Remember that movie with Will Smith in it: The Pursuit of Happyness? Many of us can relate with the feeling the character had in being jobless and penniless. The sense of powerlessness can be totally depressing and energy-sucking. On the other hand, people who have no money shortage tend to be sociable, confident and level-headed, as opposed to commonly lonely, diffident and irritable “poor” souls. This holds true in many cases that we know, if not from personal experience, at least from our close relations.
The National Foundation for Credit Counselling in the US did a survey which showed that almost 80% of people claim they lose sleep from money problems over other issues such as their marriages, kids or job security. It seems, therefore, that those many sleepless people in our midst comprise a big bulk of unhappy families.
In general, we agree that genuine happiness does not come from our material possessions but in the intangible things that truly matter in life. However, being able to handle money wisely can add much to the level of contentment and confidence that people have in life.
Understanding the principles that govern the dynamics of money would greatly enhance our capacity to maintain a meaningful and comfortable life. But handling money requires knowing several powerful tips you can learn to develop, namely:
Unlearn bad habits through the power of self-forgiveness. Habits have a great influence on how we control money. Our early home-and-school training somehow predetermined our ability to make money work for us. Many keep falling into the financial trap of overspending or borrowing to purchase lavish stuff because we learned it from someone close to us or someone we know in the past. Once it becomes a hardened habit, we will find it hard to escape the vicious cycle.
What to do then? Forgiving yourself for your failures is the way suggested toward reversing this trend in your life. It is the proper way of dealing with the guilt that emanates from the bad habit. Sacrificing instead of always looking for the easy way out can break that cycle of emotional and financial slavery to your weaknesses.
Know how you behave with respect to money. Our early years, especially our formal education, molded the way we think and act in relation to other people and material things. Even the kind of music we listen to, sing or download online is controlled by the upbringing we had as well as the environment we lived or live in.
Getting to know how you handle money will help you understand yourself more. With a clearer appreciation of how money affects you, you can learn to control you tendencies in order to benefit you financially. Perhaps, some of your habits or patterns of spending and borrowing can be traced to past experiences which were stressful. Knowing that you now have enough experience to control your emotions, you can then adjust and create a better way of handling money so that you do not end up in the same rut as before.
Knowing yourself, as the wise Marcus Aurelius said, is the key to defeating the worst enemy you have, which is often no one else but yourself. “Conquering yourself” should be the better motto to keep from now on.
Seek professional help if nothing else works. A financial counsellor has the experience and ability to help you understand how your financial habits are influenced by your emotional conditions. Possessing positive money habits can be developed as we can see in some cultural environments which engender respect for and skill in handling money beginning in childhood.
Yet, the best way to develop good money habits is learning from those who have the experience of creating wealth – the business-people. They are the ones who spend their whole life making money and making it grow to benefit not just themselves but others. Perhaps, for most people, bad money habits may have come about not just from lack of discipline but lack of appreciation as to what money can do for themselves and to others. Spending money unwisely may have come about because it was earned without effort early in life. Going into business and “making hard money” may be the only way for many of us to finally appreciate the real value of money – not its worth but what is can do to better people’s lives.
The feeling of being debt-free can be truly liberating. But it comes with seriously considering the above steps toward setting yourself free of the negative and unproductive thoughts and attitudes we have with respect to money. In the end, happiness does not depend on having so much money; neither are your troubles due to the lack of money. We make ourselves happy by how we deal with what we have and what we do not have.