How to feel in control

By | May 26, 2016

I mentioned recently that I enjoyed reading Scott Adam’s book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.” He has a fantastic chapter on setting your activities to your inner clock and I highlighted this a bunch of times.

…the single biggest trick for manipulating your happiness chemistry is being able to do what you want, when you want.

Bingo. I am having so much fun an amazing percentage of the time. Money lets me dictate my own schedule. I don’t buy things, but I buy my time and I tailor my energy level to match my activity.

I'm not actually sleeping here. This picture was staged!

I have a lot of pictures of me sleeping to choose from. Me with my cousins. My part was staged.

I sleep when I’m tired and wake up when I’m not. This might be my favorite thing about my life. It’s such a luxury and the biggest reason I call myself out on my laziness. I love sleeping. My waking hours rock too. I write for two hours most days, occasionally much less and sometimes much more. I read books. I hang out with my friends. I talk to my family. I take long walks. I go wherever I want. I make travel plans and look forward to the next whatever. I laugh and smile a lot. I feel genuinely happy. I giggle in awe that I get to live this life.

I know that control is an illusion and that the Universe might accidentally knock down anyone with the hubris to think otherwise, but I also know that feeling completely out of control really drags me down. Money gives you options in relationships, living situations, legal kerfuffles and life in general. More options means more control. I wrote a list of stumbling blocks to happiness that involve lack of control that money probably can’t solve and might even make worse.

Thriftygal’s list of happiness detours that I have no advice on

  1. Addiction of any sort. If your addiction is in more control than you are, I’m guessing you’re not happy. Oh man, especially a shopping addiction. That’s my idea of hell.
  2. The grief that comes with death. I have no crippling experience with this yet either. I dread the day.
  3. Living in a country with no freedom. I read too much about North Korea.

If you’re feeling out of control because you don’t have enough money, you can do something about that, however. Adopt a healthier attitude towards what it means to work and to live and to have enough. I can’t control everything, but I can control my attitude. I can feel as in control as I want to be. There’s the t-shirt line.

Not sketchy. We were on a roadtrip.

Not sketchy. We were on a roadtrip.

Here’s what helps me. It sounds simple, but all of my advice is simple. Decide what you’re going to do and then go out and do it. Remind yourself of why you made that decision when the moping starts. Feel empowered.

Leaving Australia last year brought me to tears. I loved living in that part of the world and the idea of my adventure ending gutted me. I actually interviewed and contemplated a job offer to stay, but as much as I loved Sydney, I knew corporate law couldn’t make me happy. That was my decision and knowing I had control and was doing the best thing for me greatly lessened the sorrow.

It can work for you too. Tell yourself that you get up and go to work because you decided you’re going for financial independence. You’re responsible and that is the type of person you want to be. Nobody is making you do anything. You want a bigger life. You’re not going to buy that crap. You’re going to put that money towards making everything better long-term. Yeah!

I love my life because I feel like I am in control of it. I feel free. Retirement is better than you think. At least my retirement is better than I thought it would be and I thought it was going to be pretty damn good.

The only hard part is deciding what gets my attention now. Everything. I want to do everything.

This is right before she starts banging on a pot to wake me up. Christmas morning with my cousin.

This is right before she starts banging on a pot to wake me up. Christmas morning with my cousin.

Like this. She's cruel.

Like this. She’s cruel.

What a jerk.

What a jerk.

I have so many more I could post.

I have so many more I could post.

5 thoughts on “How to feel in control

  1. Biglaw Investor

    Daniel Pink’s book Drive makes a similar argument. Turns out it’s not money that motivates us (at least in the long term) but autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy makes a lot of sense. We all want control over our lives. Perhaps that’s why corporate law is so tough? You know there’s not a first year alive who has semblance of autonomy.

  2. k smyth

    Having good health is also critical to happiness, as is having sufficient resources to handle the rough times.

  3. Brittany Murphy

    “Remind yourself of why you made that decision when the moping starts.” This.

    I need to practice looking all the tempting pastries I buy in their sugary eyes and telling them (and myself) why I cannot buy and consume them. I need to fatten my wallet. Not my waist.

  4. zeejaythorne

    I am currently between gigs and sleeping when my body desires is the greatest feeling. This temporary loveliness is definitely putting a fire under my belly to get to FI faster so that I can have this all the time.


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