Having survived the initial and most earth shaking part of our financial crisis, we are now heading into what feel like uncertain times, so what can we do to buffer ourselves against sinking into the down side of uncertainty and maximize our possibilities for personal growth? Just as money can actually be made in a down market, personal growth can actually expand in one. Sometimes shaking things up can allow them to reshuffle and land in a new place. Uncertain times can make us philosophical. Crisis, as the old Chinese symbol indicates, is also an opportunity for change. Because the ground isn’t holding and we’re forced by circumstances to reassess and reexamine, we’re also more open to trying new tactics that might help us to ride out the storm. When things are all going along in business as usual mode, we tend to float on the surface of life a bit more than when we’re being challenged. Our current financial crisis is a good example of this phenomenon. All of the elements that have led to our current dilemmas have been building slowly over time, we just didn’t want to see them. Weakening forces like spending money we didn’t really have and living on the edge by carrying too much credit haven’t come out of nowhere. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves some hard questions. Have we have been living in a time of chasing dreams at the expense of our own sound financial underpinnings? Is what we’ve been chasing really what leads to lasting happiness? Or are we placing too much faith in things outside of ourselves at the expense of developing our own inner resources?
One problem with affluence is that it can turn us into picky people. We start to live with the illusion that experiences can be bought and bartered, we become perfectionist. We upgrade like mad to find the most trendy, opulent or exquisite pleasure available and then when we get it, it’s rarely as good as we thought it would be. Because the truth is, it’s not finding just the right experience necessarily, as much as the right way of looking at what we’re experiencing that creates happiness. Circumstances are always changing. Periods of prolonged prosperity can create the impression that they are more stable than they actually are. But real contentment has much more to do with what’s going on inside rather than outside of ourselves. If this is a period when we have to live more simply in order to make ends meet, then it may also be a period in which we can rediscover the joys in simple pleasures. Gathering with friends and cooking dinner together, hikes in the woods, walks in the park, wiling away the afternoon with a good book or lingering over a cup of tea with a friend are all time honored pleasures that cost basically nothing. We have been living in a period of extraordinary materialism in which happiness has been equated with what we have on the outside. Maybe one silver linings of a recession can be learning to take pleasure again in the simpler things of life and our ability to enjoy and appreciate them.
We can take a deeper look at what has been driving us and ask ourselves some of those questions that may allow us to grow and expand through these challenging times rather than contract and implode. Stress makes what is already tough, even tougher while consciously taking time to sink into the moment and enjoy what it has to offer can allow us to refresh and refuel. The weekend is coming, enjoy yourself.
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Blog entry originally published at http://www.huffingtonpost.com.