Be Happy

Childfree-dom

Let me begin by saying this post is entirely opinionated, however most points are fact. Whereas previous posts dealt with ways to improve your happiness, this simply provides a life choice in which more people seem to be making and experiencing the everlasting positive reverberation.

According to TIME magazines article “The Childfree Life” there has been a significant increase in couples who opt to live a childfree lifestyle. Back in the 1970s 1 in 10 couples were childfree, now that number has increased to 1 in 5. I believe people are beginning to adopt the notion that having children is a choice, not an obligation, and with that choice comes freedom that childbearers fail to experience.

Choosing to live a childfree lifestyle has become increasingly accepted in todays world. In the past women felt a duty to reproduce, but in todays already terminally overcrowded, resource depleted world they should be given praise (maybe even tax breaks) for being childless. Previously, it was seen as “selfish” to live your life making the choice not to have mini yous, but there is just as good of an argument for the opposition. Having children puts a burden on them when you become old and helpless, that is indeed quite selfish, and people consider this a positive attribute to having children. Here are the basic but life altering benefits to living a life without children.

Obviously, your financial situation you will be substantially better off. The cost of raising a child from 0-18 is approximately $250-300k, then you need to consider their further education, college can run an additional $35k for in-state and $125k private. Deeper financial security preceeds and contributes to a majority of the other benefits affixed to childfreedom. I’ve come across the term DINK; Dual Income, No Kids. When a child enters the world there are sacrafices that need to be made, most importantly the career of the woman in most cases; women chose to leave their careers in order to care for their children. So now, not only do you have the financial burden of a child, but as a couple you are now bringing in half the income. With a sound financial situation, you and your significant other will possess less worry and stress, not only because you do not need to worry about finances but because you are not constantly worrying about the health and well-being of an indivdual who soley relies on you for everything.

One of the more attractive benefits for myself is flexability. I embrace spontaneity. Without the never ending time consuming child (approximately 8 hours a day of your time to rasie two children to age 18) you are able to spend that extra saved income on vacations, weekend get-aways, gifts for others, pick up a new hobby, spend more time with family and friends, become a culturally diverse, worldly intellectual… you are able to experience life we have been given the privledge to do so. You are given the ability to make life decisions on what’s best for yourself, what is going to make you happiest, rather than making the decisions based on the unforeseen future of another individual. You won’t have to completely miss out on the more enjoyable aspects of having children because you can borrow others (siblings and friends will have kids). Do those parents a favor and babysit their children, you will get to enjoy the simpler aspects of being a parent, and when they start becoming a nusance… give them back. You get to bring the kids on adventures and buy them cool things being the awesome aunt and uncle you are, without dealing with their true issues, not a bad gig.

People are afraid of being considered a social misfit amoung their group of peers, but with more and more people (now 20%) opting this lifestyle, you are bound to find a childless group of friends to share your enthusiasm for life with. Some will say the advantages of being a parent are you’ll never be bored or you’ll have something to focus on other than yourself. If you know how to live you don’t need a child to fill your boredom, and there are endless opportunities to focus your time and efforts on other than a kid. Start a small business, organize charities/fundraisers, take language or art classes, try something you’ve feared, the list goes on.

An overlooked aspect of living a childfree lifestyle is you get to SLEEP-IN! Something that I value very much. Instead of having little rugrats jumping on your bed at 5am on your day off, sleep until you decide it’s time to start your day with whatever you feel like doing, it’s an awesome feeling.

Those who elect to live in childfreedom are not selfish, people are different, some have a primitive instinct to bear children and others don’t see themselves reaching their potential in both happiness and ability having the distraction of a child. It should be a decision that is quite clear to yourself and your partner; either you truely want to have children, or you are contemplating it. If your contemplating it, don’t!

We may not be able to prepare a better future for children, but we can introduce less to it.

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How I Am Happy

Risk vs. Reward

When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know you want?

Whether it is minute or life altering, it’s human nature to weigh the risks vs. rewards of the decisions we make. How many times in your life have you shrugged off a desire to do something you’d enjoy, something that would make you happy. You most likely thought to yourself and weighed the risks vs rewards “financially, this isn’t the best move to make right now” or “I can’t get the time off work.” Now, how many times have you thought of that time you made the decision not to go and seriously regret it? Last question to ask yourself, how well did you REALLY factor in the reward?

It is like a disease plaguing our minds that force our brains to place more importance and weight on the risks in these situations, why, I honestly haven’t a clue, but it makes me want to punch people in the neck who constantly view life through that lens. Stop believing your job is so awesome that you won’t leave it for a month to go explore a different country, culture, and extreme adventure. Something like 70% of Americans dislike their occupation, and that same 70% is probably internally unhappy with their lives. Why do we put ourselves through this, it makes no fucking sense. All it takes is one burst of will power to get out and stop weighing the risks vs. rewards and you will develop a new perspective on the way we’re suppose to live.

For myself, not obtaining a career job right out of college could probably end up being one of the best thing to happen to me in the past 10 years. There are thousands of young adults my age in that same situation, saying how could that be possible, you went to college for four years, got your degree, and now it’s time to get an entry-level job to pay off for your investment in education (well our parents investments). It is not the fact that I couldn’t get a job that made me happy about this situtation, it’s the fact that I used this time as an opportunity to, for really the first time in my life, make a life changing decision for myself and for reasons I wanted.

I was in a serious rut, working my same summer job, living at home, blowing all my money on partying 5 days a week, and inbetween working and partying I was applying for jobs that I honestly didn’t want. I looked at this situation and simply asked myself what have I wanted to do over the past 5 years that has been hindered by the decsions I thought I HAD to make to please others. With winter approaching I came to the conclusion I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains, they had everything I enjoyed and found happiness in (snowboarding, mountain biking, fishing, camping, music, laidback people, etc.)

I began weighing the risks of this decision with the rewards, and because I had never lived in the mountains before or had never even been to Colorado before I had no solid ground to base my rewards off of. My sole reward was doing what I wanted for once, taking the risk of leaving family and friends, taking the risk of not finding a job to pay rent, taking the risk of hating my living situation out there, taking the risk of running into traveling toubles by myself on a 32 hour drive (I’ve never perosnally driven more then 4-5 hours in one sitting), taking the risk of having to come back home after a couple months, taking the risk of failure. The rewards; the complete oppisite. So, I stopped going out 5 days a week, saved up no more than $1,500, found an apartment through Craigslist to share a bedroom with a kid I’ve never met, packed up my car and frove 32 hours to Vail, Colorado. I did not have a job when I arrive, but found one two weeks later paying a meesely $9.20/hr, but hey I was working outside enjoying the elements, so I didn’t mind. To make this long story short, I haven’t regretted this decision for a second, and what was a dismal time for me ended up fostering the best decision I’ve made in a long time. I have been living here for 7 months, I snowboarded over 60 days in the period between January and April, I now mountain bike at least 4 days a week, I hike, camp, fish, etc. doing everything that makes me happy and produces life experiences. I went from making $9.20/hr working a seasonal job, to landing a full-time year-round salaried position. I am soon going to move out of my shared 1 bedroom apartment to live in a larger house with friends I have made out here.

I went off on a bit of a tangent there, but the general point I am trying to convey is I would never be as happy with my life right had I not said screw the risks and realized the potential for much greater reward awaits. Take risks, risks produce rewards, risks produce happiness, nothing is more satisfiying that over coming a fear or taking a risk and succeeding. Too many people are afraid of failing, getting hurt, not pleasing others, afraid of being judged, that they live a life of dull repetitive behavior that never pleases ones thirst for adventure and change. Failure is bound to happen when you constantly take risks, failure is a motivator to produce better results in the future. Which is worse, failure, or never trying? If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

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How I Am Happy

For Yourself

I’ve always done what was expect of me by my family and friends. I have let this sort of shape who Ben Nadeau was over the past 22 years. I am not ashamed of this, as the great majority of young adults are heavily influenced by the idea of who they should be in the eyes of loved ones. No one ever aims to disappoint.

I, like many others, had this notion that those who have already been through these stages in life obviously must know what the “right” and most promising path to take is, right? Seems logical. It is this notion that disturbs the creativity and ability to build your own ideologies on how life should takes its course. This “right” path we are all expect to walk along as young adults; graduate high school, get into the best college possible, go to the best college possible, get good grades (even if it means not applying and diversifying yourself to new experiences), graduate, get an entry-level job (seemingly impossible, we all are familiar with the Catch 22 here), move out of your parents place, etc. is what a large marjoity of young adults are doing/told to do. Then, as if we’d have a say, we are pretty much told what few broad categories of academics will make us most successful in the future (Business, Health Sciences, Mathematics), again hindering any fostering of personal creativity. How many of these students would have rather purused a different course but were scared into beleiving that they would “never find a job,” “no one is successful in that field,” “you’d have to be lucky to progress with such an education.”

Where in this “right” path did me, myself, and I soely make the decision that this is what is “right.” I took this path because I was told that’s how it is done, and fuck, I’ve listened to what I’m suppose to do all the way up to this point, why stop now?

What I am slowly trying to reach is this… I finally said fuck it, after all this bullshit that I’ve been told to do throughout my life it has come to a point where I’ve told myself “you can do what YOU want.” Still quite hesitant to disappoint family and friends, I was able to look past that and start making decisions for myself. Some may think this is selfish, but who are you to say? You are probably still on that same path and never had big enough balls to step off it. Besides, how is it selfish to make decisions which will improve your overall mental well-being, your inner happiness, your idea of what life is really all about; self-fulfillment.

With that said, I have started this mind spew of thoughts, ideas, and theories to hopefully gain the attention of those who are looking at their life and having that moment of, “what the fuck am I doing?” Enjoy.

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Be Happy

Hedonic-Treadmill

It is extremely common for indivduals to find themselves walking or even running on the hedonic-treadmill. What goes on here is companies claim their product will provide you with superior satisfaction, when in reality us humans digest our purchases in a matter of hours to weeks depending on the serveity of the purchase. However, never will it outlast the price or value you paid/received from the product. The problem is, you purchase the product, digest it, and are right back where you started looking for something that is going to make you more satified or happier the next time around.

Side note; if your a company, don’t sell people on a product that is going to have them looking for something more fulfilling come the beginning of the purchase cycle. 1) Unsatisfied customers = bad word of mouth and 2) You will never generate repeat customers (remember 20/80; 20% of your customers produce 80% of your revenue).

This process puts people on an trecherous and never ending purchase cycle… happy for a moment, searching for something better. If you’re always looking to validate yourself and get satisfaction from buying stuff or having a bigger house, then you’re on an endless, addictive treadmill. There is no happy ending or enduring satisfaction, it simply leads to short-term disappointment and long-term dissatisfaction.

If you look at the components of long-term well-being, it has nothing to do with material goods. Once you’re past a certain level of material well-being, people’s long-term happiness is about having deep personal relationships, believing in something larger than themselves, and doing something meaningful that they enjoy. Humans don’t seek and receive deep personal relationships eventually to toss that to the side in search for something better. Humans don’t pick up a hobby or activity they truely enjoy and forget they enjoy it a couple weeks later. These experiences are life long, and even if they don’t last a life time they had a significant impact on who you are and what you value. So please, stop trying to keep up with the Jonses, rather do what the Jonses are not; discoving more meaning to life than accumulating material goods trying to out do their last purchase, never satisfied with what they previously obtained.

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Be Happy

Money and Happiness

I recently read an article that brought to my attention an interesting concept that correlates the way we perceive money and its relationship happiness. The article paraphrased and elaborated on a writing by John Armstrong, and what it explained was not the direct relation between amount of money and amount of happiness but rather why we are wired into believing that the more we earn, the more material goods we purchase, the happier we become. As time presses on, I am a believer that people are finally coming to a realization that this simply is not scientifically true and studies produced for decades, always yield the same result. There is a certain point in the money to happiness ratio or curve that gaining more financially does not produce happier people.

So, what Armstrong was suggesting is that there are essentially two ways humans learn; training and educating. To train a person, you are merely having them carry out specific tasks that will hopefully contribute to a larger product more efficiently. In training, the trainer does not need to invest any interest in who the trainee is, what the trainee loves to do, or how that trainee thinks… the trainee is a robot. We are TRAINED about money from Day 1. As kids, we simply WANT we do not NEED. We want a toy, we know we need money to get it, and once we get it we will be happy. Well, at a certain point in our adolesence this idea needs to be intercepted and we need to be EDUCATED about money.

Education involves the process embracing the person as a whole. How do they learn? What do they enjoy/love? What makes them happy? How can I best reach this individual to be their best? If we can intercept this idea that money is happiness at a young age and educate young adults on the matter, there wouldn’t be so much ugrency to get the highest paying job to eventually become inadequately happy.

The single most influential concept to money being happiness is deciphering the battle between wants and needs. Educating about wants vs. needs will allow young adults to perceive money as a priveldge and not just a means of gaining more for yourself. Being able to ward off mere desires (wants) will allow ones self to truely determine the important aspects of life (needs) that will produce significant happiness. The ability to resist desires is the means of shaping a persons self. To be able to adequatley answer the question of how will this better myself when making a purchse will open your eyes to how much you do not need.

The ability to realize what you need versus want, will ultimatley open up more doors leading to a fulfilling and happy life. Not working 60 hours a week to receive that new promotion in an office you dread going to everyday just so you can make an extra $15,000/year will open up time you can spend with friends and family, travel, workout, cook, etc. All aspects of life more important than money, but by reducing yourself to a work horse for money you will only seek further fulfillment once receiving that promotion. It will be self-fulfilling and rewarding for a very small window of time, soon you will seek more. Which, leads me into another psychological concept pertaining to wealth and happiness; the hedonic-treadmill.

“Don’t reserve our central capabilities for the margins and weekends of life.”

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Be Happy

Please, GO!

So many people never take a chance to explore the world around them, they are simply stuck in this tunnel vision of a world which makes up their total mindset. Have you ever heard someone complain after exploring a new place? I know you’ve heard it over and over, but seriously get the fuck out of that bubble of a comfort zone that you pretend is so fulfilling to you. Stop lying to yourself, everyone has a sense of adventure locked away and few ever take advantage of it.

It is excuse after excuse until you find yourself distant from your once primetime years. Are you afraid you’ll lose your beloved job that your concious fucking hates? I know, you need money to travel, so save some money, stop going to the bar and blowing $100 a night on the weekends. I agree, it can be fun in the moment. However, look back right now to a specific six month segment where you spent money on in the moment pleasures that you couldn’t have lived without. Now, how much money could you have saved to contribute towards LIFE EXPERIENCES. Ones that you literally look back on and say to yourself, that was incredible. Stop spending your money on material goods and short-lived moments, these things only make you think your happy for a limited time. Life experiences are what will define you as a person, not the epic night you had with your friends last weekend or the $200 pair of shoes you purchased. Drop any notion that material goods are going to provide you with long-term self-fulfillment, it is simply and scientifically not true.

Going back to a sole reason people refuse to step out of their daily routine to enhance their lives with life experiences and travel; their job. They are seemingly so comfortable with their job they most likely hate going to every morning that they tell themselves it would be ridiculous to leave such an opportunity. All I have to say is; if you can quit your job to fulfill your overall sense of adventure, you will be envied.

Next time someone tries to define who you are by asking “what do you do for a living?” Respond by telling them what your doing and have done to live.
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Be Happy

Work and Happiness

“Why is it that most business leaders and investors don’t see the connection between creating the intangible employee happiness with creating the tangible financial profits.”
 
This notion is quite simple. What I am saying is that incentives to make your employees happier in the workplace breeds productivity and in the long run profitability. It’s an uncomplicated concept that seems far too frequently over looked by businesses/corporations small and large. A concept as simple as longer lunch breaks to hit the gym; you experience self-improvement and confidence along with high productivity rates when you return for the remainer of the work day. It’s a small investment for the company that yields higher returns than companies are willing to realize. Businesses are so keen on measuring their performace on soely tangible measurments, but if they simply consider their employees overall happiness (an intangible asset) they would be suprised when they see the positive repercussions. Not only does it improve company morale but it reflects outside the workplace as well; win-win.
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