“And so here we are again. Today the bank of England has warned lenders that they’re putting themselves at risk, through the amounts they’re lending, as personal debt is on the rise again.”
It’s estimated the average UK borrower now has a level of personal debt to the tune of £30,000. Car finance has reached unprecedented levels, and it’s estimated over eight million people are now dependent on credit, just to get by. From food to rent, without credit, these eight million people would potentially go hungry and homeless. Should we worry about debt? No, we shouldn’t worry about the debt. What we do need to worry about though – or at the very least really start thinking about – is why so many of us are falling into this situation again.
The answer to why, is something many of us could easily find: we’re living beyond our means spending to find happiness. It’s the vicious cycle of needing to spend to find happiness, only to then find unhappiness due to how hard we need to work, just to maintain the debt. Once again lenders have us all by the balls, or if you want to look at it another way, gender-neutral, nipple clamps.
This vicious cycle is of course driven by excessive consumerism. I know that I’m running the risk of sounding boring by going over this ground again, however, someone somewhere may gain the advantage through reading this: STOP LIVING BEYOND YOUR FUCKING MEANS!
Yes, I used to do the very same thing, and I know why: I was a desperately lonely drunk, who was not only addicted to the booze, but also spending money to buy the things, I believed, would help me feel powerful and happy. In the long term, all the booze and possessions did, was prove to me how drunk and lonely I was. And of course, in the end, broke.
It’s about taking a long hard look at what methods we’re using to find happiness, or at the very least, some escape from our unhappiness. We could tackle this by asking ourselves: how is it we’re unhappy? Or we could address what we need to do to find happiness, that doesn’t cost us more, than we actually earn. I feel the best method is is to deal with both.
Firstly happiness is of course relative: what makes one person happy would potentially have no bearing on someone else. Bird watching or golf might bore the tits of you for example, whereas partying at festivals, might really get your juices flowing. Perhaps age has a lot to do with these kinds of preferences, and yet true happiness, has potentially nothing to do with how we spend our free time. True happiness must have more to do with our predominate state of mind that manifests through adopting a more creative lifestyle, that cost little.
A sense of contentment, I believe, has a lot to do with happiness. You know, things like: a stable home environment, loving relationships, and work we find tolerable, or even enjoyable at times, must help build this feeling of contentment.
Also a positive mental attitude surely goes a long way to helping us feel happy. The kind of attitude that helps us see the pleasant side of any job, or mind state that enables us to tolerate those things we dislike in life, must be important. When it comes to asking: how do we do our unhappiness? Or: How do I find unhappiness? This must have a lot to do with our (too high) expectations of life, and perhaps lack of stability, healthy relationships and love etc, etc; all the opposites of contentment I suppose.
We spend to find some kind of reward for the unhappiness we’re experiencing in life. We’re creating our unhappiness through our discontentment. We need the possessions everyone else has – as we buy into the illusion sold by the media – that they’re happy and powerful (and yes we all need to turn the fucking TV off!). And so, ultimately, the more debt we have, the greater our sense of being trapped and discontented, and so the cycle goes on.
The cure, as you might have already guessed, is discomfort. Yes, that’s right, the cure is the discomfort we’re likely to feel at the transition from the illusions of our childish expectations, to the grown up realities of life. These grown-up realities are all about recognising how we do unhappiness. How are we keeping ourselves trapped in the vicious loops that ultimately make us feel unhappy? What must we recognise about our lives, and what’s lacking from them, so we may step out of the excessive consumption loop?
Even though these realities may make us feel briefly uncomfortable, the long term goal, will be reached. The long term goal is the ability to separate ourselves from the illusions we harbour – that help us avoid the harsh realities of life. When we embrace discomfort we will fully realise true happiness. The happiness we currently seek is only a form of avoidance. We cannot avoid the truth for ever, in the end, it always catches up with us. Face the truth and of course we set ourselves free.