Note: While this post has been in my head for awhile, I was inspired today after reading a post by Bob over at Satisfying Retirement about positivity-in retirement and elsewhere.
Along time ago (in a blog post that apparently vanished) I wrote here about positive and negative frugality. In that post, I said that we could deal with the hands we are dealt in one of two ways. The first way is look at our current situation as a challenge. In other words, we can work to find fun and creative financial solutions when we have less money than we expected. The second way is to blame congress, the government, the guy on the corner and life in general. Rarely can we do both and come out ahead.
In my life, I've tried to look at my financial situation (as well as other situations) as a challenge. I've treated it like a game, looking for creative alternatives to keep my life as rich and varied as I wanted with about half the income (and one less spouse) than I expected. Sometimes I fail, most of the time I succeed. Many times I succeed by making choices and substitutions. Rather than look at those choices and substitutions as second best, I look at them as original ideas and alternatives.
When I wrote that article, I got lots of feedback-most of it positive. There were critics, obviously. Generally the criticism was that I didn't live in the real world, or that I didn't "understand" what was going on. To the first my answer was simple-I went from a living spouse with a close to six figure income to no spouse and living on social security/pension. Admittedly much of my current financial situation can be paid at my own feet. That doesn't make the reality any less, well "real". As for the second, I'm a well read woman who is not unaware of what is happening in the US and in the world. On the contrary, after having been an ex-pat for so many years I probably have a better grasp on much of the rest of the world.
I simply believe that positive energy is better (and often stronger) than negative energy. I also believe that positivity begets positivity, for lack of a better phrase. Last but not least, I believe that in most areas of life, actions are more important than words. I say this as someone who tries to write once and a while and appreciates good words.
When it comes to frugality and managing our money, I try to look at being frugal as a chance to be creative. I could look at my life as of one of deprivation. I choose to look at the things I CAN afford, and CAN do with my life. Can I go on a cruise right now? No. Can I take a lovely road trip across the gulf cost from Texas to Florida? I can. Can I eat out every weekend? Unfortunately not. Instead I enjoy a true gourmet meal a few times a year and explore gourmet cooking. I really cannot afford new Christmas centerpieces, but I can make my own from stuff on hand.
Positivity for me is about what I CAN do, what I CAN make and actions I CAN take. This is not only true in my own life. There are American and world wide issues I feel strongly about. If I care about poverty, I can volunteer to feed and help others.
In the article mentioned above over at Satisfying Retirement, Bob mentions some solutions he has taken to reduce negativity in his life. While I have not and never will give up cable (unlike Bob I find many uplifting and well made shows), I do generally surround myself with positive people. I also do not argue politics with friends (I'm a liberal living in an ultra red state). I watch the news but avoid all the magazine shows and Fox news. I remind myself that in terms of the world, I'm still more wealthy than the 98 percent, and that I am lucky to live in the so called "western world". When there is something I want, I look at what I have. And when in doubt, I remember that I can have everything I want. I simply cannot have it all at the same time.
I'm not really Pollyanna, I promise. I know that the world is less than perfect. I realize that we all have challenges, in retirement and in life. However, I would much rather look at the glass of life as half full, rather than half empty.