Someones Pursuit of Happiness?
THE.PAST: "Happiness, snappyness! Remember all of those problems you have had, you will have them again! Losses, humiliations, wrong choices are you had some good times but remember all those testing times!"

THE.PRESENT: "Happiness is it watching reality TV with a bowl of fries and a bucket of cola or is it walking in the mountains, seeing the arrival of your first born? Whatever it is live now, live free, live life!"

THE.FUTURE: "I'm gonna get you CONTENDER, no matter what you do I'm gonna get ya be  afraid very afraid. Stay where you are don't get.in.the.ring.with.me stay with a 9-5 job. Top up your pension and make sure you spend more that you salary. Debt is good. Yeah man don't plan for the future happiness is debt, happiness is working hard to pay the bills, happiness is long hours in work then you can have you shiny toys, crates of beer and lot and lots of vices. Bring it on!!"

THE.CONTENDER: "Geez what in the hell could happiness look, feel, smell, be like? I'm not sure these guys have hit the nail on the head what should I do?"

What is Happiness Anyway?

First up - your author has no idea - FACT! Here are a quotes are they just as clueless?
"The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase: if you pursue happiness you'll never find it." Carrie P. Snow

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson
“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” Dalai Lama XIV
“Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” Guillaume Apollinaire
It is easy to see there is no consensus from the few quotes above. Happiness is not a science based on facts and figures, something quantifiable, it is something more ethereal like a religion.. From what THE.CONTENDER can gather happiness is what comes from within. It is hugely personal, built on current circumstances and needs for the individual or family.

So is this a pointless post on our tribes personal guidelines for happiness? If happiness is a unique, unquantifiable, very personal goal, is there any point in sharing some of our ideas? Perhaps a better way of looking at the list is to see it as a set of guidelines to help us to reflect on life, build relationships and be positive and optimistic people who tackle challenges head on. Is this our idea of happiness or a desired way of living - are they the same thing. Again who knows but here goes:
  1. Always turn things into a positive or a challenge to be overcome - THE.FUTURE throws all types of obstacles in our way (most of them are probably self inflicted). There have been numerous times where THE.CONTENDER has messed up in work (or at home Mrs C points out) but perseverance to make things right and better won out. THE.CONTENDER actually learnt something from the experience.

    Happiness in adversity anyone? Any hard knock we receive will be seen as an opportunity. We will enjoy the satisfaction of turning a difficult position into a winning one. Everyone like to win once in a while ;)
  2. Life is too short to dwell on THE.PAST - Learn and move on the past is a wonderful nagging voice in the back of the mind. It is there to remind us of past mistakes so we do not do them again. We almost have to pull out the good stuff while the bad stuff surfaces from the subconscious without asking.

    THE.CONTENDER speaking to THE.PAST: "OK I know what do do this time now sod off!"
  3. Enjoy THE.PRESENT - this is where we exist, we love, laugh, taste, feel and see the world we live in.
  4. There is no time for idle gossip, comparisons, opinions etc about other people OR "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"- Matthew 7:12 the Bible

    We live in a world where media encourages judgmental and snap opinions whether it is reality TV, how to dress cool (or not) who is a geek. Being able to control a desire not to gossip, compare or judge is very difficult.

    We would be lying if we have not criticized celebrity behavior and questioned ourselves about keeping up with the Jones. Likewise we have discussed and admired other people courage and achievements.

    All of this is a complete waste of time the only people we need to be concerned about are within our own little tribe. If only THE.CONTENDER could master it ;o)
  5. Be proactive in everything we do - Not seen a friend for a while? pick up the phone. Always wanted to learn a musical instrument? go to the music shop today. Never taken the kids to the zoo.... hopefully this is a reflection of some of the things that can easily be put off. They are not immediate concerns such as a leaking pipe or that email from the boss.

    Do you have something to do?  We add it to our to-do list and ask ourselves what is stopping us from STARTING it NOW and then try to do it!

    Unfortunately tomorrow never comes go back and embrace Guideline#3.
  6. Slow down - Life can be so hectic. What about that time for yourself just sitting outside on a hot summer night looking up at the stars and pondering the universe or maybe stopping at the side of a road to admire the view  - we will get to where we are going but what's the rush?

    Making time to be together as a family is very important for us. Work is meant to be 9-5 we aim to keep it that way. If something encroaches on the end of the work day we ask - is it really, really important or can it wait until the following day? Do we really want to sacrifice being at home for the evening meal with the kids which means so much to them?

    What about us adults? We need time together without the kids. Time to talking about us and to visit friends. It is amazing how fast time flies and enjoyable it is compared to a movie or some other form of entertainment.

    In these time is easy to talk about THE.FUTURE (guilty as charged!) but these are the times to max out the enjoyment of THE.PRESENT in the adult world.
  7. Help someone or something - Isn't it great helping someone else? Perhaps it is an anonymous gift, helping your child to learn how to ride a bike. Being there for someone when they want to talk about a problem - "a problem shared is a problem halved". Unconditional help is a wonderful gift that humans have been blessed with. 

    Alternatively we can help an injured animal or clean up our local environment so everyone around us can enjoy it too.
  8. Put things into perspective - THE.PRESENT: "The economy is terrible. I am worse off. My standard of living is dropping".

    Hang on a minute! Our standard of living has been rising dramatically for centuries. We are incredibly materially better off. Health care is promising advances to extend lifespan to a "normal" 100+ years. 

    Additionally in THE.PRESENT there is always be someone who has more money than you, better looking, fitter, more amusing, more friends - one word for this ENVY. Again what a waste of time. Will more money, plastic surgery and a life coach really make us a better happier human being - it is definitely something lost on us but each person to themselves see Guideline #4

    We want to be the most genuine best people we can. Take us at face value with all the imperfections, character defects and nuances - but this is who we are!

  9. Look after the body as well as the mind -Not doing enough here at the moment either! We firmly believe that a route to happiness is a healthy body. So exercise, diet and a clean natural environment are towards the top of our to-do list.

  10. Search for Meaning - The odds on THE.CONTENDER getting this far are astronomical there is no need to go through our family tree, just considering the odds of the Earth being in the right spot around the right sun are high enough. Boy is THE.C lucky!

    "You lucky b****** CONTENDER , lucky to be here, lucky to square up to me, but what are you really going to do CONTENDER? Are you just another punk I take to the cleaners and brush under the carpet or do you have a real purpose?

    Perhaps CONTENDER's meaning will never be known. I want to mean a lot to my family. I want to leave a productive life. I want to look back and not say "I wish I had done that" doh!
So there you have it 10 guidelines / principles we are aiming to re-enforce as a family. We aren't there yet and it will be trying for us to follow them. Will they change in the future; undoubtedly but hopefully the 10 core ideas above will remain and the list will grow.

Are they part of pursuing happiness, are they even right for our tribe? We don't know but we are giving them a try and lets see what happens to us down the years, folly, fantasy or right on the nose for that knockout blow to THE.FUTURE.

A better future for the kids?

Humans have a natural tendency to improve their environment and desire for their children to have a "better" life than their own. At the same time do we really spend enough time on what really makes us happy?

Do we spend too much time working, commuting and distracting ourselves? Perhaps we need some of these distractions they provide. Work provides a degree of meaning to life and the all important paycheck that we need to fuel or existence in a degree of comfort. Entertainment provides distraction and escape from the challenges of everyday life. So is happiness obtaining the right balance?

A Challenge

Why not take thirty minutes, go somewhere quiet and think about what really makes you happy and what is stopping you from getting there?

This old man knew a thing or two but so have a lot of people down the years:
Seven Deadly Sins
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.”
Mahatma Gandhi
Peace and the pursuit of happiness


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Are you planning for financial independence and wondering what to do with it. If so is any of the content on this blog of use to you? I would appreciate any comments you have. All the best C

Welcome to FISH !
You have come here looking for answers. How to get out of debt? How to save and invest? How to retire early and how you want to live in retirement.

Well this is the right place for you as out tribe has been through all of these steps. We no longer work for a corporate employer and have saved enough to retire early. How we did this is shared here on this site for you.

Our little tribe found out these secrets to financial independence in our late 20’s. Since then we have taken early retirement, in our late 30's, in just 7 years. We now live in the South West of France with our two young children.

Along the way I decided to share everything I learnt. My articles and tips on aggressive saving and compound investing are there to help you meet your financial goals fast. I discuss ways to help you decide what you want by building a life plan. This helps to work out how to get where you want to be whilst avoiding the pitfalls along the way.

My expertise was built up working in blue chip corporate jobs, extensive reading and putting it into practice. I have condensed this knowledge into simple strategies to help you meet your goals and not those of the bank or the place you work.

There are free planning tools on this site that help you make a life plan. A plan for your future. The tools calculate how to reach your financial goals in a timeline that suits you. The tools help set out your life goals, make them happen and how to exceed them.

There are tips on how to simplifying your life to remove day to day headaches. These include ways to pay off debt fast buy eliminating wasteful spending habits. How to reduce your monthly bills through choices that actually improve your health and wellbeing. Identifying things you don’t need that sap your time and wallet.

There are little sustainability projects to reduce your dependence on shops and utilities whilst saving money to spend on things you want.

All of these little steps will show you how save 50%+ of your salary so you can meet your goal whatever it is. This huge saving rate can be compounded for very early retirement. I am sure you will find something here for you.

Darren Lee (A.K.A the Contender as in my blog)