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4 Happiness Paradoxes

By The Contender @The__Contender

4 Happiness paradoxes

Learning something new, making mistakes and having fun

We all have the choice of happiness, it all depends what we choose happiness to be.
1. Accepting who you are, the mistakes you have made, the hand you have been dealt then do something about it.
2. Finding time to be happy in a hectic life
3. Searching for personal happiness
4. What are some of the "costs" of seeking happiness

Finding time to Reflect, Learn then Move on

It has been a couple of months since I last posted. In this time our family has been learning a lot more about ourselves through the mistakes we are doing and new skills we are learning on a day to day basis on our house renovation.
1. This is definitely a challenge for us. At the same time we are having a great time learning lots of new skills while messing up and then correcting our mistakes.
I have accidentally knocked holes through walls whilst trying to lay electric cables and cut out the wrong duct for wiring. It did not stop there, outside I got with the chainsaw stuck (pinched) in tree trunks several times. On the roof I have probably broken as many tiles as I have fixed.
2. The wife and I are getting to know what makes us tick day to day activity to activity.
We have come to the same conclusion we can be both wrong at the same time ;) We respect that we both work differently and have learnt how to work around each other in this new lifestyle we have chosen.
3. We are taking our time making sure we enjoying our surroundings, still seeing our new friends and the choices we have made.
Our children adore the clearing we have made at the center of a patch of bamboo. We have picnicked outside at every opportunity. Having a break on the roof to admire the view is priceless.
“Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers... Choose DSY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away in the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself, choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that?”
― Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting  

Make mistakes but don't beat yourself up

Yours truly has made many mistakes, I continue to make them. I am a continual pain to the family, teasing, demanding and being just me. I know this and consistently try to do something about it.
It is the way I am. Thankfully I am not at the stage that I need go out and buy the new 220V wrist strap electrocution habit changing device that has been in the news. At least I haven't asked the wife and kids yet!
The past has happy memories but constantly reminds you of past challenges. For instance from a stoic perspective, what was so bad?
Making a fool of myself - sure I have been a fool but has it cost me a roof above my head? Even worse am I going without food or have a health problem?
I may have compromised friendships in the distant past but I have time to correct the error of my ways. I move on with past reminders pointing me in a better direction.
For example everyone is different and has different ideas. Understanding that they have problems and concerns nudges us to try and understand why we have not been replied to our emails, why they are not free or even if we are not the right type of people. We have lost touch with so many friends - a natural result of changing our lives and not being close to theirs. 
In effect we have opted out of the old way of life that we effectively ended those relationships.
Making mistakes is part of life, you can look back on them laugh, take pride in what you learnt.
So never be too hard on yourself, learn to move on, carry on making lots of mistakes, meeting new people and making new friends.

Learning about personal happiness

Happiness, life, peace and tranquillity are all helped by free time. Me time. Family Time. Friendship Time. Their Time.
Without giving yourself and the people around you free time to reflect, think and relax, tranquillity will pass you by. An overly busy day schedule, massive to do list, or even procrastination of the big issues to be addressed distracts from the appreciation of what we have and the world around us.
I find the need for free, quiet time, essential. It gives you time to think and understand who you really are, why you act the way you do, ponder how other people actually see you, what your real needs are and do something about it.
After such a reflection free time becomes more precious as you can see the error of your ways or opportunities to be happier and help make the people around you happier.
Seeking more free time can be the logical next step. Reducing material needs, increasing passive income allowing a change such as a new more enjoyable career, downshift, stop or just take time out takes on more meaning.
We do not have long commutes to work any more. The combined 3 hours of free time we have taken back is there for us to do as we wish. The other day we just stopped by the side of the road and admired the clouds over the chin of mountains between France and Spain. Yesterday we got lost in the aisles of the local big city bookstore - no need to check if we were late to go back to work! The time is being used for us, doing the things we need to do to look after our family (fixing the roof) or enjoying each other's company (drawing cats and lions with our toddler). It is happier time as we are not being told what to do or how to do it, we are doing it of our own free will.  
Life is short, it can fly by so quickly so fill it with what you want not what your employer or your creditor wants.

I can't afford to do that, can I?

4 Happiness paradoxesMoney, time, friendships, status? What is the cost of this tranquillity, friendship, and reflection?
I have touched on Maslow's pyramid of needs in several posts.
Materially we really need very little to live. 
We now live with a quarter of what our income was. We still live normal lives with a car and house. We recently took the kids to the theater to see a play. We visited a beautiful vineyard where they went on a horse-led cart across the fields while we tasted the wines. We still take holidays. What we don't do is waste money on unimportant short term wants such as magazines, newspapers, eating out too often and the latest gadget or craze.
On the other hand we need to invest time wisely to be truly happy. I know that I need to see my friends several times a week and it makes me happy. I know that I need time to think and read a little. As a family we know we need to have balanced activities and look after ourselves.
We must always have a lot of respect for the people around us and make sure we continually strive to live a good life. We will keep trying to do better even if we do wander from time to time (the Armagnac here is great and I do enjoy a glass of red wine frequently)
“We start off with high hopes, then we bottle it. We realize that we’re all going to die, without really finding out the big answers. We develop all those long-winded ideas which just interpret the reality of our lives in different ways, without really extending our body of worthwhile knowledge, about the big things, the real things. Basically, we live a short disappointing life; and then we die. We fill up our lives with shite, things like careers and relationships to delude ourselves that it isn’t all totally pointless.”
― Irvine Welsh,

How much stuff and the right stuff

Frugality can be misunderstood and has rather negative connotations to many people. Frugality is really living within your means and making the right choices in its use for the happiness of yourself and the people around you. Example
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
― Epicurus

Having very little but being rich in time is wonderful gift. It is freedom, freedom from debt, freedom to do as you please, and freedom to please those you love.
Having a middle class lifestyle whilst lots of free time can offer other benefits as some increased material benefits such as larger living spaces and increased mobility.
We have noticed we are now cooking and serving smaller portions of food than we used to when we lived in London. Was it comfort eating then? Now there is less waste (and less waist!). Our kids had been given too much stuff (toys sweets etc) - now they are learning to give the toys they don't play with anymore to good causes. We are prone to purchasing non seasonal products and using a bit too much heating on occasions.  
We need to give more of our time to others and make sure what time we do have is used wisely instead of wastefully. 
For example it is all to easy to catch a break from the kids by putting on a film. Now we have relaised that we just need to put the effort in to get them started on an activity (drawaing colouring painting jigsaw, lego, playmobil..) and they will carry on on their own. This is much better for them to learn something new through real play than pure entertainment. It has been amazing to see how inventive they can be with stuff lying around the house and garden. Our eldest makes robots or necklaces with sticks and eaves and the youngest still loves mud pies (mummy, less so).
Being rich on the other hand requires a responsibility to use the wealth wisely.

Happy time

In all three of the above examples free time is available and in the middle class and rich class some "spare money" is available. So what is a good use of this time in the happiness stakes?
Perhaps the answer to this (which is purely a personal preference) again revolves around balance. Spending too much time seeking shallow entertainment distracts from gaining wisdom. Seeking happiness too much can result in unhappiness when it is not found.
It is nice to receive but better to give. Doing something new is stimulating and ultimately rewarding - you achieve something new. We had to unblock our sewerage system the other day - not a nice job but we did it ourselves. And felt so proud that we sorted the problem without having to call on any plumber and could look after our family ourselves.
It has been proven that wealth helps towards human happiness probably because it gives you your time back to do what you want to do. After a certain point more wealth has a substantially diminishing return on happiness. At least put it to work in a constructive way.
For example move money out of funds that invest in all sorts of destructive industries. Instead invest locally or only in ethical companies that provide for real needs instead of wants. You won't get super rich but you will make a real difference and set an example. 
"It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly. And it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life." Epicurus
Shop locally, employ local people, help out, make a difference and be happy.
Until next time,
Peace, prosperity and happiness
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