pop a cap in the ass of the office life and try to survive (or even thrive) without job income.

 

I like the fact that when something needs doing, there’s often more than one way to do it. I’ve always had quite an analytical, technical mind, and I love problem-solving. These are useful enough traits in my career, but the fact that I can transfer some job skills that I do actually have – designing and building computer software to solve a specific problem or meet a specific need – into my new world of DIY, makes it more fun. I only have to learn the technical elements – how to handle the tools, which bits to use for which jobs etc. My Dad has always been so good at this practicaly stuff, he always did it himself and I never really got much of a look in as a kid (Note to self: let junior go wild with the circular saw if he wants.. or maybe not.)

 

Yep, I’m really getting into this DIY lark, and along with this increased confidence in “doing stuff” is growing an ever-stronger feeling to aim for efficiency, re-use, reduction of resources, and making the most of what’s available. By the time I jack in the job, we’re aiming to be able to provide roughly 35-50% of the food that we eat ourselves, by means of a small-ish vegetable patch, greenhouse and pots. We’ve started on this mission this year – our “trial” patch is going pretty well now, but whilst the endless supplies of lettuce and peppery rocket are pretty cool, we’re eager to start reaping some proper rewards! (AUBERGINEs, I’m looking at you!)

 

So, anyway, back to last Sunday’s sofa waffle, and combining the 3 things I’ve just alluded to:

1) Growing your own veg
2) Making the most of the resources you have
3) Designing and building systems to bring things together

Out of nowhere I heard the following words coming out of my mouth:

 

“You know, if I had the time – if I didn’t have to go to work – then I could build an automatic irrigation system for the veggies”

 

Wow. Eh? Dear 30year old JAL – did you ever think you’d be saying that in 6 years’ time?!

I expanded on that strange outburst:

 

“Yeah, we could harvest the rainwater, store it at the top of the garden, and then pipe it back down the garden to be released along the way, watering all the vegetables.”

 

Ok.. actually, this sounds kinda cool. And not really that difficult. Probably.

 

I wasn’t done:

 

“I’d build it as a modular system.”

 

Ohh, get me!

 

“Start with the basics.”

 

Now we’re talking.

 

“Collect the rainwater off the house roof and store it in one or more butts, depending on some calculations I would make about how much we need. Then we could fill the watering can from the butts, rather than the mains tap.”

 

Sounds sensible. We’re actually metered for water these days (i.e. not a fixed bill) so every drop counts. Not that we’ll save much ££ here – on the contrary, it’s gonna be years till we can hope to break even – but that’s not the point. We’re going “green” remember. Water is a vital resource, despite what many people in this “green” and pleasant land may think.

 

“Then, I would work out a way of getting the water to go “uphill”..”

 

(Ok, this could be the wine talking now.. good luck with that..)

 

“.. so we could store it at the top of the garden – get the butts out of the way of the house, out of junior’s way. From there, it will be a nice, easy, gentle downhill journey passing all the plants along the way. So I’d build an irrigation system that works directly from the butts.”

 

Ok, a bit lazy maybe, but hey, I’m really going on this now..

 

“Then… then.. I guess we could add a timer of some sort to automatically turn the taps on to water at the right times, morning and night, and we wouldn’t have to rely on Nan and Granddad to come and water for us if we’re away.”

 

Actaully, they’re thoroughly enjoying their own retirement and are rarely around these days, so we can’t really rely on that!

 

“And by the way, if there were pressure problems..”

 

… what, like with getting water to run uphill, for example..?

 

“… then a small pump would sort us out, you know, like the one we had in our campervan for the sink.”

 

Yep, that would do it.

 

“And of course, we could power it with a small solar panel and a generator – which I could knock up!”

 

Could I?! Hell yes, I’ll learn!

 

“Obviously we’d need some sort of system to keep track of the water levels, and maybe adjust the inflow and outflow accordingly..”

 

Amazingly, I already had something in mind for this. Once you get going with the creativity, it really flows. In my mind, it was already flowing like that water off the roof.

 

“And maybe a soil moisture monitor – no point turning the tap on at 9pm when it’s been raining all day..”

 

Ok, possibly a bit much, but this is the beauty of a modular system. You get to keep adding bits and improving things.

 

Well, Mrs JAL’s eyes were lit up. Who was this dynamic, creative, green-thinking man sitting (actually, standing at this point) next to her?

 

An automatic watering system to take care of our food production, using 100% natural resources (sunlight and rainwater) that are in plentiful supply to us and going to “waste” almost every day?

 

I finally slumped back on the sofa, regaining my former Monday-is-coming blues.

 

“If I didn’t have to go to work, that’s what I’d do. Anyway, back to the real world.”

 

I got up, went out the back of the house, filled the watering can from the tap and started the evening watering. As I padded back and forth, enjoying the warm dusky air and lubricating the leaves and soil – a pre-bedtime activity which I’ve really begun to enjoy – I started picturing the system of pipes and containers that I’d just been raving about.

 

I could do that shit, definitely.

 

If only I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow…

 

 

 

JAL

 

 

 

 

 

PS – To be continued..!

 

Confessions

Since I’ve started writing this blog, I’ve noticed I’m getting REALLY good REALLY quickly at dishing out advice and orders. But how good am I at listening to others’ advice and orders, or even my own?

 

Well, I’m self-employed these days – so that probably answers the one about orders; I take ‘em from nobody except myself 😉

 

And the advice? Well, I generally do try to practice what I preach. But in the last week or so I’ve noticed I’ve started to slip in a few areas. Since one of the main reasons for starting this blog was to make myself accountable, I feel like ‘fessing up to a few things. Hopefully I’ll shame myself into action (or in the investing case – inaction)!

 

So, here goes.. In the last 10 days I have…

 

1)      Done resistance exercise only ONCE (it should be 3 times in this period)

2)      Been running a grand total of 0 (ZERO!) times (I should have been once or twice really)

3)      Caught myself researching funds that AREN’T INDEX TRACKERS! OH THE SHAME!! 😉

4)      Considered buying a motorbike (not instead of the car, but as well as the car)

5)      Looked at long haul flights to take a decent break over the other side of the world

 

Stop, stop, that’s quite enough! Ok, so nothing really serious – we’ve still been socking the savings away, living under budget etc. – but you gotta nip these things in the bud early, or else! This time next year I could find myself still sitting at this desk, 2 stone overweight and invested in the latest Neil Woodford fund.

 

Better get back to it!

 

JAL

PS – As there always are, there are “reasons” for the things in my list having happened (or not). But since “reasons” is just another word for “excuses” I’m not even going to go there. There’s always a way to squeeze in some exercise, as Mrs JAL has shown in the last couple of weeks. She’s put me to shame!

 

Verti-GoPro goes loco, doh

Responsible for – amongst other things –  all manner of funny “sports fail” videos, potentially assisting people with insurance claims, helping to catch thieves, allowing us mere mortals some mouth-watering first person perspectives of what it might be like for elite extreme-sports men and woman (and/or nutters) strutting their stuff right in the sweet spot, and one of the most gorgeous videos I’ve ever seen, sports and leisure camera maker GoPro went public last week with a $24-a-piece IPO.

 

Falling into the infinitesimally small group of companies that I feel I actually “sort-of” understand – I know what their products are, what they do, who uses them etc. – I almost considered trying to get hold of some of these shares. However, I resisted because of one of the many reasons why I have steered clear of buying individual shares in any company thus far;

I have no idea what their “business model” is, what their accounts look like etc. and I’m not the sort of person (yet) that has the time or desire to look into it too much and try to make a call on whether I consider them “investable”.

 

It’s fair to say then, if I were to buy shares in any given company, it wouldn’t be the most well-informed decision, given my uber-lazy attitude in this respect. It could be said that it would be “a bit of a gamble”, and gambling is not high up on JAL’s “how to get rich” guide.

 

So, I stuck to my conservative guns, left all my investment dough in the confines of my warm, fuzzy passive index trackers, and let GoPro go pro without me. And what did I notice last night? In their first 4 days of existence on the NASDAQ, their stock pretty much doubled in price.

 

Whilst my initial reaction was obviously “Oh f***! If only I’d listened to my instincts and taken that punt…!”, at least I have re-affirmed something in my mind – even though occasionally I think I’m just starting to get a grip on the absolute basics of how “the stock market” works, it is still an entirely unpredictable place that scares the living crap out of me.

 

Maybe I’m wrong though? Maybe someone can explain this behaviour that we’ve witnessed in the first few days of GoPro’s IPO? If so, please let me know! Although I guess if anyone really did understand it, then they’d have also seen it coming, and thus have probably retired to their private island by now. In which case, don’t forget to send us a link to your GoPro scuba diving video 😉

 

JAL

Owning your home

I mentioned in Introduction To.. Wealth that money is an extremely emotive subject. So it stands to reason that if you stick absolutely truckloads of money into the place that you and your family live, then we’re on seriously dodgy ground! Strap in.

 

There’s plenty of people out there that will tell you that:

“owning your home is a terrible idea”

and there are people that will tell you that:

“owning your home is a great idea”

 

So, first up, my personal viewpoint; I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with owning your own home (and yes, in the interests of complete transparency, I’m biased because I currently do own my own home!). But it does depend on the circumstances; everybody’s situation is slightly different.

 

Run some numbers; it might be evident that it’s not the right thing for you to do, not at this point in your life anyway.

 

Alternatively, after running the numbers, and depending on what’s happening in your life, then owning your home might turn out to be a great idea.
Looking back, it was right for me to buy, it’s served me well. Paying off the mortgage last year felt amazing, and now we sleep at night safe in the knowledge that no landlord or bank heavy can come-a-knocking and tell us to “get orf their land”  (yes, yes, my house is freehold). And of course, we also have a much higher savings rate than before as we’re not currently paying rent or mortgage.

 

But here’s the thing – for people looking to become financially independent as soon as possible, you may be able to use your house as a way to reach FI earlier than you had previously thought possible.

 

Imagine that you’re planning to move towns, areas, or even better – countries. Or maybe you weren’t actually planning to move, but you are able to move, and you would consider it if that brings your FI date closer. Now then, if your current house (the one you own, or part own) is worth more than houses where you are going, then that could obviously work in your favour. (If you currently own a house in London, then I guess this applies to you if you’ll consider moving just about anywhere else!)

 

And things could be even better if the rent-houseprice ratio where you’re going is low too.

 

Here’s an example, and it’s a real life one; it’s our situation.

 

Our house is a 3-bed semi on the outskirts of town, with a current value of about £160,000.
Where we’re planning to move to, a similar sized house could be bought for €100,000 (or possibly even less, at the moment). At the time of writing that is about £80,000.

 

OR, here’s another idea – we could rent a house there for about €5,000/year (currently about £4,000).

 

So our £160,000 house sale would give us about €200,000, which is 40yrs rent money to stuff under the mattress. (Yes, that’s in “today’s money”.. obviously rising rentals would bring that number down.. although if the €200k was wisely invested then we’d hope to at least beat that nasty inflation).

 

OR, another idea – instead of selling our current house, we could rent it out for £600/mth (€750/mth) and bingo, it now pays our euros-rent, plus currently gives an extra “left-over” income of €330/mth. So that’s the food bill and the ‘leccy paid for. And assuming that rents rise fairly evenly in both countries, our rent (plus hopefully that extra bit for food and lights) would be covered for life.*

 

I would say it’s worth thinking about! Like I said – everyone’s situation is different, but there’s always more than one option, and I think that the process of thinking through these options – and thinking of new options you hadn’t previously considered – will stand you in good stead for this financial independence lark.

 

JAL

 

 

 

 

 

* Hopefully we’re talking about a period of at least 40 years here, and obviously the currencies could do all sorts of wacky things over that period! But again, if you’re willing to look at options, be flexible, “think outside the box”… then I think you’ll always find a way to make things work

 

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me.. some shares in Mercedez Benz?

What’s up world? How’s it going?

 

This afternoon I sat through a 2 hour on/off conversation between some guys in the office I’m working in today. I didn’t participate, for two reasons:

 

  1. I would have probably upset a few people (which is something I don’t generally like to do)
  2. I was making notes on the conversation because as soon as it started I could smell a nice, freshly roasted blog post ready for carving!

 

Basically, these chaps – all very nice, decent lads I should point out, nothing personal whatsoever here – were discussing cars, as work colleagues often do. To be more precise, they were discussing new cars.

– Which new car should employee (a) now purchase to celebrate his recent bonus (even though the bonus comes nowhere near paying for any of the cars in question)?

– How much has employee (b) been recently offered for his 3 years old motor by his friendly local dealer, in part-exchange for a new one? (62% of the price he paid for it just three years ago, by the way.)

 

Now, one of these fellas has only recently started work at this place. He used to work for a similar company that have offices literally right over the road from the office we were sat in. He and his (ex-)colleagues all became casualites of the ever-popular trend of outsourcing. Sympathy not really required though, it matters not to them – they all quickly got new jobs, and they all got not-at-all-insignificant redundancy payouts – miniumum £30,000 by all accounts. Tidy.

 

So anyway, this guy made it known that he’d just seen his old colleagues as they’d all been back to their old office for a lunchtime farewell. Three of his old colleagues, he told us, had just bought new Mercedes cars with their redundancy money. The group of guys involved in the conversation all then toddled off together for a look – and sure enough they came back 10 minutes later with a photo of the three new Mercs parked next to each other, shining and resplendant in the midday sun.

Now..(brace! brace!)..

I’m not criticsing these three people at all – it’s quite obviously their money to do what they want with. But…

By golly, if I had that sort of lump sum paid to me.. Well, I reckon I would be quite a bit further down the line to financial independance, whichever way you look at it. That £30,000 (the lowest sum received, remember!) would fill two people’s nISA for the year. Or maybe it could become a decent deposit on a buy to let property.

 

Having scribbled down some notes and drafted out the blog post thus far, I went for a quick walk. And I thought “I wonder what would have happened if, instead of purchasing one of the rapidly-depreciating and completely-unnecessary-to-them products of the company, they had instead invested in shares in the company ?”

 

Well, let’s see.. Here are Daimler’s share prices:

 

14th March 2014 (when these guys got their big cheques and P45s):

64.41

 

25th June 2014 (today):

69.28

 

So.. wait.. If they’d have bought shares in Daimler instead of the car itself, they’d each now be looking at a minimum…

– £2,268 increase on their initial capital?!

– Almost 7.6%!!

– In THREE MONTHS?

 

Hands up anyone who would like to see that sort of return on their money?

Wow.

However, back in the real world… Instead of looking at that 7.6% INCREASE on their money, they now have a car. A car which, if they took it today to a dealer to “trade in” or just “get rid” then I reckon the dealer would be offering them.. what?.. at the absolute top-end.. 80% of what they paid for it? A 20% LOSS.
Now, ok – this is all a tad contrived, because back in March I almost definitely wouldn’t have said to them “buy shares in Daimler!”. Also, of course, they could have invested that money and lost 7.6%, or even more. But then, I wouldn’t have recommended they sell an investment after 3 months anyway (except, perhaps, if they had seen a 7.6% return on it in that time..!). No, had they asked me, I probably would have just recommended they bought “some sort of investment” with it, and then left it there for a minimum of 5 years. Keep the current, perfectly serviceable motor vehicle, take up your next job, and seriously get to think about winding things down a bit in 5 years time, aged 45.

 

So, as I said, I almost definitely wouldn’t have recommended buying shares (regardless of the company – I just don’t do “shares”) – I just had that thought on my walk and thought it would make for an interesting point (and I think it did!). But how’s about if they’d have invested in something which I might well have recommended? What if they had just stuck that money in one or more passive investment vehicles, index trackers?

Well, let’s look at an example:Vanguard LifeStrategy 80. It’s currently up 3.2% in those 3 short months. Not quite the awesomeness of 9%, but what would you choose :

3% increase, or

20% decrease

?

Again, I must point out that the tracker could have quite easily lost value in this time too, but that’s not the point because I wouldn’t be recommending they sell for quite a while anyway. The JAL investing plan isn’t based around buying one day and selling the next. We buy an investment with a view to keeping it for at least 5-10 years.

 

Also, we haven’t mentioned dividends either. Those guys would have been getting a little bit of that too, a nice bit of extra income as well as the capital gain. That income, compared with the outgoings of motor vehicle ownership..

 

Hey ho, enough already. I hope those dudes enjoy driving those cars, ‘cos I reckon they’ll be driving them (if not even costlier replacements for them) for another 20-30 years. Driving them to some office or other. Rather them than me!

 

JAL

Use it or lose it!

Hi there!

 

Due to various reasons, it’s been a long time since I managed to post anything. My most humblest apologies, but – if you know me at all by now, you’ll know that there will be no excuses! Time to get back to it, there’s so much still to say.

 

As has been the case for the last couple of months (but this time largely down to something more trivial) I don’t have an awful lot of time right now, so this will be brief. Nothing wrong with that – brevity being the soul of wit, and all that – and that’s what we’re about here at thejustaboutlifeblog; distilling things down to a few simple, easy to remember points that get us ahead and keep us there.

 

Anyway, I digress..

 

To set the scene – I’ve started doing quite a lot of work for one client, and most of my time with them is currently being spent at one site. I always try to take a lunch break, to reap the many benefits of a little exercise and fresh air, and occasionally I walk past the village library. Now, I had always assumed that you had to live in a certain area to join the local library of that area, and as we don’t live in the same area as the library in question, I never even stuck my head in the door. Until yesterday lunchtime, that is, when I finally plucked up the courage to go in there for a nose around. And guess what? I found out that I can indeed join – they don’t care where in the UK I live. So I did, I joined that there library, and took 3 books out immediately.

 

I still consider myself incredibly fortunate to live in an age and society where we have these oases of resource-filled calm within stumbling distance of most Wetherspoons. The library in question is not a huge one, but it’s still got plenty of decent-looking reading material to keep me busy, internet access, wifi, it’s air conditioned, and did I mention – it’s FREE? Over the last few years I’ve probably been guilty of buying too many books – I bet you know the drill; you buy far more books than you could possibly ever read in the time before you go again and buy some more! I could have saved myself a bit of dough had I just used the library, and I wouldn’t have had the storage headaches at home either.

NOTE: I very,very rarely buy new books, I’m a charity shop book-buyer. It’s one of my simple pleasures in life. Browsing through their endless shelves of as-new books, and looking for the hidden gems amongst the mountains of “I’m A Celeb (Except I’m Not.. Or Am I.. Who Cares?)” autobiographies.

 

Once I’m done with chastising myself for not having re-discovered the wonders of the local library sooner, I’ll be posting again. Until then, enjoy the football and, if you’re Spanish or Australian, maybe pop down your local library at half-time and get yourself a self-help book on “Coping With Loss”.. and return them again soon before us English need them 😉

 

JAL

 

 

 

 

 

PS – This post is deidcated to Mrs JAL, who quietly (what other way is there?) joined our local library a couple of months ago and brought home some books to help us:

a) grow a higher quality, and a bigger quantity of crops in the JAL trial vegetable patch
b) prepare interesting and healthy foods for a 1-year old who’s allergic to almost everything :/

– Mrs JAL (and junior JAL) – you are my inspiration!

 

 

Introduction to.. Happiness

“The greatest gift that I possess”

 

Whilst writing about health and fitness comes relatively easy to me (through years of doing it), and being frugal has always been in my nature, sitting down to write about happiness is a tough one. Not because I’m not happy, but probably just because it’s not something we talk about that often, and it can be difficult to see just why one person is happier than another.

Happiness is a mental or emotional state   So straight off the bat, we can see that it’s got to be difficult to measure! Not that that has stopped people trying – as we shall see, there have been many, many studies about happiness, going back hundreds of years.

I’ll try not to get too twee, too patronising, or too much like an old bearded man mumbling incoherently about zen.. although I can pretty much guarantee I will fail on all of those counts at some point in the next few paragraphs.  

 

Two-step

Once again, I’m going to go for a ridiculously simple 2-step plan… Why break the habit of a lifetime?!

  1.       Don’t want “stuff”
  2.       Live in the now

Anybody familiar with the basics of Buddhism may well recognise something here! 😉
Ok, let’s get stuck in to that..

 

1. Don’t want “stuff” (or “stop suffering”)

sufferingisunhappiness

 

 

The Buddha said that the human condition was suffering.

Nietzsche said that to live is to suffer.

We suffer, so we are unhappy.

So far, so good, so simple?   Eliminate suffering, and you eliminate unhappiness.   By extraction then, if you eliminate unhappiness then you will have happiness.. (hmm.. interesting topic for a further post I think!)

That’s all fine, but how can we reduce – or ideally eliminate – suffering?

Suffering is caused by desire (which in today’s world often translates to material things).

To cut a long story short, ultimately many people think like this:

“If I get this.. then I’ll be happy”

“If I had that.. then I would be happy”

Well, guess what? STUFF doesn’t bring happiness.

Not real, long-term happiness, anyway.   It will almost definitely bring short-term happiness.   But it won’t last – it never does.

Here’s an example.   You’re doing the weekly shop and you see the latest 92” 3d TV in sexy Black/White/Chrome/WhateverFinishMrJonesNextDoorHasJustGotHimself.. and you think:

“Wow! If I had THAT TV in my living room, I’d be soooo happy!”

And you might be happy – for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. The weekend football match will be a whole new experience!   But in 3 weeks’ time, it already WON’T be a whole new experience.. because the “new TV” is now the “current TV”, and watching the sports on the current TV is just the regular routine experience again.   So now you need to find the next thing that will make you happy (for another couple of weeks), and then the next thing.. and so on.

 

The happiness effect of “getting stuff” wears off (but sadly we never retrieve the expended cost in getting that short-term boost)

Although in the above example I talked about a new TV, this actually applies to most things that we seek to attain or achieve in our lives – a new TV, a new car, a house, a promotion, a trophy wife..

LONG TERM HAPPINESS CANNOT BE BOUGHT WITH “STUFF”

(Which is actually great news for us, right? Because, as we know, the acquisition of stuff costs us money.. money that could be saved and invested, enabling us to have our desired lifestyle a lot sooner..)

So, to summarise part 1:

To reduce or eliminate suffering, STOP WANTING STUFF!

 

2. Live In The Now (or “appreciating that nothing is permanent”)

thistooshallpass

 

 

Us humans are some seriously smart dudes.   We have the amazing ability to think.   Unfortunately, this means that it’s all too easy to get hung up thinking about things.   If we let our minds just roam free, all sorts of undesired things can happen. We lose the ability to concentrate, we feel tense and stressed, we concoct scenarios in our heads and start to worry unnecessarily..

I talked about control in the <link>Intro to wealth<link> and here it is again. Worrying about things is just another way of trying to control things. Given that there are ultimately very few things that we can control, what’s the point in worrying?

Shit is gonna happen, there’s nothing you can do to avoid it, so there’s no point in worrying about it!

So to help us to cope, here’s what we can try to do:

  • Live in the now
  • Connect with the moment
  • Breathe

Some would call this Meditation, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit on a hard floor in a position that could compromise our future ability to sire children. There are all sorts of ways to “meditate” (including <link below> going for a walk).

I find this really helps.   It certainly helps when you start to worry about something – maybe a trip to the dentist. You start going through a “What if they do this?” “What if they do that?” thought cycle, and before you know it you’re worried about a root canal that may very not be about to happen.

Just try focusing on now.

Where are you?

What can you see?

What can you smell?

Wiggle your right big toe…

Staying in this moment, right here and now can help to get things into perspective and help to stop this unnecessary suffering. Try it some time!  

To summarise part 2 then:

Be here, now!                                                        

 

Wait, how can I…?

Now, astute readers will notice that there’s a bit of an anomaly here, a clash with one of the other topics discussed on this blog; that of reaching Financial Independence.

The problem?   There’s two, actually.

Firstly, a “goal” by definition is something that we desire.. and we know that desire causes suffering.

And secondly, to make a goal, and indeed to make a plan to achieve that goal, by definition we are planning for the future, thus we have to think beyond the current moment.

 

Panic not though, because here are my comebacks:

1)  Financial Independence is not a material desire – it’s not the massive stack of £50 notes we’re after, it’s the lifestyle that having that stack can afford us, the extra time with the family etc.

2)  Obviously planning for one’s future is “permitted” in Buddhism – otherwise there probably wouldn’t be any Buddhists around because they’d all have jumped off cliffs without parachutes, or walked in front of buses, because “in that moment” when they set off, everything was fine…          

 

Quick fixes  

So long term, we need to stop thinking about stuff, and sometimes just to stop thinking altogether. But is there anything we can do to improve our happiness in just a few minutes, or even seconds? Yes!  

 

– Take a walk

Something that never, ever fails to cheer me up, is just to get out and take a walk. And it seems I’m not alone in noticing this

It wakes you up a bit, gives you some fresh air, pushes oxygen through the body, and always peps you up a bit.   Simple, free, healthy and happy.

Bang on! We just did something beneficial for all 3 aspects of this blog (health, wealth and happiness) and as if that wasn’t enough – it was simple. You can’t help but feel happy with that!

But, wait.. that’s not all! On top of ALL that, it also makes us more clever!  And possibly even help to stave off dementia.

And I can personally vouch for this– I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been scratching my head over some problem for a couple of hours (be it work-related, or how to plug a hole in our plans for financial independence) got up to go for a walk, and within minutes an obvious solution – or a method of finding a solution – has just appeared clear as day in my mind. That oxygen hit is seriously underated!    

 

– Always look on the bright side of life

If all else fails, just start smiling, or laughing!

“Laughter is the best medicine” they say (although if you’re diabetic, I’d probably recommend insulin).

But it seems it’s true. Studies have shown that not only can our mood control our actions (i.e. if we are happy, we smile), but our actions can control our moods (i.e. if we smile, we are happier)!

This is interesting stuff – basically if you smile and laugh, you may well feel a bit happier straight away.

Try it!

Or just look at Paul Mghee trying it, it makes me smile!

 

Until next time – keep smiling!

JAL

 

 

 

 

 

PS – In researching this article (and ensuring that I hadn’t imagined the studies etc!) I found some really good stuff. Here are  just a few relevant and interesting links that didn’t get included above:

http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm

http://www.holistic-online.com/humor_therapy/humor_mcghee_article.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/18/science/a-feel-good-theory-a-smile-affects-mood.html