1.06.2011

sayulita
I hadn't thought much at all about a new years resolution (still trying to figure out how a new list can fit into my life when, in about 3.5 months my life is going to be so different!) until one just fell into my head.

Remember what is important in life.

Okay, so that is huge and vague, but I can break it down. And truthfully it didn't just pop in there, it has been simmering for a while.

I started thinking about it way earlier in the year after hearing a discussion with one of the authors of The How of Happiness on KPBS. (Sorry, I can't find a link to it.) The ideas discussed really stuck with me: research has proven that once you make enough money to support your basic needs, money won't make you happy. The biggest day to day control you have is how you spend your time, and your outlook on life.

More recently I came back to some of this thinking after Lisa introduced me to Penelope Trunk, who writes about careers and money and sex and aspergers and all sorts of interesting things.

She sums it up well: "In fact, the rule is well established in research: The first 40 thousand makes a big difference in one’s level of happiness. Happiness is dependent on being able to meet basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing. After meeting those needs you need to turn to something other than consumerism. Because additional money has negligible impact on how happy you are. Your level of happiness is largely dependent on your outlook."

I gobbled up her posts on taming materialism, and choosing a simpler (financial) lifestyle. It gave me resolve: don't spend one of the most valuable resources to my happiness (my free time) on things that won't make me happy (shopping for stuff, duh). Don't get into financial obligations (car payments, too high mortgages, credit debt) that will limit us in the future into jobs we don't love, but need to keep to pay the bills.

http://www.scoutandcatalogue.com/

The real inspiration hit when I read the year in review posts by Bre of Scout & Catalogue, and delved into her archives that documented her decision to leave her secure and responsible job and move with a car full of possessions to Mexico. (Where her amazing product line was born.)

http://www.scoutandcatalogue.com/

No, I'm not about to pack up our bags and move everyone to Mexico, but I'd like to think that if we really wanted to, we could. So this year I want to take some of these principles on living a more simple life and really exercise them. I think a lot of it will come down to stuff, and not being so obsessed with it. (Which by the way, really makes Scout & Catalogue the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, because I have not resolved with myself the idea of not buying this bag.)

This all has to do, I think, with living a simpler life. Not obsessing over stuff, and realizing we have enough. I will let you know how it goes.

http://www.scoutandcatalogue.com/

all images via scout & catalogue flickr

22 comments:

  1. wonderful post and necessary reminder.

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  2. So smart. As I was setting a new budget for the new year, I realized that I'm totally fine with spending my extra money on things like yoga classes and happy hours and meals out. I think those actually contribute to my happiness. I don't think that most of my stuff purchases contribute much at all, beyond making sure I have some basics that I use a lot.

    So, this year will be more doing and less stuff. Also, I think I need to start paying for regular haircuts, which pains my cheap soul.

    Oh, and still trying to decide where premium cable falls, because I really want to find a way to justify keeping it.

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  3. I hear that. I've been reading Happy for No Reason, which has been really eye opening for me. I've found the money thing to be completely true in my life. As long as your not stressed out about your basic needs more is just that more. I also find that my reactions to situations has a huge impact on my over all happiness. If I approach people and circumstances from a place of love and understanding I'm never disappointed.

    It's funny how ideas (themes) start rising to the surface at the same time.

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  4. this is one of my favorite posts of yours, maybe ever. i too have read lots about scout & catalogue the lady is kind of a hero. i met her at a craft fair (and of course had to have one of her cushions). thanks for this post. it was kind of just what i needed.

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  5. An awesome and inspiring post. thank you.

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  6. ah yes. what is, undoubtedly, a constant reminder in our household right now. kudos.

    I was just reading Penelope's post on choosing Madison over NYC and laughed when her list included Austin. BINGO. Our decision as well.

    And you know what? Instead of a combined income of A LOT in NYC, we're much happier, healthier here in Austin -- on far, far, far less. I've learned how little I can live on and don't worry nearly as much about how we're going to make due here in ATX. So many people do it here on very little. It's a good lesson when coming from the land of 100k+ in NYC.

    I was about to email you, actually, about your post a while back on 'playing the housing game' in various cities and make a play for Austin. It's awesome here. (Although still not in the '200k will buy you a cute little bungalow in the center of town') Anyhow. I think everyone needs to readdress their priorities and realize what's important, especially after this whole recession business.

    And Rachel: we don't have cable tv (and get barely any channels through the regular wall switch) but don't really miss it. Netflix, kids. Or hulu. Bam, done and done.

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  7. i've been thinking exactly the same thing. i want to do better things with my money, not just consume because it's true, it really doesn't make you happy.

    having been away for awhile, i really started to understand that but then i got back to the city and it started creeping in again, telling myself that i 'needed' something when of course i didn't. definitely something to work on in 2011.

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  8. Inspiring for sure, looking forward to sifting thru links. Thank you for sharing all of this.

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  9. @Rachel I'm trying to simplify too, but I REALLY DON'T WANT TO GIVE UP CABLE. I'm in the biz, so I NEED to watch TV, right??

    Also: Haircuts are so worth it. But you know that already.

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  10. this is awesome and i might just follow this since i will soon come to a crossroads regarding my job and schooling, which happens to coincide with paying off my truck. loved this. thanks for the resources.

    speaking of bags, thank goodness my husband got me one for christmas (i needed one badly) and it reminded me of you: http://www.luckybrand.com/Bella-Leather-Tote/LBA00849,default,pd.html?cgid=womensBags&selectedColor=269 I LOVE IT!!!

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  11. As I sit in bed, early morning after a 2 month trip across the globe, slightly stressing about the year upon me, 'oh lordy lord' what next. I read your post. THANKYOU. Just the breakfast I needed!

    Cheers to you A desert fete ... huzzah to 2011!
    x

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  12. Yes!

    I have been trying to gather my own thoughts about personal values and the values of things and how to come to a positive place where I can really feel good about being financially responsible. Saying "I'm going on a budget" just sounds so depressing, and negative. It only points out what you will not have and not what you can gain by doing. Thank you for changing the perspective and for putting into words what my brain has been trying to figure out for the last few weeks...

    xo

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  13. thank you for this post AND for introducing me to bre's blog. it's so beautiful and so inspirational. i dream about quitting my god awful corporate job every single day to be a photographer... however, after 18 of the longest months of our lives, my husband finally found a job in august. the thought of just scraping by again makes me want to cry. so on the one hand, i want to believe that following my bliss will make me happy. but on the other hand, stressing out about money while trying to follow my bliss scares the shit out of me.

    i guess you have to take the leap sometime though. when will i not be shitting my pants though?!

    thanks for this jamie :)

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  14. Oh man, this post is so spot on! I keep thinking these thoughts, but I love the way you worked out the equation and reinterpreted the more vague message of doing what matters to you. If your precious time is spent doing something that puts you in proverbial shackles of debt, and then you're forced to spend the rest of your time working that off... it's a vicious cycle!

    This was a good reminder to spend my time doing things I really love this weekend (and always!).

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  15. i totally agree with this theory - i feel like i make the perfect range of money that is enough for me to live on and still be able to save and spend money wisely and not need to worry. i could never get my ex to see this viewpoint, he was obsessed with making more money and living a baller lifestyle despite being overworked, so now that i dont spend money mindlessly on things with him anymore, my life right now is focusing on doing the things that make me happy and spending more on going to shows etc.

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  16. here here!

    i would love to just print this out in some large font and tape it in an obvious place as a constant reminder.

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  17. great post. i knew scout and catalogue was inspired by bohemian, mexican vibes but i didn't know she had packed up her life and moved there. the options and potential for people's lives are so much bigger than we ever think is possible. but it's all possible- we just need to start believing.

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  18. Completely agree size to small! It is possible! I know a few people that live in Mexico and Costa Rica that live like this. The work they do is solely for food and basics.They save and take off for months at a time. Traveling, surfing, sucking in new things constantly. I'm on the fence about this lifestyle with kids though. Could go either way. Great docu on this subject - SurfWise. Hope your doing great Mama-to-be!

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  19. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Thank you for turning me on to Penelope Trunk! I'd never heard of her and just went to her blog which is very frank and funny and right on. Not to get all religious on you but....I read the bible a lot and there is a verse that says "keep your eye simple and your whole body will be bright". Tis true.

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  20. i love this...and have been thinking lots about it as well in this new year. my husband just graduated college, we're expecting a baby in august; and it's that perfect time to make these life decisions of how we'll live and who we'll be. I will keep all your words of wisdom in my mind as we embark on this great adventure called life! haha. thanks for sharing :-)

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  21. I love this. I'm working on spending less by buying better and this just makes that stronger.

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  22. this really problematizes my hoarding.

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