I have friends who have lost the majority of their savings and/or 401K. I have friends who have lost their jobs. I have friends who have lost their desire to follow the news (well, other than the celebrity gossip blogs) because they swear it is causing them a chemical imbalance that will require treatment antidepressants that are not covered by their HMO's formulary. The times of late do not just seem difficult; they seem downright Dickensonian. In fact, many of my peers might lobby adamantly that it is said "worst of times..."
I happen to disagree. Falling into the category of young, intelligent, savvy professionals who feels "economically-challenged" as of late, I cannot help but recall the most financially-challenging time of my life - namely graduate school. Picture this: North Carolina, $10/day budget, and book per day grad-school diet. What should have been a portrait of misery was actually an amazing experience in building a castle from a cardboard box. While we led very frugal lifestyles, there are lessons to be learned from a different memory the time here. Very early one Sunday, my roommate dragged me to essentially a "free" version of St. Vincent's...people came in to "shop" for items at a church that were donated, but the items where provided at zero cost. In the three hungover hours I worked the store, I met characters that were anything but Dickensonian. In actuality, the women rifling through the used lipsticks smiled more than some of my most "privileged"friends, and the men asking for fashion advice when comparing flannel to flannel seemed so much more open and kind than most men I had ever known.
Individuals with little to no money, laughing, smiling, and kind - how was this possible? Where were the clouds of gloom that should cover their faces? Why were they not throwing elbows in a Darwinian fit to get the best offerings at the store? Where was the misanthropy, the misplaced blame of circumstances, the sadness of economic woes?
I suggest that these people were in touch with something many of us have lost. Circumstances are sometimes, sadly, beyond our control. The good news is our attitude is not.
The best of times is a mindset away...
Recessionista Tip of the Day: To help keep the positive spirit alive and kicking, as well as your body in prime shape, exercise is a great aid during tough times. Walk or run outside, put on your Rollerblades, or, if you have an extra $75 and live in a major US city, check out the Passbook (up to 600 free passes to health clubs and classes all over your city!) You can purchase one at http://www.health-fitness.org/ny.html