I have not yet read Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive, but here is an excerpt a friend shared, which instantly touched a chord –
The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind.
To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.
Investing isn’t away from the reality Haig has talked about in his book. The things we hear or read in business media, or what we hear most advisors and experts speak, are designed to depress us. Happiness (of their customers and prospects) isn’t very good for relationship managers peddling their toxic financial products.
We are sold insurance policies, mutual funds, and stock ideas as if our lives depended on them. And that if we don’t buy those products, we would end up in poverty and despair, even as our friends and all those friends we know on Twitter and Facebook would get rich.
People are led to make financial plans for 20-30 years ahead, while not many are taught to deal in the present with the behavioral aspects of taking care of their money, like simplicity, frugality, and patience.
Financial freedom remains a subject tied only to money and not to the peace that no amount of money or wealth would get us, but which is a subject matter of the understanding within, of course, along with enough money.
I mean, look at what Charlie Sheen, when asked what he’s going to do when he makes his millions, replied in the movie Wall Street – “I think if I can make a bundle of cash before I’m thirty and get out of this racket, I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle across China.”
Well, do you really need a ‘bundle’ (a huge sum of money) to buy a motorcycle and ride across China?
The fact is that the more we think that a lot of money is what we need to live happily, and the more we associate money with most things in life, the more we convince ourselves that we are too poor to buy our freedom.
But this is what the world is increasingly designed to do to us – always create that fear, urge, and urgency to go for more, even when we have more than enough.
However, like Haig adds to the above note –
Yet we have no other world to live in. And actually, when we really look closely, the world of stuff and advertising is not really life. Life is the other stuff. Life is what is left when you take all that crap away, or at least ignore it for a while.
Practice this in investing too, and you will be at great peace always. Take all that crap away – unwanted noise, advice, and financial products – and stick with what is the bare minimum, including the idea of having enough money and that’s it.
You won’t then have to wait for your financial freedom in the future, for the worry about having a lot of money will disappear right away, and you will start feeling grateful for what you have right now – adequate food, safe shelter, and the company of your loved ones.
That world won’t depress you, believe me.
Ramanathan T says
Thanks . This is timely and vindicates personal experiences.
As Gita and Great Masters of this land recommend ” Abhyasa & Vairagya” go- together. Till we ignore the external world, the mind, which by nature is restless can’t handle what is must and necessary.
Y.Srinivasa Reddy says
Greatest ideas dawn only to an agitated mind.
Thanks Vishal. This was insightful. This addresses primary thought patterns around money and instiable need for more. We really need to know what do I really need v what do I want and also ask ourselves “why?”. Also need to overcome fear of being left behind in social circle when we focus on what we really need !
Thanks again for sharing your article
Very Good article
You are absolutely right. Financial freedom is really important which must be talked about. If I look around real estate agent during 1991 to 2015 or founders of many companies who started with little amount of money achieved financial freedom with hard/smart team work. Now a days those guys are doing what they really want to do in life. But question remains how a salaried person can achieve financial freedom by investing with lot of products into market?
Wonderfully summarised. Real problem is realising that there is a noise …identifying the noise and detaching yourself from it.
Shivkumar Mani says
Timeless wisdom captured in soothing words. Reminded me instantly about the well known short story written by Leo Tolstoy-“How Much Land Does a Man Require?” It is time we learnt the simple lesson that being happy is not always about being rich. The piece also provokes questions about how much we consume in terms of resources. It is a moot point whether we are nearing the tipping point of this consumption cycle.
Thanks a lot for sharing this post.
sanjiv shah says
excellent . thank you
This kind of existence is neither easily achieved nor impossible too.If we practice “via negativa” as told by Taleb(by removing unnecessary stuff from our life),we can achieve that.Again when everyone achieves that,global economy may collapse.But again mankind will flourish with whatever little remaining economy which is more than sufficient for inner and global peace.Once again thanks to Vishal for providing the right stuff at right time.
Radhika Wadhawan says
Very beautifully written. Thanks for sharing
Naked truth but people are keep on listening other way around and forgot use their native wisdom.
Shashidhar R says
There is something called “natural progression of desire” it is part of human nature. Do we really want to wear BATA chappal for ever? Do we really want to go around on TVS-50? Well in life there is always a gap between theory and practice! All you need to do is mind this gap.
KAPIL VERMA says
Uday Nath says
This is a really good and vitally important piece, Vishal!
Well done, and thanks for sharing it!
I agree also. Most of the stimulus or noise of this world. Is a sales pitch/commercial. How much land land do I need(Tolstoy)? Enough space so I don’t have to hear my neighbors arguing. Yes, you can reach financial independence as a salaried worker. The world/noise try’s to convince you, you can’t. So that you will keep spending and a stay a worker. My 2 cents worth. Thanks for the article.
rajendra ganpatdas gandhi says
What a wonderful insight about the financial freedom, even if someone has achieved it and want to live happily the society doesn’t accept him and is left isolated
I guess its best to take a middle path here.
absolutely struggling with the bare necessitates is anyway depressing but once you meet the basic standard than one needs to ask if the mindless pursuit of more is worth it.
middle path is exactly needed.spot on Aaron.keep commenting
Thank you for this post! The hard part is definitely behavioral!
Thanks Vishal, completely agree. Most of us fall in doom of future while ruining the present. This kind of advice bring us back to be in present and know what is enough so that we can stay happy
Pradeepa Y S says
Good Article, Happy
I can’t think subjectively better in terms of why to achieve financial freedom. This led me to believe that financial freedom should not be apprehended as money hoarding exercise but how to feel more content and fulfilled by enjoying the process itself.
Kudos to you Vishal!
Bharat Saraiya says
Thank you for post.It is very good.I always wait for your thought provoking mails.
Priyanka Verma says
Financial freedom is not something which is measured by the bundle of money someone having or the branded items which are consumed. It is something linked with the inner state of someone, peace of mind and a state of satisfaction which anyone enjoys with all he is having.
Truly great article and it captures the essence of our scriptures. It has come at a wonderful time and helps immensely. Thank you once again.
You are a gifted writer
Ashwini Kumar Singh says
This is one of the finest column I have read in recent time. Very thoughtful.
Mukul Joshi says
Superb thoughts! It was there all the time but I could never spot it 😊… Thanks for showing the red glass filter to see the invisible Mogambos this time for a change 😜
I had planned for Financial Freedom and persuing the same but sometimes somewhere I was in two minds about my decision. However, your these words made sure I would not doubt my decision and enjoy the process and, of course, outcome.
Thank you for this.
Valen Lee says
Very Good insight. However it will be a tough act to do as the world will let us get out of its claw.
Sukhdev Singh says
Hi Vishal ,
Thanks for your email.
I always enjoy your posts and this one is no exception.
harsh mirani says
Such an amazing insight…by far your best article
Hats of to you Vishal 🙂
Bharat Wadhwa says
Nicely put Vishal. Great article but difficult to accept and implement the changes suggested.
PS: I am already going through various sections of the website.
Harneet Singh Kharbanda says
Very nice article ! loved it !
Love the way you think and present your thoughts. Keep it up . Thanks.
Amit Goel says
Great wisdom, worth reading every word.. thanks for sharing .
Thanks for this wonderful article
Thank you for this wonderful article. 🙂