Or, just anticipating a better future? These are some of the emotions that children may be experiencing on Halloween. They may anticipate the stash of Halloween candy that they will receive. When they are collecting the candy, they are usually happy and content. Then after they compare what they received to others, they may feel disappointed that they missed the good houses with the big candy bars. These are similar emotions to what you may are feeling about your finances. So, what can we learn about finances by seeing what children go through on Halloween?
The key to a fun Halloween is being happy and content in the holiday itself. In other words, do not get too involved in anticipating the future or disappointed about the past. Unfortunately, children (like adults) tend to live more in the past or the future than enjoying the present. If you ask a teacher what is on children’s minds on the day before and day after Halloween, it is not on school.
There is a saying, the past is history, the future is a fantasy and the present is a gift and thus the reason it is called the present. Yet, how often do we experience the joy of the present moment. If you think about it, as a society, we tend to live our lives 50% thinking about the past, 30% thinking about the future and 20% of the time in the present. Yet, if we really want to enjoy life, the mix would be more like 15% thinking about the past (learning the lessons we need), 15% thinking about the future (goal setting and planning) and 70% in the present.
Many emotions that we feel and thoughts we think are about the past. Even though we feel many emotions such as disappointment, shame, guilt, etc., we should not constantly live our lives based on these emotions. For example, we may be disappointed that we did not get a raise, yet the event is in the past. By living in the past (the disappointment), we lose site of what is needed to be done in the present to get the raise the next time around. We as a society are usually more focused on blaming companies for their greed for not giving raises but increasing prices versus what we can do about it (rather than just passing the cost onto our credit card debt). We are also focused on what we should have done in the past, like going to college or taking the other job opportunity. Then we obsess about what we should have said or done during the day (e.g., if I just have said this instead of that what would have happened). There is a reason why we only have 1 history class a day in school. History is good to learn from, yet there is a point of analysis paralysis.
There are other emotions like fear/worry or anticipation that is based on the future. Note, anticipation is not really an emotion, rather usually a waiting on a better emotional state than you are currently (I will be happy when …). There are times where looking forward is good for setting goals and direction that you want to go in. Yet, if we constantly look forward towards how things are going to get better, we may never get to where we want to go. This is because if we are waiting to be happy, we believe that an outside event is the determinant of whether we are happy or not rather than an internal decision. For others waiting to retire for their peace and joy, they may not end up reaching their retirement due to health condition. For some children, looking forward to Christmas (as the end all be all of getting presents) can lead to disappointment if they do not get what they dreamed off. When we tend to build up a future event, we get disappointed if the event does not measure up to our expectations. Thus, happiness continues to elude us.
Lastly, when you are anticipating the future, you are not participating 100% in the present taking care of business at hand. For myself, I am looking forward to The Ohio State Buckeyes playing Michigan on November 18th. In the excitement, I am reading all that I can about the pre-game analysis. In looking at all the message boards, it is robbing me of time that I could be writing my blog. Some mindless anticipation is fun and a good break, yet sometimes it goes too far in distracting us from what needs to be done in the present.
So where is your energy with your finances?
• In the past
Are you beating yourself up for past mistakes (e.g., credit card debt)?
Are you regretting not investing in a stock or getting a college degree?
Are you thinking about what you should have done?
Are you blaming a company for raising their prices while not giving you a raise or promotion?
• In the future
Are you anticipating your retirement?
Are you worried about sending your children to college?
Are you stressed about how you will pay your mortgage?
Are you wondering when your car will break down next?
Are you giving 110% effort to work during working hours?
Are you grateful for what you have?
Do you enjoy giving and receiving money?
Are you happy?
If you are relating to more about the past and future, think about switching your attention to the present. In the present is where the “gift” is because love, joy and happiness are only experienced in the here and now. So when you send your children out trick or treating tomorrow, remember that their joy is in that moment.