Sunday, September 25, 2011

Remembering our riches when we’re broke.

It’s difficult not to think about money at the moment. It’s all over the news, the world seems to have been on the verge of a double dip recession or a depression for the last year or so. I’m not an economist, so I have no idea what the technical definition of a depression or recession is, but I know that petrol prices have moved higher and higher since we arrived in Spain just over a year ago. I know that my grocery bill seems to be more expensive every week even though I’m buying more or less the same stuff.
It’s easy to feel anxious about finances, what to survive on at the end of the month when the visa bill is up to capacity...
The thing is, we’re not poor by any stretch of the imagination. In financial terms we may not have much money at all in the bank and very little at the end of every month, but we have a little money saved. We have a beautiful house even if it does come with a large mortgage, we have two cars and we can afford to feed and clothe ourselves, keep the lights on and have warm showers and the heating on (thankfully not yet).
In other terms we are very rich indeed, we have our own home, two beautiful children. We have our health. We are in love after more than a decade of marriage. Our children are happy at school, they play together well. We have a swimming pool in our back garden for goodness’ sake.
In world economic terms we are rich indeed.
The economies of the world seem to be stumbling around blindly at the moment in the search for growth. Everyone is arguing about the right way to stimulate economic growth. No-one seems to be saying, ok, no more growth; we need to adapt to change. Growth is good; of course, we all want to see our children grow into healthy adults. We’d all like to see our savings grow a little every month. But growth can be negative too, we don’t want to get too big, too greedy because then it’s more difficult to feed the giant that we become. World population continues to escalate but no-one seems to be talking about it. Nobody seems to be thinking about how we can sustain continued population growth.
So what’s the world to do? I have no idea...
In the meantime, we do feel poor some months. It is hard to appreciate what you have got when you see people around you with so much more. The big cars, nice clothes, designer shades. It is human nature, apparently, to compare ourselves ‘up’ with people who are achieving more. Part of the survival instinct perhaps, survival of the fittest. What we have to do deliberately, is recognise the riches that we do have in our life. They may seem small and insignificant sometimes, a home, a car, a partner, but they are enormous riches.
So time to remember that we are not starving, we are not fleeing war. Our neighbours are not our enemies. We live in a country with statehood. We are not being attacked by guns and bombs. Our children are not threatened with starvation; they have been inoculated against disease. They go to school. We have jobs, we are not homeless.
Sometimes we have to remember to thank the universe for what we have.

Ok, enough of the serious stuff...
So, how do we cope with the world financial crisis, feeling poor and depressed? I don't know, well actually I do know, put on some loud music, dance with the kids and drink at least half a bottle of red wine...just done my state of mind a lot of good, can recommend any time!

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