Excerpt: 'Lighten Up' By Peter Walsh


That said, our good intentions and renewed values can be undone easily by our ingrained habits and past decisions. Many of us may want to live on less but don't know how, having grown so accustomed to the pre-Recession world, and having attached our whole identities to what we own. We still cling to who we were or how much we had to spend before facing (or ignoring) today's realities, and we can't stop equating being happy with having more. We may secretly fight to keep up appearances while continuing to delude ourselves and let our relationships with loved ones erode because we can't talk to them about money and limitations. So how do we rectify this? How do we heal the great divide in our families and come together as a team to fulfill each other's dreams no matter what the economy throws at us? If you're feeling paralyzed by fear, overwhelmed by your money woes, and paying (figuratively, emotionally, and literally) for your past mistakes, how do you move forward and embrace this new world while you're still carrying all the baggage from the old world? Put simply, How do you live a life of abundance on less? What does that mean? How is this possible—without pretending or feeling that you're being forced to against your will? Can you reclaim a financial life—and be happy—with significantly less?

You know what I'm going to say to that: Yes! Remember what I've always said: it's not about the stuff. Experience has shown again and again that if you focus on "the stuff," you are never going to get to the root cause of a cluttered, unhappy life. I say the same thing about the stuff of money and your financial compass: If you just look at the money (and the credit cards, and interest rates, and rules to retirements accounts, and budgeting formulas, and so on), you will never get at the root of financial distress. If you define yourself by your possessions and financial status, you'll never find peace of mind, lasting contentment, and deep-rooted happiness. You can make spreadsheets, concoct elaborate budgets and spending plans, read the latest personal finance guru's book, or speak with financial advisors until the cows come home. But to truly understand what is happening you have to look at why buying more and acquiring more is so important to you. You have to look at where you're attempting to find happiness and decide whether it's really causing you pleasure or just more pain. It's easy enough to understand the need for change, it's tough to embrace that change in your everyday life. Only then can you get to the heart of your consumption, deal with it in an honest way, and create a vision for the life you want for yourself and your family. Only then can you define who you really are and live up to that person every single day with excitement and pleasure.

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