Monday, February 20, 2012

Thought for today

My favorite cryptograms site just presented me with this interesting quotation from Eric Butterworth (a New Age theologian and minister in the Unity Church, not to be confused with the more mainstream Unitarian Universalist Church):
Prosperity is a way of living and thinking, and not just money or things. Poverty is a way of living and thinking, and not just a lack of money or things.
This is hardly a new idea; in fact, various forms of it have been attributed to many writers and thinkers through the ages. The philosopher Diogenes, for instance, claimed that the key to happiness lay in desiring little, so that you could always have everything you wanted with little effort. According to one story, Diogenes owned nothing but the clothes on his back and a wooden cup, and when he saw another man drinking water out of his hands, he threw away the cup. By his interpretation, this act didn't make him a poorer man; instead, the discovery that it was possible to drink without a cup made him richer, since it gave him the ability to be content with even less. Similar ideas show up in the writings of Lao Tzu, Thoreau, and lots of others, Eastern and Western, ancient and modern.

I'm certainly not as extreme in my own frugal practices as Diogenes. I own a lot more than one suit of clothes—but I am in the process of cleaning out my closet, because I've concluded that I'll be happier with, say, 20 garments that fit and look good than with 40, half of which are uncomfortable or unflattering. I own a house—but I deliberately chose a small house with few amenities, rather than going deeper into debt to own a big, luxurious palace with half the rooms reserved for "special occasions." I haven't attempted to eliminate all my desires—in fact, in a way, I think I'm happier having something to wish for and work for. But I have found that it's a lot easier to get rich by being happy with a small house and a pared-down wardrobe than it is to get rich by earning millions of dollars to satisfy an ever-growing appetite for luxury.
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