The Expatriated Consumer

Imagining life without debt. Working to make it reality.

It’s all about ME!!!

Posted by Maxwell Finklewicz on September 9, 2008

Yep. It is. It is all about me. Everything around me. Everything I do. It’s all about me.
I’ve come to realize that either I’m on a self-centered ego trip, or I’ve become enlightened to a very important aspect of living an enjoyable life.


I’ve been involved in a lot of introspection lately regarding my own personal happiness. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it all starts with me. I spent much of the last few months hating my job, being frustrated at home, being upset about my personal finances, and generally not really liking my lot in life. And it showed. I realize now that I was pretty miserable to be around. Fortunately, I’ve had an incredible turnaround lately in how I feel about just about everything, from my job to my family life.

We all think we know what actually makes us happy. It always seems to be something that is just a little out of reach. Whether it’s financial, relationships, or work, we become unhappy because we can’t reach our goals. What does it take? Money? Time? Other resources? What is the magic bullet that’s going to help you realize your goals? Now what can you do about it? Take each item and break it down, list just one thing you can do to make a difference for you.

Your work. Find yourself sucked into the latest griping session at the water cooler? I do constantly. Someone always has a legitimate gripe about something. Listen to them long enough and you realize that you have legitimate gripes, too. Then everyone is griping. I try to catch myself when I start, and try to look at issues from another perspective. Am I really upset about this issue, or did I get caught up in the pack mentality?
The favorite target of course is our manager. “She’s doesn’t know what happens here in the trenches, her open door policy is a joke, she puts all these ridiculous demands on us, blah, blah, blah.” I admit, I’ve been known to hop on the soapbox myself in the past. Then I thought about it. Middle management? I wouldn’t want that job; you just can’t please anybody. The folks under you are always unhappy, the folks over you are always unhappy. You lose no matter what you try to do. It’s her job to institute stupid policies that make more work for us. New policies always to seem to be cropping up at work. I work in healthcare, and policies are in place for a reason, in particular, those regarding client safety. If a new policy was instituted because people aren’t doing a particular aspect of their job correctly, and it’s having a negative effect on the company, what could we have to done to make the situation better? I realized it starts with me.

Your children. There are certainly days when I feel like my kids are going to be my undoing. They don’t like this, they want that, they’re being complete PITAs. What’s the solution? Send ’em to their room? Turn the television on? Whatever, just get them out of your hair, right? Then you don’t have to deal with the hassle. Or, are they acting out for a reason? Perhaps they’re tired of television, or maybe they just need you.
Instead of blowing your stack, try to find joy in every interaction with your children. Trust me, I know it’s not easy. But kids are keen little beings, and can tell when mom or dad’s frustrated. I’m not even close to perfecting this one, but I try every day. I hate changing dirty diapers, and I gripe to my daughter every time I have to change one. But, I laugh with her every time I have to change one, as well. “Pee-yoo!!! Yuck!!! You stink! You need to learn to go on the potty!” I declare loudly in funny voices each time I have to change her. She lays still for me, singing out “Pee-yoo,” while she giggles with me.
Finding joy in all things parenting is arguably the greatest gift you can give your children, because it reinforces your unconditional love for them. Love them unconditionally, and they will know it, and carry it with them no matter where they go in life. I realized that the way my children’s act starts with me.

Your marriage. For some time most of my communications with my wife consisted of bickering. I was becoming unhappy at home, because everything was a struggle. Then I decided to actually listen to my wife. What did she want? Really all she wanted was me. For me to talk with her, to spend time with her, to snuggle and give her a foot rub.
We get so caught up in ourselves, and what we want, we tend to forget what our spouses want. First and foremost, your spouse wants to be loved. Show her that you love her. Forget about what you want for now, and really show her that you love her. Don’t run off and buy her a trinket, give her a kiss and head to the links. Spend time with her. Just her. Can’t get your head into it? Remember the reasons why you got married. Build from there. Get past your hangups, because they are, after all, your hangups. Love her for who she is, not what you wish she was.
Is something truly intolerable in your marriage? Communicate. Don’t blame. That bears repeating. Don’t blame. Blaming someone simply causes them to put their fightin’ gloves on, and poise themselves to defend at all costs. If you’re going to blame, blame yourself. If you take time to show your spouse that you are not perfect either, she may be more willing to listen to you when you have honest concerns at home. Then discuss the issue of concern rationally. I realized that when I wasn’t happy with my wife’s behavior, I had to stop and look at my own behavior first.

Your finances. You’ve read it a thousand times before. The latte factor. Too much house. Big car payment. All those reasons are of your own making. What can you do today to be happy with your financial state? Go ahead and make excuses for why you can’t do anything about your money situation. See how well your situation improves. Take responsibility, make the changes needed to spend less than you earn, and watch the balances swing to your favor. Follow the advice in some of those personal finance books you’ve read. Act on it. I realized that it’s not the Man holding me down, but me.

Accept responsibility for yourself. Your actions. Your feelings. Your choices. If you choose to be unhappy, then you sure will be. If you make the choice to be happy, and stop blaming everything around you for your unhappiness, you can roll yourself out of the doldrums, and start enjoying life. Find joy in everything you do. Even when what you really want to do is smash that rotten computer at work, smile and know that there is a purpose to what you are doing.


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