Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Doom and Gloom Mentality

Currently our citizens are experiencing, what some would define as, pretty rough times. We have two politicians, which approximately the same amount of people vehemently hate, vying for our country's top political office. People who could once take pride in the fact that they had a roof over their head, may no longer experience that same comfort. Even our future is at stake as Mutual Funds, IRAs, and 401ks are being rocked by a volatile stock market. We don't trust our financial institutions, our creditors, our government or each other.
Picking up the news paper or turning on the news is like an exercise in futility as we find out about natural disasters, crooked politicians, crazy foreign leaders, gas prices and crime. It is easy to see why people are increasingly getting depressed and hopeless. This has even trickled down into some of my personal interests. For example: I am a huge Tennessee fan. We have not had a great football season. But instead of realizing that we have an inexperienced QB and a new offensive scheme, people on the message boards act like it is the end of the world. If Tennessee loses, life is lost. I am sure you can think of similar examples. Your team also sucks, gas lines that recently troubled and nearly crippled the South, the double cheeseburger being taken off the dollar menu at McDonalds, the shrink ray at the grocery store. Whatever it is, no matter how big or small, you might be affected by a feeling of loss or hopelessness as the world you knew simply seems to crumble around you.
I want to look at two things: why we buy into this feeling when it is completely unnecessary, and also how can we recover from it.

First of all, if people actually read my posts, I am sure I would receive responses such as, "you have no idea what I am going through," or "just because your life is rosy doesn't mean mine can be." I could easily counteract with the old argument that even if you were to lose everything, you would still be better off than the third world countries. But that is not my intent. I will get nowhere by slighting your feelings.
I am going to be completely transparent and say that the number one reason I do not fear any of this is because my faith in God and the promises He has made in my life. Not a Christian? Don't stop reading yet. Bear with me through the next paragraph as I explain my personal beliefs in these matters and then I will widen the net.
God has told us that there is no need for us to worry. He has promised that if He is going to provide food for the birds of the air and dress the fields with the splendor of lilies, then He is going to take care of our needs. That does not mean that we should not plan and take responsibility and initiative in these areas of our lives but it does mean that we should not have to stress over them when those plans do not work out like we had hoped. When the world seems unsteady, God's hand steadies and holds us up.

Still with me? Good. So, perhaps you have little faith or no faith at all or simply like to do things your own way. There is still hope and reason not to resort to aggressive trichotillomania. How can I claim the feeling of loss or hopelessness is unnecessary? Because, while things may be less than stellar, we are far from Armageddon. In this country we have every possible natural resource we need to survive. The only thing stopping us is regulations and I promise, if all hell broke loose, those regulations would be removed or the people of this country would forcibly rise and remove them. We have structures in places, someone will have to occupy them even if it is for pennies on the dollar. We have food sources in grains and animals. We have oil that could be obtained if need be. We have a strong military and we have some most of the most brilliant minds working on economic, technological, and innovative issues. While this might not help in immediate personal situations, it does give reason to believe that the country is not going to end up back in the stone age.

As for my second point, what can you do in these times to provide stability and ride the wave of doom and gloom? Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice and in case I have not stressed it enough yet, sacrifice. I know from my experience as a grad student that rent and utilities aside, I can survive on less than $30 a week if I am not driving. That includes groceries and other household items. It was not enjoyable but I survived. Oh yeah, that was in the dead of winter too. It was a short time but I made it work. I cut the cable, turned off the heat and bundled up, shopped at the dollar store, walked more places, gave up most forms of entertainment like movies and made my food stuff like Ramen Noodles. By the way, MSG causes me nausea so this was miserable for a few weeks. The thing is though, I made it through, got a decent job and slowly built my savings.
I am not implying that this is the preferable way to live, but if life pushes you down, hold the weight and eventually life will pull you back up. Even though I have a personal aversion to most government sponsored programs, they are there for just such occasions so you might as well utilize them. Here are some of the programs offered in North Carolina as an example. You can have rent paid for and food covered plus utility credits. Also figure out what you want versus what you need. I have enough jackets, I don't need a new one. The shoes look great but do they serve a function that a pair I already have do not? Do I need to eat out or can I plan ahead and eat cheaper at home?

With all of this said, there is good reason not to be too worried about our current state. While it might mean that we can not drive the car we want or live in the location we desire, we can survive. And ultimately life is more important than what we posses in it. If I get enough people reading and commenting with feedback, I will post a side bar with additional resources for saving money and and easy tips for being financially wise in turbulent times.

Ultimately decide what is important. Hopefully your answer by now consists of things like God, family, friends, etc. Find your enjoyment in those things alone and eventually you will no longer need to worry about the state of the world around you. Goodbye Doom and Gloom. Hello joy and contentment!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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