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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)

PollyPutTheKettle Tue 14-Jan-14 23:09:19

Yanbu. I have been giving this a lot of thought lately. We are
Lucky, Dh and I are relatively well off but it I so easy to be drawn into believing it's not enough I am always looking upwards which is terrible. Worst of all our kids are materialistic and 8 and 6. They simply have too much. Toys, bikes, daytrips, TV, classes for this and that. Dh and I want to stop all this. We have started by cancelling the cable TV kids channels. All activities will be free from now on and no meals out. I want to instill that sense of appreciation we had by having bugger all.

PaisleyPrint Tue 14-Jan-14 18:04:16

Tabliope I really want to be like that, in fact it is my 'thing' for 2014 - detach myself from excessive materialism,

so far the steps I have taken or will take are

1.) Reduce TV watching & completely stop magazines
2.) Begin volunteering with disadvantaged people/at a homeless shelter
3.) Work hard on self-acceptance
4.) Keep a gratitude journal

Tabliope Tue 14-Jan-14 17:14:02

Somehow through my 30s and 40s I've pretty much completely detached myself from material things. It basically started after I had my DS. I wasn't working and mixing with young, single people any more, spending money on clothes and stuff. I'd already ditched the magazines which I recognised fed the desire for stuff. A couple of tough years where necessity made me very frugal helped, so I was out the habit of shopping. Maybe age has contributed too but what I value is no longer material.

I only go shopping when I need something - it's worn out or broken (apart from for my DS). I think that helps as you're not seeing things and craving them. I was in town earlier to buy a music book for my DS. For convenience I parked in John Lewis's carpark. Had a shock at the cost of it - £4 for up to 3 hours. Bought the book then thought it's the first time in town for a while I'll have a look around. I spent 20 minutes looking round and thought there's nothing I actually want. I don't like clutter. I don't want possessions. I value experiences more than possessions. It's very freeing not to crave anything material anymore.

CailinDana Tue 14-Jan-14 17:06:42

It sounds like you are going through what a lot of people go through in their late 20s/early 30s - realising you don't and possibly never will met the expectations your parents/society had for you. You can berate yourself, feel inadequate and disapponted or you can accept yourself for how you are and be happy with it. The hard thing is accepting that your parents don't approve of you but really that doesn't matter, their disappointment is their problem not yours. You are your own person and you don't exist to fulfil their dreams.

You don't have to be content with "less" because you are not "less" just different.

CynicalandSmug Tue 14-Jan-14 16:52:42

I look at this way, I have had a great education, have lots of amazing people in my life, I'm fit and healthy, and I do not have to depend on a man for money or company. So I'm not rich, so what? I have me, and I really like me.

Ragwort Tue 14-Jan-14 16:41:16

Bebbeau - I am also in the top 0.25% blush - I always compare myself downwards so I always feel incredibly blessed with my lot in life - trouble is I am married to someone who always compares himself upwards - & he does have a few incredibly wealthy acquaintances which in my opinion gives him such a skewed view of life.

I do quite a bit of voluntary work, at the moment I am helping someone who is literally homeless. He told me a wonderful story today - someone approached him this morning (he was asleep) and left him a full breakfast - cereal & milk, a bacon sandwich and a flask of coffee. No note, no expectation of thanks. It is stories like this that make you realise what is important in life. smile.

BrickorCleat Tue 14-Jan-14 16:36:09

clarequilty I absolutely agree, and how clever of you to say so.

Similarly, looking at art and stars reminds us how small we really are and how insignificant in both time and space.*

Ignore your parents, OP. that's their bourgeois issue, don't make it yours.

*<checks cake tin to ascertain I haven't just necked two hash brownies. Man.>

Gladvent Tue 14-Jan-14 16:34:49

Pinterest is a million times better than magazines. Lots of ideas and 'ooh that's nice' but without the stupid £50 lipstick adverts.

If you were my friend or child I would be very proud (and prob a teeny bit jealous tbh) that you have a thing that you love, are qualified it, and you are making a living from it. Not many people have that.

bebbeau Tue 14-Jan-14 16:30:38

OMG mrstp that link is truly eye opening

i am in the top 0.25% by income as well, who'd have thought it

so why can't i buy a house or have more holidays grin

clarequilty Tue 14-Jan-14 16:24:14

Another helpful thing to innoculate oneself from the culture of narcissism is reading literature from, say, the 19th century. Something that has stood the test of time.

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.

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.

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 16:04:16

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.

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)

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.

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

Avoid adverts and glossy magazines.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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 15:08:18

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!

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

Try this. It's an eye opener.

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