Quantcast Finally Frugal: Enough!

The bumpy road to financial independence. . . .


Sunday, March 9, 2008


Sigh. I arrived back in Portland from Mexico last night, and am now preparing to get back to work. After a week of relaxing on the beach, eating freshly-caught fish (and drinking freshly-blended margaritas), and meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old ones, sitting in front of my computer just seems wrong somehow!

Anyway, now that my Mexican interlude is over, it's back to the daily grind, and I realized I've never written about my night job---the one that is allowing me to repay my debt more quickly.

My moonlighting job involves web research related to environmental health, and many times I come across articles that are relevant to me (and to the planet!) vis à vis consumerism and waste. Here's just one example:

Last week The Herald published an interesting opinion piece, written by John Naish, the author of Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More. This is not a book that I have personally read (nor have I even heard of it) but it sounds like something that would appeal to me as a person who is attempting to live a simpler life. Mr. Naish explains that we often purchase items when we’re unhappy or anxious, as a way to fulfill some emotional need.

In fact, studies have shown that the ‘feel good’ chemical dopamine is activated when we’re on the ‘hunt’ for a new item. Interestingly, this chemical reward is highest when we’ve located our item and are considering a purchase. Once we’ve sealed the deal and the purchase is complete, the dopamine effect flattens, and we are hit with ‘buyer’s remorse’.

Naish suggests two ways we can help ourselves control the urge to splurge:

Attitude Adjustment: we need to stop thinking that some thing is going to make us happy, even though we are already surrounded by enough stuff in our homes and offices to provide satisfaction for years to come. The key here is expressing gratitude for the things we already own, instead of striving to own more. In fact, Mr. Naish cites a study that provides evidence that those of us who are more appreciative and grateful exhibit more happiness and less need to assuage our emotions with retail therapy.

Decide to Have Enough: related to the attitude (and behavior) adjustment noted above, is the idea of simply deciding that what I have is already enough. Obtaining more and more stuff can make us less happy, because we spend time, energy, and money on searching for, purchasing, cleaning, maintaining, and insuring the stuff that we bring into our lives. This gets in the way of spending quality time with our families and other loved ones---the ‘thing’ that really brings happiness (and doesn’t add one iota to global warming, I might add).

J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly also recently wrote about the concept of ‘enough’, and how being satisfied with what we have can be the key to personal wealth. Check it out!

“You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy.” ~Eric Hoffer

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