Farley’s Thoughts on Money and Happiness

“It’s always better to cry in a BMW than it is on a bicycle.”

I’ve heard that quote before, and variations of it. It always comes up when someone is debating whether money really does make you happy. If you look at it like that, it’s perfectly right. I’d rather cry in a 10-bedroom mansion than in a one-room bedsit.

But the way I look at it is I’m still crying. I’m still not happy. And so many people miss the point when it comes to this. You’re still not happy, so in that sense money doesn’t bring happiness.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be rich and happy or poor and happy (I fall into the latter); however, I’m going to say that the two are completely separate things.

On some Reddit chat that I was browsing when I should have been working one guy said something that’s always stuck in my head. He said, “Wealth is like seawater.”

Before I decided to change my life, I was your standard worker. Always looking for that promotion and always looking for more money to put into my bank account at the end of the month. And it’s true that wealth is like seawater. The more you drink of it the more you want.

Think back to when you were kid and your parents gave you £20 to do whatever you wanted with. I bet you felt like a king. You felt like you were rich.

Now let’s fast-forward a bit to your first job. You might have received £300 for that month of work. You likely felt proud and that you were rolling in the money. The same goes for when you were worth more than £1,000. For some of us, you may have felt the same when you had more than £10,000 in the world.

But what I noticed (and it’s likely something you noticed) is that it never felt like the first time you got that £20 as a kid. Again, the seawater just makes you thirstier.

Does that mean money has nothing to do with happiness?

I’m not saying that at all. You just have to see money as what it is. It gives you peace of mind, security, and, crucially, what you need to make you happy.

Let’s say that travel makes you happy. You need money to do it. So in that sense money can bring you happiness because it’s enabling you to do what makes you happy.

This is a distinction you absolutely have to make. Getting lots of money for no real purpose at all is pointless. It’s not going to change your life.

It’s something I changed about my own life. I didn’t think about the amount of money in my bank account; I set a goal and worked towards it. For example, I really wanted to buy a classic Rolls Royce. Those things are expensive. I didn’t think about the money I needed; I thought about the thing I wanted because I knew it was something I wanted since I was a kid.

Have I bought that thing yet? No, but just working towards that goal gradually has allowed me to feel like I’m no longer a slave to money. I can work on the things that really make me happy.

If anyone ever tells you that money doesn’t matter, punch them in the face. They’re either lying to you or are deluded. Life costs what life costs and few people living in the Western world are going to be happy if they’re totally broke.

Just focus on the goal not on the amount. Do you feel the same way as me?

Why is Everyone Always So Gloomy About Living Standards (And What I Do About It)

Everyone seems so down these days.

The other day I was reading the BBC and came across an article about the Budget. As grand as it sounds, this is actually pretty important, or so my wife told me. But what struck me about the mood of the article is that everyone was gloomy and depressed about living standards.

How are living standards supposed to be measured anyway?

I’m not quite sure on that one, but I don’t think I’m still living ten years in the past. I now have a house that can turn the heating on because I called it from work. How many of you had that ten years ago?

But the fact is that people seem to do nothing but complain about the ‘endless squeeze on living standards’.

So I felt inspired to write a piece on this. What do I do about it?

Are My Living Standards Really that Bad? 

I look at my little house and my little family and ask the question as to whether my living standards are really that bad. Look, I lost my job in 2008 and I was out of work for two years. Those were difficult times, but I don’t think that my standard of living ever fell. It just meant that I had to be a bit more careful with my money.

Ask yourself whether you are complaining because you cannot afford a third holiday or Sky TV, or whether it is because you genuinely can’t afford food.

The chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Make a Change to Your Life 

I’m one man and I can’t change how the economy works. I cannot change what the government is doing. And neither can you. That’s okay because I truly have no interest in trying to protest government decisions or change how things work. I believe only in what I can do to change my situation.

That means I have to be able to adapt myself and my family to what’s going on outside our humble four walls. Whether that means I save more money or avoid my 3am spending sprees on Amazon, I have to make changes. And I’m fine with that because it’s often the signal I need to start taking out some of my bad habits.

Is it always so easy?

I am not naïve, and I know that my family is in a more privileged position than others. We don’t have to worry about putting food on the table and we don’t have to worry about what’s happening in politics.

For you, it may not be the same. But my advice to you would be to consider this the chance for some self-reflection. Think about what you can do to make your life better, regardless of what the goal is. Spending all your time getting angry about smooth talking politicians isn’t going to change anything.

That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned looking back at when I was an angry man. With Brexit and the current state of the government, I would have been screaming at the TV and raging online any spare moment I got. But now I’m not. I try to avoid even watching politics any longer.

It’s a real weight lifted from my shoulders. And a lot of my friends have taken the same course of action. The government isn’t going to do it for you. Help yourselves in the best way you possibly can.

It will be hard, and you’ll have to change the habits that have built up over a long time.

But you can do it. I know you can.

Is Pessimism Bad for You (And What to Do About It)?

Optimists versus pessimists is a battle as old as time itself. Is it better to be always positive or always negative? Both sides have their compelling arguments.

Lately, I read an article from The Guardian entitled Is Pessimism Really Bad for You and, once again, I heard the same usual arguments. Now I’ve written before about why I started Farley in Writing. I wanted to be a less angry, miserable person. And this blog is the perfect outlet.

But is pessimism so bad that it’s hazardous to your health?

I can’t give a concrete answer to that. What I do know is that from many years of being a pessimist it sucks.

You’re angry most of the time and it takes a lot to get you to really feel happiness. Some say that you’re more of a realist, but I don’t think you can’t be a realistic and be an optimist at the same time.

I think we need to get away from the idea that the only way to be an optimist is to be happy all the time. Yes, I say that I’m an optimist now. But do I still get angry about things? Of course I do. Do I feel like there’s no way out of a bad situation? Sometimes.

But the difference between an optimist and everyone else is that I still get on with my day. Look, I can watch the news and hear about Trump grabbing someone’s arse or I can look at the confusing Brexit process the UK’s going through right now and I could slam my fists on the table about it. However, ultimately, I can do nothing about it.

I’m a normal guy and I know what I can do and what I can’t do. I can’t change the US president tomorrow and I can’t suddenly resolve this Brexit conundrum. So I don’t beat myself up about it. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, but I refuse to let it dominate my life.

And maybe if I was a pessimist it would grind me down and it would cause me some health problems. I’ve seen enough studies that say pessimists are at a greater risk of having a heart attack.

Whether it’s true or not, I’m going to leave that to science.

That’s much too pessimistic, though, (see what I did there?!) it’s time to talk about how you can make the transition from miserable pessimistic to cautiously optimistic.

I tried a few times to be happier in my life. One of the big lessons I discovered is that it’s not tied to your life circumstances. I’ve been pessimistic after I’ve received promotions, had great holidays, and when I’ve been near clinically depressed.

Repeat after me. It’s not about where you are in life.

What I find worked for me was asking one simple question after anything that happens: “But does it REALLY matter?”

It’s a simple yet disarming question. No matter how bad the situation is I ask myself this question. So your team lost a game of football? It doesn’t really matter after a few minutes. It doesn’t impact your life, and if it does it’s not going to put you in a doorway that smells of urine at four in the morning on a cold November night.

Putting things into perspective has completely changed my outlook on life in general. It almost makes you look silly that your bus was late and you turned it into a depressing thought about the state of public services that lasts the whole day. And yet that’s the mind of the pessimist.

Does this mean you have to become insufferably happy?

I hope not, otherwise I’m failing at it. Just between you and me, a miserable sod is just as annoying as someone who never seems to be anything but in a constant state of joy.

Like with anything in life, there has to be a balance. It’s not easy to achieve and I won’t sit here and say that I’ve come close to reaching that right balance yet.

But what I can say is that balance is something we should all aspire to reach every day!