Reframing Envy

Monday, I shared some ideas about searching for the underlying need.

Most of us spin our wheels for YEARS before we wise up, usually after a major crisis, and decide to drop the external BS that rules our lives. A divorce 20 years ago nudged me in a better direction.

Still… my time in finance always left me desiring more – more money, more stuff, more financial success. When I slid over to athletics, those feelings followed me – more victories, more performance, more speed.

Under a constant barrage of “more” – both external and internal – How does one cope with the realties of a more modest existence?

I once got to fly on a private jet, it was wonderful. My host single handedly changed my opinion of the UltraRich => such a great guy.

My advice to “live where you don’t need to leave” is a coping strategy to free myself from a desire to live like Mick Jagger.

Put another way, I looked deeply into a well adjusted billionaire’s life and saw… there is no “more” to be had. Once I sorted my cash flow, I could access the best parts of his life for a fraction of the cost.

COVID drove this lesson home. Live your best life, with your family, under one roof. 11 months and counting!

The last few years, we’ve spent a lot of time in Vail. In a ski town, most everybody likes to know what you do, and where you live.

So Gordo, what else do you do beside ski?

Weights, Paul. If you want to rip the bumps then you gotta hit the weights.

My wife got a huge chuckle with that reply. The possibility of another layer to that question didn’t brush my consciousness.

Coping by redefining the game.

Spending a lot of time in the mountains, brings back the urge to own multiple properties.

When cycling was a central part of my life, I owned property in Arizona. It was my way to hang onto my pre-kids life of switching hemispheres in an endless summer.

Can you see what I was doing? Buying an asset to hold onto an illusion.

The illusion that my life would be better with more assets never leaves. The dream persists alongside the knowledge that the assets will lie idle, cost money and generate admin.

In my first career in finance, our firm had access to money. Lots of money!

When you have access to money people want to be your friend. A favorite quote from my well adjusted buddy with the jet…

I’ve got enough friends.

Related, “When is five “likes” better than five thousand?”

When you deeply understand the nature of external approval. Both what it does to you, and who is doing the approving.

The bold words are reminders to avoid the false gods of financial wealth. Specifically, to be wary of the temptation to follow my greedy impulses for no true benefit.

Get the cash burn down, address the underlying need and let envy float away.

Family Mantras

In my life, focusing on the faults of others is always a reminder to look inwards. For when I’m struggling with myself, I start to look outwards for easier targets! My article on creeping clutter was triggered by catching myself wishing my wife would clean up the kitchen.

There is a lot of anger in the world outside my home. Even inside, the minds of preschoolers are churning with strong emotions.

I’ve been able to modify my own sources of greed, envy and anger. I do this through awareness of three truths:

  • We’ve already won
  • We have more than we need
  • I don’t need to be right, I want to be at peace

When I see the truth in these mantras, I remove the seeds of greed, anger and envy. If these seeds grow then we can end up disgraced, or in prison. Theft, fraud, infidelity, anger and unhappiness have their root in a desire for more.

As I roll through my day, I am on the lookout for examples of how we’ve won, how we have more than we need and how serenity benefits the family.

A friend observed that having the opportunity to argue shows how lucky we are. Debate is a sign of affluence. When faced with an argument, he sees a person that is lucky to have the time to make themselves unhappy!

From the outside, it can appear that I spend a lot of time focused on the risk of negative outcomes. However, from the inside, I find it helpful to remember that my time is limited. To my family, I say…

Whatever happens, remember this – I had a fantastic life and loved you very much.

What’s your family mantra?