Saturday, January 30

Standing Back Up After A Life Crash

Did This Happen To Your Life?Is this what happened to your life during the recent financial crisis? No, I'm afraid I'm not being funny. Many millions of families have been and continue to live through incredible turmoil.

While this current crisis didn't slam me into a wall I have been there. This is why people are searching for topics in this blog so often. Notably, stealth living and stealth van living both show up in my traffic reports as common queries. Also, posts about extremely frugal meals are in much higher demand than they once were.

With that as the backdrop I want to talk about something a little bit more optimistic. Apparently, according to the economic numbers, we are at or near bottom with respect to unemployment. Yes, this is optimistic, because it means the next direction is up. More and more people will be able to find jobs, find self-esteem, feed their families, and rebuild their hopes and dreams for their children one step at a time.

What I want to talk about is the process of standing back up.

You see, what I notice a lot these days is anger. People are mad at what has happened to them -- which is understandable. However, if you spend any time watching the news, reading blogs, or following financial sites you will see that many people are flailing about for someone to blame. They are convinced that the financial system must be completely crooked. They are convinced the stock markets must be fixed. They are convinced that someone is at fault for their ills.

After all, surely nothing other than criminals and a huge conspiracy to fleece the public must be behind their downfall.

I'm sorry, but that's not how it is. Sure, bad decisions were made. There are plenty of things that were done poorly, by many different players, but we have to recognize that bad things happen to good people sometimes. There isn't always someone to blame. This is true both for natural disasters as well as for man-made disasters. It's not on purpose. It's something that we all got caught in.

Why I am focusing on this?

Those people who have suffered through no fault of their own, and are casting about for someone or something to blame, who are so negative and jaded, are broken. Life sucks. The world is out to get them. Everybody is a crook. They'll never be taken in again because there is nothing they will ever trust!

How in the world can somebody with this viewpoint begin to fit into society productively? You can't expect to be hired, to spread your misery and discontent, to wreak havoc on the motivation and productivity of your peers while you are in this state.

I'm serious. Blatant pessimism, dejection, hostility and depression are not hallmarks of successful job applicants. Would you hire someone in this state? If you are single would you let someone in this state into your life?

If you are one of these disaffected people I do have some advice. Speaking from experience I can tell you that as long as you continue to have food and shelter then there are many good things to reflect on. Focus on the good aspects of what you do still have in your life not the lack of things you used to have.

I know it's easy to say "so what" and dismiss the simple things but they are always there. Most of us have forgotten that we can enjoy them.

Fresh clean snow. Crisp cool air. Colorful leaves on trees. A big full moon. A left over newspaper with all of its sections. The return of grass and leaves in the spring. A good blog. A scenic vista and the time to enjoy it. Home cooked healthy frugal food. Exercise and the benefits of it.

I don't know what brings you pleasure and relaxation. I do know it's hard to give up the bitterness that comes from a life crash. However, to get back into the groove, to re-enter the race, you need to find a way to stop focusing on how unhappy you are and instead focus on the positives that are still available to you. All the rest? Let it go.

It's hard. It's damned hard. It's also one of the most important thing you can do to let yourself be swept up by the pending recovery. Don't let yourself push opportunity away... be ready to accept it.

Frugal Guy said...
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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have some great ideas but, never ever sacrifice your health. It is priceless.

Frugal Guy said...

Hi Anon, thanks for the note, I'd have to agree.

I hope I didn't write anything that would suggest one should sacrifice their health?

The Cottage at Stony Oak said...

Thanks for the good words. My family and I have been blessed not to feel the effects of the crash. But I see it with people I come in contact with every day. And this Fall, when I try to get a teaching job, I know things will get tight. But I trust. And I hope. Not to mention I'm still rich - so many people in other countries live with so much less.

You remind me that to use what we have, and use it well, is to be thankful AND wise.

Frugal Guy said...

Cottage, thanks for your comment. Hopefully things will be a bit better by fall.

Rojo said...

Very good advice. I see one factor that you didn't mention as being a big player in this... whatever it is we are in now. GREED, not only at the top but all the way to the bottom. Not just keeping up with the Joneses but trying being the Joneses.

You may call yourself Frugal, I call you smart. The sooner people learn to live smart the sooner wrecks like this wont happen.
Rojo
http://rojos-ramblings.blogspot.com/

Frugal Guy said...

Rojo,

I certainly do agree that greed played a large role in bringing us to this point.

While that's true there are certainly people losing jobs, homes and so forth even if they weren't greedy themselves.

I guess if you were being greedy at least you would already know who to blame... ;)

Thanks for the note.

Anonymous said...

We have crashed and with only one driver in the set now at a low rate of pay it is rough! But I have hope that it will turn around soon.

Anonymous said...

We have a new member on our all-volunteer town energy committee who joined after she lost her (totally unrelated) job to the recession. Instead of becoming bitter or focusing on how lousy the economy is, she chose to use all the time suddenly available to her to give back to the community and learn about an entirely new field (alternative energy) which had always intrigued her but she never had the time to come up to speed on.

Because she is now affiliated with the town (even though not paid, committee members are still considered special employees and are sworn in just like any other town employee), she (we all) get to attend lots of free educational forums and meet lots of movers and shakers in this new field. All she needs to invest is time, which she suddenly has plenty of.

When the economy finally improves and energy prices start to spike once again, not only will she have something intriguing to list on her resume, but she will have an entirely new set of job skills without having paid to go to college and also proven herself to people who can give good recommendations to potential employers.

If you have lost your job and have more time than money, why not volunteer to a worthy cause? It will fill your days, you'll meet new friends and learn new skills, you'll feel better because you helped somebody else, and if you volunteer with an established agency such as a town or, for example, the Red Cross, you'll pick up a respectable amount of formal training that would otherwise cost a lot of money for free.

Frugal Guy said...

Anon,

Thanks for posting that excellent advice.

I know different people have different abilities with respect to weathering a downturn and for very many that is a fantastic way to spend the time.

Kate said...

What a great post. I just discovered you through a friends link. I think it is always really important to remember all the good things we do have and appreciate them.

Kate xx

Judi @ Frugal Frolic said...

With no job after 14 months, it's pretty hard for our family to "stand up", but we are trying! I'm very active at my sons' schools. Both my husband and I have just graduated 8 Webelos to Boy Scouts. These are rewarding and worthwhile endeavors.

Even so, it's hard not to feel down and despair that things will never get better. Our current efforts are to focus on some new ways to make ends meet -- planting a garden, selling things on Craigslist and ebay, and my husband is looking for some independent work. And, of course, we are continuing to supports the schools and Scouts the best we can. We're looking for opportunities where we never looked before. And we're considering options we never thought we would consider. I'm not sure how it will all turn out, but we have certainly learned, and will continue to learn as we go. I just hope it's enough!

Anonymous said...

I have gone thru more lean times then I can remember. I was born to be frugal and I see the injustice in the housing market, the banking and insurance industries, wages, hiring practices. I know I fell into some deep mental funks trying to make my way alone in this world. You are only human when you fall into a pit of despair but it is your responsibility to hang in there and find some strength and faith.
Everybody hang in there and find kindred spirits who will accompany you as we all find our way.
Be the master of your health! Learn all you can about holistic healing and self care.

Frugal Guy said...

Kate,

Thanks for the note. You've got an awesome blog -- I hope you can keep your identity secret!

Judi,

It's great to support scouts and I hope it isn't getting in the way of having time to do an odd job here and there -- I'm hoping people you give time to keep you in mind too.

Anon,

Stay away from the funk! :) Seriously though, people don't want to be brought down all the time, so even when times are bad we need to find a way to be a positive influence on situations around us.

cmdweb said...

I think the global effects of recession in the last few years are forcing many people to live a more frugal life, but also to understand what's important in their lives from a family versus work standpoint.

Frugal Guy said...

cmdweb,

I hope so. I think we need to step back from the wild consumerism and "more is always better" mindset.

Heck, the large range of bad mindsets that we've adopted over the years is probably food for another blog post.