All this talk and thought of money brings up the subject of quality of life. After all, why do I want money anyway? So I can live a certain way.
Beyond the basics of having enough to eat and a safe home etc. what are the things I need in my life to feel that sense of "Yeah! Can life get any better?!" ? I actually know the answer to this because I said that very thing one morning and managed to sustain that feeling for a few years.
So here goes...
When my weight is low, my muscles are lean and toned, when I can sprint up and down steps without getting winded, and can lift boxes and move furniture without help... I look good and I feel good. I don't get headaches or backaches or grumpy aches. When I eat leafy greens and berries and veggies the colors of the rainbow, when I eat brown rice and slow cooked oatmeal and indulge in wild salmon once in a while... my hair and my skin and my smile glow. Oh yes, I need my health.
I am a very visual person. The forms and shapes and colors around me can turn me off or turn me on. I need beauty in my home. The intensity of the light, the harmony of the colors, the balance of the forms, the exquisite beauty in the order of things. I can sit for two hours on my living room couch completely blissed out by the arrangement of the things around me. An no, none of them were at all expensive. So, surrounding myself with beauty is lovely. It's like those auditory musician types listening to a symphony or gustatory wine connoisseurs on a winery tour.
How I spend my time is extremely important to me. I have found that I need the following components in my work in order to feel that odd and perfect mixture of contentment and exhilaration.
Optimal level of intellectual challenge: When my skills and the demands of the task at hand are perfectly matched about half the time. The other half of the time the demands should be just a little beyond my reach so I have to learn, stretch, and grow.
Service or contribution: I need my work to make a difference in the wider world. It doesn't have to make a huge difference, just as long as it goes beyond me and my small circle.
Yes, I am an introvert. Not excessively so, but enough that the constant company of others begins to rattle my brain a little. I need quiet time alone to reflect on my day or to simply not think at all. Some people call it meditation. I have never engaged in formal meditation but I naturally find myself slipping into a still, restful state of awareness when I give myself the time and remove myself from the buzz of activity. This means I have to make sure I don't over-schedule my day.
Can't live without love. Life without love is a deathly life. So say I. I need a certain level of love in my relationships but to reach the state I mentioned at the beginning of this post I need something special. This is the kind of love that feels so big no hole can empty it. Children often make one feel this way. Some people experience it with their pets. Occasionally we find a friend or lover who falls (or rises?) into that state with us. And sometimes it just wells up from within. However I can get it, I'll take it.
I need a certain level of autonomy in my life. I consider choice to be my birthright. I need then to be able to recognize my choices, to act on them and to experience the consequences. Granted the consequences aren't always what I expect, but the fact that I have the opportunity to make those mistakes is more valuable to me. The trick to this lies at the recognition stage. I've had enough experiences in my life to now recognize that I always have a choice. When I'm stuck between that rock and the hard place and the samurai warrior and the poisonous snake and the government and the media and the terrorists.... I still have a choice. It's a state of mind and if I lose that... then I won't be able to go bounding out into the sunshine on a balmy day in May and holler "Yeah! Does life get any better?!"
Sunshine on a Balmy Day in May
And ohhhh look! None of these things require a whole lot of money. Good thing too because I'm just now starting to make what some would call a decent wage.
Here's hoping for health, beauty, meaningful work, alone time, love, independence, and occasional warm and sunny days - now and forever. Now that is a quality life.