The First Step to Happiness

There is an epidemic of unhappiness in this world. We don’t want to talk about it since unhappiness is now called “depression.” Depression is a bad word because it now means that we’re crazy and we need to go talk to a psychiatrist or take some drugs.

The stigma surrounding unhappiness makes it hard to discuss openly. Our current social climate makes it almost dangerous to discuss. So what do we do when we feel the darkness encroaching?

I believe that the things that have been programmed into us by society are the major triggers of unhappiness. We’ve been taught from birth that we have to look a certain way, act a certain way, earn a certain amount of money (more is better), and own a certain type of stuff. It is almost as if they want us to feel bad about ourselves to drive us towards impossible goals or simple insanity.

But we can step off of that hamster wheel. We can begin to change the programming. Maybe if enough of us do it we will even begin to change society as well.

The first step to happiness is related to that.

Honesty.

We have to start being honest with ourselves. We have to admit that there are things that we don’t like, don’t enjoy, or simply can’t afford.

In order to begin making changes to the world we need to be open with our honesty. I’ll begin.

Confession

I have an issue with cooking.

When I would get hungry as a child, there were times when I wanted to fix something on the stove to eat. My mother would be busy taking a nap or watching a television show, so I wouldn’t want to disturb her. I just wanted to toast a cheese sandwich on the stove or whatever.

Whenever I would begin, my mother would attack me. I was going to burn the house down. I was going to dirty the kitchen. I was wasting food. The litany was so horrible that I eventually quit trying.

As a result of that, aside from a few simple dishes my father taught me, I didn’t learn how to cook.

And when I reached adulthood, it showed.

I’ve set the stove on fire. I have burned things beyond recognition. When I tried to correct that, I prepared food that wasn’t near done enough on the inside.

I’ve watched people quietly spit my food out in distaste. I’ve seen them sneak it to the animals or scrape it in the trash. I’ve had people vomit after one of my meals. I even shattered one of my teeth after a particularly desperate attempt.

My lack of cooking skills quickly became legend. I’ve suffered from teasing for decades from people who would try to teach me and fail in the attempt.

While I have gotten to the point where I can make some simple dishes, I cringe at the thought of trying to prepare something new. It appears that I am stuck with the limited repertiore of dishes that my dad taught me as a child.

I am almost fifty years old. If you watch television, that means I should be able to cook like a madwoman, taking almost anything in a pantry to whip up something wholesome and delicious.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This is why I very rarely share recipes on this website or in my books. I am an atrocious cook and I know it.

So it is time to be honest now.

I cannot cook. I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t even have the desire to try. I am content with eating meals out of a can or a box, supplementing with the simple stuff my dad taught me how to prepare. If I want something more substantial I’ll visit a friend’s house to bum a meal or go to a local restaurant.

I am the woman who can tear your computer apart, fix what’s broken, and put it back together. I am the woman who can change the oil in your car without breaking a sweat. I am even the woman who can take wood scraps and build a sturdy porch.

But I am not the woman who knows how to cook.

According to our society, that makes me a failure. Even worse, in the frugality arena where I roam, that makes me a spendthrift since I spend more on eating out than I do on groceries because I happen to like food–I just can’t cook it.

My first step at achieving happiness is to not only be honest about that fact but to share it with the intention of giving the middle finger to a society determined to shove my round peg into the square hole called “cooking.” I no longer enjoy even attempting to cook and I am okay with that. I am who I am; if someone doesn’t like it they can keep out of my life.

This Christmas my daughter will be preparing dinner. I will contribute with a batch of deviled eggs (dad taught me how to make them) but otherwise I will stay out of the kitchen so she can work her culinary magic.

I accept that part of myself so society can kiss my ass. It’s safer for myself and those around me if I leave the cooking to the experts so I intend to do just that.

I have other things I can be honest about as well. I don’t really care what color my walls are or if my decorations all match. I don’t care if my yard is perfectly manicured or my house is spotless. I have many interests in my life but those are not among them.

If society wants to judge me for that, let them. The clock is ticking on my life so I have decided to no longer care. If someone wants to criticize me for my limitations I will drop my pants and show them where they can kiss. Heaven knows I’ve got the real estate back there.

What do you want to be honest about with this coming decade? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you happen to know of someone who doesn’t know how to cook either, instead of criticizing them, why not send them this link so they know that they are not alone? Even better, why not gift them with a visit to their favorite restaurant or cook them a meal? Once they realize that you aren’t making fun of them they will appreciate it immensely.

How Far can $10 go?!?!

There is an assignment on CNN asking users to spend $10 and post pictures of what it bought. 

At first I considered the challenge and then it dawned on me:  Would it not be better to NOT spend that $10 at all?

Think about it:  You can spend that money and it is gone forever, or you can save that money and allow it to make you even more money.

So instead of spending ten bucks I’m going to stash it this weekend.

Can YOU stash ten bucks somewhere this weekend?

Information Costs More than Food?

I just stumbled upon an article saying that we pay more for information than food (dead link)!

You gotta click on the link and check it out — cause for a lot of people he is exactly right!

I know people who have almost all of those things–the internet, the cellphone, the internet on the cellphone, the satellite radio, the satellite television, the DVR (modern TiVo)–even the wireless card for Internet on the go besides the internet they were paying for at home! I read the article and the comments and wanted to laugh!

I pay for a mid-grade DSL connection. That connection is my television thanks to Hulu and other places. It is my phone thanks to MagicJack. It is my radio thanks to Shoutcast. If I want instant replay I just wind back the controller on the page, so I have TiVO as well!

My two cellphones are both prepay, and combined cost $50 every three months to keep active, but we rarely use all of the time we purchase for them. We mainly keep a texting package on them and use that.

I splurge with having two cellphones, but feel safer knowing that my daughter can contact me wherever she is and regardless of where I am. That is a blessing when she is at her father’s house or out playing–or we get separated in a store.

It is cheaper to have the two prepay phones than it is to have even the smallest family plan.

So, no cable, no satellite radio–not even a television or a game machine in this house to pay for XBox live or whatever game is hot these days…

Read the article please, and leave in the comments here how much YOU are paying for information–I would honestly love to know!