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To want to be content with 'less'

(35 Posts)
PaisleyPrint Tue 14-Jan-14 14:31:49

I don't make much money, and sometimes I get so insecure around friends and slightly ashamed that I haven't 'succeeded' the way they have.

How do I cultivate contentedness with what I have instead of this rumbling sense of unhappiness and low-level bitterness?

(I know the 'less' I'm talking about is not even a real 'less' seeing as I'm typing this from my laptop in my warm, safe house)

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 14-Jan-14 14:33:24

Do some volunteering. I was very glad of what I had after 12 hours in a homeless shelter. You also realise that you have more to offer than your stuff. You time is infinitely more valuable.

LaurieFairyCake Tue 14-Jan-14 14:35:16

Distraction is one way. Deliberately learn to do something cheap, very well. And do it a lot.

I do crafts , gardening, making shit shabby.

This distracts me from the fact I can't afford 1000 pound handbags.

Mindfulness is another way. Encourage yourself to stay entirely in the moment. Do that a lot and who you are and where you are right now becomes the present without you projecting into wanting to be elsewhere.

fluffyraggies Tue 14-Jan-14 14:41:13

I was going to say volunteering too.

DH and i are sometimes cold stoney broke. But we aren't in debt, and manage to pay for the roof over our heads by the skin of our teeth.

It took a personal tragedy for DH and i a couple of years ago to put money into perspective for me/us. I had lived a lucky and relatively untroubled life until then, and not having as much money as my friends might have bothered me. But now - although bills not getting paid on time is still uncomfortable, it's nothing to what Dh and i went through a while ago.

Obviously you wouldn't want to engineer a personal tragedy for yourself ! - so perhaps put yourself in a position to help the very unfortunate for a while.

PaisleyPrint Tue 14-Jan-14 14:41:38

LaurieFairyCake Haha! £1000 handbags shock that is something that's not even in the realm of reality for me.

MrsTerryPratchett I volunteer at a museum on the weekends and at a children's literacy charity, but maybe I need to do something with actual poverty? That feels a bit wrong though, only doing something so I can feel better about my station in life.

CailinDana Tue 14-Jan-14 14:42:59

Identify where your shame comes from. Did your parents value "success" highly?

Spottybra Tue 14-Jan-14 14:44:20

Be thankful for what you do have, and focus on that. You're not chasing a dream lifestyle on credit, you have a home, people who love you, warmth and food.

If you need reminding then volunteer.

Spottybra Tue 14-Jan-14 14:46:00

Sorry, just read that you do volunteer.

bebbeau Tue 14-Jan-14 14:46:23


no matter what i have, its not enough, i always want more

i compare upwards, thats the problem...... sigh

CuntyBunty Tue 14-Jan-14 14:47:36

Confidence helps too. To just be able to say, "oh well, I don't have the money for that".
Do your friends have "stuff" that you really want, or do you think you should be able to own stuff like theirs because its normal in your circle?
One of my friends works in banking, while DH and I are "only" successful in the public sector. She is getting a Mulberry handbag, which I hope she really enjoys, but I don't want one. They aren't my thing and I am not sure I'd spend the money on one if I did have it. I feel happy that I can afford good, leather, non-branded bags.

Remember what you have and like and it won't be the same as your friends. It's all just stuff and potential landfill/recycling/ bound for the charity shop anyway.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 14-Jan-14 15:00:23

Try this. It's an eye opener.

PaisleyPrint Tue 14-Jan-14 15:08:18

CailinDana Yes, my parents value material ''success'' highly. Especially coming from my culture, where most of my family and extended family are in one of these three professions: law, medicine or finance

At university I studied an arts subject that I loved and still love, my parents still haven't recovered from disappointment (I'm now 27)

CuntyBunty It's not a particular aspect that I want, more the ease with which they make financial decisions, when they see something they like they just buy it, no thought needed. I on the other hand have to compare, search ebay, wait a month to see if I really want it, factor it into budget and then I don't end up buying it anyway!

CerealMom Tue 14-Jan-14 15:09:23

You're being too hard on yourself.

You sound lovely and compassionate - why else would you volunteer?

Stuff is just stuff - more to dust.

Unless you're hankering after one of these... Just why?

PaisleyPrint Tue 14-Jan-14 15:11:41

MrsTerryPratchett Exactly what I needed to see, thank you. I really need to keep perspective, I am incredibly fortunate in a lot of ways.

frugalfuzzpig Tue 14-Jan-14 15:18:28

YANBU. And I totally think you can do this smile

If you're a parent or hope to be someday, I really recommend the book simplicity parenting - I read it after seeing it mentioned on MN, it's really made me think about what I want family life to be, and we've made some changes so we are getting closer to that.

There's also a great ongoing thread on good housekeeping - 'moving forward with minimalism' - the main focus is decluttering but it's a whole mindset too, it's really not the white walls and empty room thing that I expected. It is exactly what your thread title says. smile

I have similar issues with my parents being mad on success BTW, I never finished a degree because I had DCs and then became disabled, but my parents are still disappointed (I'm also 27) - hurts doesn't it. But their priorities need not be ours smile

manicinsomniac Tue 14-Jan-14 15:22:09

Wow MrsTerryPratchett that link is insane! I entered my income and it told me top 0.25% of the world. So I thought I'd made a mistake (as I consider myself to be averagely comfortable) and tried out what I consider to be a subsistence salary - top 3.23% of the world.

Seriously eye opening. Thanks for the food for thought.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 14-Jan-14 15:32:56

Especially when you consider that most of the world has no safety net and little free healthcare. Lucky doesn't cover what we are here.

PaisleyPrint Tue 14-Jan-14 15:34:43

frugalfuzzpig I don't have children, but I would like to someday.

but their priorities need not be ours Yes, it hurts being a disappointment to parents, I wish they would be proud of me, but unless I have all the indicators of material success they won't be.

Cherrypi Tue 14-Jan-14 15:48:50

Avoid adverts and glossy magazines.

Stellaface Tue 14-Jan-14 15:54:58

Remember, buying expensive handbags doesn't mean they are happy, or make them happy. It just means they are disposing of cash on stuff they probably don't need. You could do that too but would it make you happier? You'd probably find it just makes your house messier.

Re parents, that is hard. Can you have a conversation along lines of 'would you rather I was rich, or happy? One or the other, both is not an option'. Make the point that you can be happy enough not being rich and maybe they'll stop measuring their pride in you by your bank balance/unnecessary purchases.

frugalfuzzpig Tue 14-Jan-14 15:58:27

Yes agree with not looking at magazines. I am also much more content without seeing commercial telly (we have a tv but generally only use it for DVDs) - it's made a particularly big difference to the DCs as they aren't seeing tat advertised every ten minutes (I know I can't hold off forever though as peer pressure will kick in more)

clarequilty Tue 14-Jan-14 16:04:16

I had a rare attack of this yesterday and it made me think hard.

Having been to Oxford I have my share of film stars/royalty/aristo acquaintances along with the usual bunch of bankers and lawyers. Of course, as a non-rich person by birth I never expected to achieve their seeming easy success.

I think the lowest point was when I was temping years ago a few weeks after the suicide of my father and saw four - yes FOUR - film posters featuring people I knew, including my former tutorial partner.

Then turned up to my new temping assignment to find I was working directly for someone who I knew from uni. Ouch!

Anyway, husband (also ex Oxford) has a zen approach, which helps.

I have two wonderful daughters, a husband who loves me, a mother I love and get on with, a career I enjoy that I can do part time, I own my own home, have worked abroad, I'm healthy etc etc

And it's all relative.

At the end of the day relationships are what matter and those actors/tall poppies I know are driven mental with narcissism and riven with insecurities or else focused on material signifiers and exogenous approval. That's no way to live or teach your children how to live.

Adeleh Tue 14-Jan-14 16:06:22

A while ago I was on a much better income than I am now, but our quality of life is so much richer now. One of the things I did notice was that whenever I wanted a new book, say, I would just buy it. Christmas was so much less fun. I think I do value things more now through having to save and wait for them. And I minded Christmas being a bit flatter when we had more money.

clarequilty Tue 14-Jan-14 16:12:17

I deactivated my facebook account about 6 years ago (only set up a page to pretty much leave straight away) but if for any reason I've logged on again (have had to twice in those years to do with a favour for my mum) I've had these attacks.

MotherOfChickens Tue 14-Jan-14 16:19:03

Have you thought about keeping a gratitude journal? The act of writing down just three things a day that you are grateful for can help cultivate a feeling of being contented. Try here for some good starting points.

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