“The key to eternal happiness is low overhead and no debt.”
Bread is baking and I am writing, what else could a girl ask for?
I’d like to add an addition to Lynda Barry’s quote above. The key to low overhead is low expectations for happiness. I don’t mean that we should not expect to be happy, only that we should not expect to have to spend a lot of money to do so. In Your Money or Your Life, Dominguez and Robin give an example of the difference between hedonism and frugality. A hedonist might drink the juice of eight oranges before sitting down to a cornucopic breakfast. A frugal person might eat a single orange, but savor every sensation from the tactile satisfaction of peeling the orange in one strand to the slight spray of juice as she pulls apart the sections to the flavor and texture of each piece. Even the shimmery, slightly sticky dust that coats her fingers afterward can be a source of pleasure.
I read this quote on Austin Kleon’s site, which I caught up on this weekend. He also advises doing what you love (specifically writing) for two hours each morning before going to work. That way, no matter how shitty the job, they can’t take away what you love because you’ve already done it. I have a great job, but I still love the advice. I interpret it as “live the life you want for two hours every morning and then go on to do whatever your ‘real life’ requires of you.” I have a great job right now, and I am really happy with it, but I still would rather be hanging out at home, reading, writing and making things. For two hours this morning, I am doing those things. And though I don’t get to do them all day, and I won’t have time to do them this evening, I’ve still done them. I’ve still lived my perfect life for two hours today.
Low overhead and no debt leads to happiness automatically because you’re not stressed for money. That in turn means you need less money to be happy. Why would you need to buy something and increase your overhead when you’re already happy? You don’t! Happiness begets happiness. Frugality begets frugality.