My trip down the FI path has taught me a lot about happiness. I find a lot of happiness walking in my garden. I can also find a lot of frustration ( looking at you hungry caterpillar). I run almost every day, that brings me a lot of happiness. I do yoga and finish with a smile.
I have spend money on things that made me happy. I have the occasional dinner out with friends. And sure, the food was good. Ask me in two weeks what I ate. The “..with friends” part is what brought me the true happiness. I’ve purchased cars which made me happy. But , after many miles down the road, the car was just a means to get from point A to point B. The real happiness was the journey, and even that ( hello rushhour) can have its frustrations. I have a fancy mountain bike. But the bike itself provides me no more happiness than my first cheap bike a got in my teens. The ride itself is what brings me joy, the bike merely facilities the means to do so. The money spent on the bike might provide a better ride, but the joy can still be attained with a $10 goodwill purchase.
Living frugally might sound like a life of restraint and frustration. And it can be that way if you think of “absence” as the denial of happiness. Living frugally doesn’t have to be about denying happiness, rather it should be an examination as to why we attribute happiness to “things”. I now reflect on “wants” and ask myself if I’ve concocted desire around the potential for happiness. In this way, self-reflection and mindfulness are the default before purchasing decisions are made. And if I feel a sense of denial, I reflect on my day and ask, “did I experience any happiness?”
The answer is invariably “yes”. With the implementation of mindfulness, I can pragmatically evaluate the motivations behind purchasing decisions or the lack thereof. Frugality isn’t a destination, it’s the journey of living a life where money isn’t the path to happiness.