Goodness! Does it really cost £148,000 to raise a child? That’s what a report on the news this morning told me: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23726224
It’s shocking to read of so many families in a crisis of poverty. Yet they’re surviving on nothing like this amount and still providing a decent standard of living. Who trots figures like this out? We certainly had nothing like it.
But I wonder sometimes whether we perhaps all need to reappraise our view of ‘decent’ in hard economic times. And it is all relative anyway.
A decent house to some may be any roof over their heads, never mind a bedroom for each child. A decent life to others may mean running water – somewhere nearby – even if not in the house! Decent shoes to some might be nothing less than a designer pair, whereas others don’t even have shoes. And we all expect to have updated technology where once we didn’t need any at all.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have these things, just asking how much is necessary for decent? Have we lost sight of what actually gives us quality in life?
Times are indeed extremely tough. And we have to draw on our deepest resources, not only to meet bills, but more importantly to keep our thinking straight about what really matters. The ethos for families since the 1950s has been to raise the ‘standard of living’ but I do wonder if it’s got to the point where it’s led us to raise our children to expect more and more and more, over and above what we need for health and happiness.
Not only are we less wise about our budgets, maybe we’re less wise about fulfilment too.
We have been conditioned by the commercial and societal hype that promotes buying as happiness or showing love. We have become confused about the difference between need and want. And just because we’re budgeting with money does not necessarily mean our happiness has to be budgeted too.
We have to change our thinking.
Our family has been challenged by very money-tight times over the years. Everything was done extremely economically. But something I noticed happening was that whilst I was taking my money economy to every possible extreme I was also being economical with happiness and love too. And I didn’t have to be.
And that was to do with a state of mind.
We’ve been conditioned nowadays to expect so much and soon feel deprived not having it. But in reality it doesn’t take much to make us feel good. Time with loved ones can do it. A day of sunshine. A smile or a hug. A purposeful activity. Appreciation of all the things we have got rather than the things we haven’t. Good health and mobility.
Basically, your purse might be almost empty but your heart can still be full.
It is what you do and the way you think that fills the heart. And we need to pass that understanding onto our children.
Even better; being very resourceful with our budgets, with our food, our clothes, our facilities and commodities, not only saves us pennies but it saves the ecological impact we have on the planet too. Being resourceful stretches our minds and our thinking, develops intelligence and creativity, makes us increasingly resilient and capable.
It’s a win-win-win situation. And a brilliant message to be handing down the generations. A message that many of us, despite hard economies, in many ways have so much.
Yes! We’ve just done a comprehensive household budget and it does feel good to be more mindful for all the reasons you mentioned. I think sometimes we forget how fortunate we are compared to the rest of the world. Not that there aren’t families who struggle and suffer poverty in the UK, but on a whole, as a society we have so much more than most of the rest of the world. We take it for granted, and in the long run it hasn’t made us any happier – the opposite, in fact! We in the West are less happy now, that we collectively have more, than we were in the 50’s. Have you read Oliver James’ Affluenza?
Thanks Melanie. And Affluenza is something I’ve always meant to read, thanks for reminding me.
No wonder I’ve never got any money – ha ha. I can still laugh though.
Laughter is the best for promoting happiness. x
So right – we should try for a good laugh at least once a day.