Mindfulness is a Useful Thing


The right state of mind is something that must be cultivated. It’s not something we’re just born with or not. There is “mind training,” if you will. It’s kind of like becoming a Jedi Knight, only cooler because it actually exists. You can choose your perspective on every situation in life and you can choose to have a positive look at right now.

You can enjoy where you are now, knowing you’ll never be here again. Some time in the future when you’re wealthy, you can look back and say ‘Ha! That was a funny time.” Now is when you’re on the path to learning about yourself and learning about managing your money. You’ll never be exactly here again, because with every tidbit you learn, you’re changing. That’s the essence of how to enjoy this journey.

Mindfulness is a useful thing. This is especially true when first starting to follow a budget with goals for various spending categories because once you’re aware of the thoughts and feelings you’re having, you can more easily make objective decisions about what brings you happiness. When I’m about to make a purchase, let’s say I want to order-in for dinner or upgrade my super-slow sometimes randomly-rebooting smart phone, I always think “Hm, do I really need that?” Of course the answer’s no, but do I really WANT it? I guess so, but why do I want it? Generally here the answer is “because it would be fun” or “because it would be easier.” “Why would that be fun?” “For how long would it be fun?” “Is that the most fun thing I could do with this money?” At this point if my wife is with me she might inquire about why I’m hesitating and say “Are you sure you want … (that thing)?” Of course I don’t want that thing! It’s way more fun for so many reasons to have extra money than to not.

There are other ways to do this type of reflection and have greater awareness. For example, what’s described above follows a kind of “why do I want it” perspective, and there are also the “why do I feel this way” and the “oh, I wonder where that thought came from” perspectives.

Often our purchases are a result of our reactional non-reflective child-mind coming through, saying “Ooohhh pretty! I want it! I want it!”  With a little distraction in the form of reflection on the self and the situation, the impulse buys can be avoided.

Mindfulness is a useful thing. This is especially true when we’re about to make a purchase that we don’t really need. We can reflect on how we’re feeling at the moment, the emotions that are passing by, noticing them and saying “Oh, well that’s a feeling. I wonder what the next one will be. I wonder what other feelings are in there at this very moment.” What type of feeling am I trying to achieve or alleviate by buying this thing? For how long do I want that new feeling to last? How long will the feeling actually last if I follow through on the purchase? And of course: Is buying this the best way to accomplish the feelings I’m looking for?

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Mindfulness is a useful thing. This is especially true when we suddenly have the thought that buying a new thing would make us happier. Taking the time to reflect on what truly makes us happy in life never, ever results in us saying “I’m so happy I have the latest iPhone!” Never. Personally, I appreciate things in life like friends, family, security, health, and happy memories. Those are what give me joy and feelings of love. All of these are worth more than money to me. It’s easy to see if you feel this way about something – which one of them would you give up for a million dollars? Little else is important when these essential needs aren’t met. Other things are just fluff. They’re “making pretty” and “playing nice.” What’s important in your life?

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