Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to Want What You Have


In our quest to banish our debt and reach financial freedom we often get caught up with keeping up with the "Jones". We often end up making poorly thought out purchases that bring us temporary joy, that lacks long term fulfillment. How to Want What You Have by Timothy Miller is a great book that teaches a fundamental philosophy to live by. In it Miller describes the basic human instinct that drives us to perpetually desiring More.

We are never quite satisfied with what we have because a basic survival instinct is to strive to become the "leader of the pack". Whether we do this by obtaining status symbols or accumulating wealth there is a deep desire to continually consume. The problem is that once we reach the bar we set, it ends up just rising again. Miller explains where this instinct originates and some ingenious methods in overcoming this instinct.

The three principles in which he presents in the book are Compassion, Attention, and Gratitude.

Compassion: is the ability to understand that all others around us are pretty much striving for the same things in different ways. Also we must understand that no one is more entitled to getting what they want more than you are. When we have compassion for the people around us we become less critical and judgmental which frees us from hate filled feelings towards others.

Attention: is focusing on the present. Sometimes we get so caught up in reaching our goals we forget to stop and smell the roses. Attention means not dwelling on the mistakes of the past and not wishing for a better tomorrow. Attention means belonging to the now and enjoying the present for all that it is.

Gratitude: is being grateful for what you have. We live in one of the most wealthy countries in the world. An individual in Canada may not think of themselves as wealthy compared to friends, neighbours or family, but in reality we are in the top 5% of the wealthiest in the world. A majority of the world's population is more worried about how they will feed there family tomorrow rather than how they will get there plasma screen and surround sound set up.

This book should be read before any other personal finance books because it helps set the foundation for a meaningful life. Having this insight will help us set meaningful goals that will bring us lasting joy and purpose. As the saying goes true happiness comes from not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

Don't take my word for it. Here is a video of the Dalai Lama's thoughts about inner peace, happiness and money:

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