There will always be temptation to forsake the future for immediate gratification. We all want to buy that new piece of technology, treat ourselves to an expensive night on the town, or take out a loan for the flashy car we can’t afford. It might feel great at the time but rash spending hurts a lot later on.
Enjoy life’s simple pleasures and save as much as you can. Expensive things don’t create lasting happiness and security. Careful spending will bring you greater leisure and enjoyment in the long run.
2. Put Your Money to Work
Saving is great, but to make the most of your money you need to put it to work. Good investments can be the difference between retiring in your 40’s or in your 60’s.
A post today at The Simple Dollar really got me thinking. According to Trent’s projections, if a person in their early 20’s invests 20% of their income in an S&P index fund, the interest they earn will equal their current salary when they reach their early 40’s. They could retire without a drop in income!
Wise investing is the surest path to financial independence and it’s something everyone can work on. It’s definitely an area I’ll be devoting more attention to in my personal life and on this blog.
3. Educate Yourself
To be happy we need continuous growth. The best way to grow is life long education. This doesn’t mean you need to pursue a doctorate or spend 2 hours reading every day. Self education can be anything that takes you out of your comfort zone. The important part is keeping an open mind and searching for fresh ideas and perspectives.
Education builds over time. It might feel like the bits of wisdom you acquire don’t mean much, but over the years they add up to form a wiser, kinder, more interesting person.
4. Develop Lasting Personal Relationships
Suppose you had everything you wanted. Would you be happy without anyone to share it with? The personal relationships we develop with friends and family members are the greatest source of happiness in our lives. Don’t forget about them.
Taking the time to cultivate and enjoy personal relationships is essential to longterm happiness. Without the people you care about you’ll probably be miserable, no matter how successful you become.
5. Work Towards a Dream You’re Passionate About
Even if your life isn’t perfect, you can always build towards a goal you’re passionate about. If you aren’t building towards something, you’re probably stagnating. When this happens to me I start to feel like a victim trapped by my own life. The best way to reverse this is working towards a goal.
We can’t control everything about our lives, but working towards a goal gives us something positive to focus on and lays the foundation for future success. No matter what your passion is, get out there and start doing something. As Lao Tzu said, even a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
Bonus: 6. Stay in Shape
You only get one body. Once it’s been ruined there isn’t much you can do about it. Exercise to keep the rust off. Avoid excessive consumption of damaging substances and unhealthy foods. It may feel like terrible self denial at the time but enjoying good health in your later years is worth the sacrifice.
Since my kids were very little we take time every night before bed to verbalize something we are grateful about for that day. It can be something simple like getting a homework assignment finished or something more meaningful like being grateful that my mother's cancer has not returned. I just think it is a good way to put life into a positive light before go to sleep. I have found it invaluable in helping my chronic sleep issues as well.
I especially love your advice about living below your means, which I think can be very difficult, given the fact that even current spiritual doctrines are all about "having abundance" and creating prosperity. I don't think there's anything wrong with being comfortable, but the idea that acquiring things will make us more happy really bothers me. Being happy with the simple pleasures, like you said, is more than enough for me.
I think another way to build a wonderful life is to cultivate generosity. We seldom realize that we have a huuuuuge impact on other people in our life, and if we can work towards giving without reservation, it can truly affect someone else's life in a deep, long-lasting way.