I was walking the dogs this evening, thinking about my wife, Liz, and my son, Tyson, both of whom are visiting my mother-in-law for the weekend. As I walked I was picturing Tyson, who is just a hair over 4 months of age, wearing his blue pajamas, hat and slippers. This was the outfit I saw him in this morning, just before heading to the office. He looked so cute, baby pimples and all. He gave me a big smile and made both Liz and I smile with a joy that never seems to lose its luster, no matter how many times he cracks the same silly grin.
So I’m walking my dogs, picturing my cute little son, my beautiful wife and the tangible happiness that they bring to my life. I guess you could say that I had found a moment of true appreciation for what I’d been blessed with. Yet the funny thing is that in those moments (and I’m sure you can relate to this) I had not a single thought of a purchased item. Not my Macbook Pro or iPhone, not my car or house or my TV or bike or…you get the point. OK, maybe I thought about my Macbook, but only for a second and then it was back to my wife and son.
It’s just that in these moments we seem to recognize what truly matters in life. The rest of the time we find ourselves worrying about money, obsessing over something we want to purchase or trying to convince ourselves and/or those around us that our lives would be much better off if we could just have that one item that’s missing from our ‘collection’.
Our Return Is Always Equal To Our Investment
When you invest your time, money and/or attention into something you will inevitably receive a return that is equal to that investment (this is not always entirely true, but just work with me here). So let’s say you spend $50 on a nice dinner out. You’ll receive an enjoyable, short lived bit of satisfaction and then you’ll forget all about it. Now let’s say you spend $500 on a new grill. This item has the capacity to provide you with many occasions of enjoyment and satisfying cuisine. It cost you more money and took you more time to save up for, but you knew this was an investment into your grilling enjoyment.
OK, so forget about the horrible analogy above and think about this. What has the greatest value in your life? Got it? OK, now what area of your life takes the most work to maintain? I don’t know about you, but my family means the world to me and yet my marriage, for example, has required more effort to maintain than most anything else.
You know the saying, “You get what you pay for.”? Well, when it comes to having true joy in your life you find that hard work is most certainly involved. My point is that trying to buy our happiness is the easy way out and yet the least satisfying option. We are so easily convinced that somehow there is a price tag dangling from happiness and it’s just a matter of making enough money to purchase it. But the fact is, this is a BIG FAT LIE!
The last 7 years of marriage to Liz have been a roller coaster ride, to say the least, but it’s only in that effort that I’ve gained a priceless friendship that will last a lifetime. And now we get to share that love with our son and enjoy even more value for our efforts.
Let me end with this…
If you have a spouse, or a sibling or a parent or a friend or anyone in your life who brings you joy, always see the true value of that investment. These are the things that matter, not the ‘stuff’ in your life.
The secret to spending less and having more is to take the time and energy that you would have spent on:
- …working to make the money for a purchase
- …making the purchase
- …making space for the product
- …and then maintaining it…
and put that effort into nurturing your relationships. Do this and I promise you’ll find your greater efforts will always be matched with MUCH greater reward.