If you woke up tomorrow with enough in the bank to comfortably withdraw a salary for the rest of your life, how would you spend your time? Can you articulate what your actual “dream” life would look like?
I spend too much of my time thinking about the purpose of life, how I want to use the finite number of hours I have, and recently, how to use money to fuse purpose and happiness. For a current example, I turned to my husband at the end of a date night last week, and apropos of nothing asked, “Do you know what the biggest tragedy of being human is?” He just laughed– it was impressive that I’d made it all the way back to our apartment without touching on the human condition. (For anyone wondering, that evening, I thought the fact that humans can conceptualize our own deaths was the greatest tragedy. Our greatest boon is the ability to feel love, but our cat can feel love and doesn’t spend her time evaluating whether she’s spending her time well enough. Catch me with a new answer next week.)
I focus too much on something I’ll never understand, and like everyone else, I’ve got pretty much nothing in answers to show for it. That’s a real problem when you’re trying to live your life in a way that maximizes your freedom, sense of purpose, and happiness.
When I started this blog, I said my objective was to live in a way that gives me possibilities, and right now, that is the number one goal. I can’t shake the nagging question, though: what will I do with freedom when I get it? And, what can I do, where I am now, that makes me more free?
I once read a definition of happiness that said we can only experience happiness in reflection. Happiness is the timeless feeling of complete engrossment in a task or a person. I believe it.
After writing lists and lists of things that make me happiest, I’ve seen two patterns emerge; I need joy, and I need satisfaction. Things that cause me joy are effortless–spending time with my husband and our pets, reading fluffy novels, traveling and living in the moment of a new situation and new thought patterns, laughing with friends. Satisfaction, which is almost more interesting, comes from tackling things that are difficult and working through them–writing and managing to distill the idea I’m searching for, planning the trip that will let me lose myself in the moment without losing my nest egg in the process, learning a new skill, solving a tough problem, doing something physical that makes me sweat.
If you couldn’t tell from the constant existential crises, I’m a tightly wound person, and pushing myself can sometimes be easier for me than letting myself bathe in joy. I know that in my best life, though, I would balance and embrace both.
Joy and satisfaction. No matter what else comes up in this journey, I know those are what I’m working for when I dream of financial independence.
What are you working towards?
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