With the passing of another Christmas season, I thought it appropriate to jot down some thoughts, since this has been a year of change in my life, and also the life of my wife. Aside from getting married back in July, starting a new job, and moving to a new area of the state, I feel like it’s been a year of personal growth for us as well. This past holiday season displayed that with blazing color.
The past few days have been surprisingly peaceful for me. I’m thinking that I didn’t really expect it, since I had to drive 500 miles, and spend 4 days with in-laws, but it really was. It could be that spending 5 days a week at work really does make you appreciate the time you have to yourself, or maybe it’s because I’ve really come to appreciate the people I have in my life. Material things don’t mean as much anymore. Sure, a good video game is fun here and there, and I love to read, but the past year has seen a growth of my love for investing in things that will last throughout the ages.
Family And Friends
A year ago, if you had asked my wife about my tolerance for family gatherings, she’d let you know to steer clear of that area. Something about the whole situation seemed so fake to me, that I couldn’t stand it. While it’s still a work in progress, I’m beginning to get a bit more out of getting together with family, especially during the holidays. I actually spent the last two holidays with extended family, so that should count for something. My biggest help here has been focusing on the positives, rather than looking for negatives that didn’t really exist.
On the friends front, I’ve really made leaps and bounds. My biggest problem is that I lumped everyone into the same boat, time and time again. There are certain people that I cannot stand. Period. They will, and forever will, annoy the hell out of me. But where I made the mistake, was treating everyone as if they would have the same effect on me. The past year, and the last few months especially have seen a change in that behavior. I’ve gotten to know a few wonderful people a little more each time I see them, and have actually experienced a longing to see them from time to time. These relationships are something that will follow us for the rest of our lives, if we cultivate them, and don’t let the toils of time bury what we’ve created.
This is another front that I’ve actually tried making progress in and it’s actually picked up some ground. Too many (I won’t say most, since I don’t really know) people today don’t take enough time to read, and I’d like to stand up and say I won’t fall into that category. I’d like to grow in all categories, but since I’m a computer programmer by profession, I tend to do more study in the computer science area. Knowledge is something that will follow you forever, if you keep exercising your mind. Rather than building a portfolio of stocks, which tend to deteriorate though time, why not build a portfolio of knowledge, in addition to the stocks? Casual reading is something that strengthens the mind like nothing else I’ve ever done. I can’t tell you what a change I feel after reading for a few hours. My thinking is clearer, my logic is better. It’s pretty awesome.
A Sense of Contentment
One of the mantras of the human world seems to be “Bigger, Better, Gotta Have It!” For anyone that watches television, (I don’t really, just once in a while) this fact displays it’s ugly face all too often. Consumers are constantly blasted with ads for electronics, new cars, and other items that they don’t need to survive. I’ve broken out of this way of thinking. Well, I never really fell into it, but had a time when I just may have. I do have a stack of video games that I’ve somehow accumulated throughout the years, and have a shelf full of books, some of which I haven’t read for a while. Do you ever experience that feeling that you should be playing with or reading everything you own? That you are somehow not enjoying all the things that you have? Well, I do, and have been making strides to get away from this thinking over the past year.
Something I’ve noticed, in every facet of my life, is that if a person tries to do too much, they won’t do anything at all. If you try to enjoy too much of life, a person won’t enjoy any of it at all. From your professional life, to your personal life, and even to reading blogs, if you try to do too much, you won’t get anything done. Rather than fall into the ever increasing norm of information overload, I’ve decided that I’m going to pare down on how much I take in, and do.
This past year has been a year of tremendous growth in my Christian faith. I’ve always known about how Jesus died on the cross, long ago, to save me from my sins, but during the last year, and the last few months especially, it has really hit me as to what this means. I mean, who can’t say this, when they start to tear up while singing Silent Night! It really means that all of my sins are forgiven, just for believing that He died for me. I’ve noticed, that the more I dwell on that fact, the clearer and more awesome it becomes. I think the only way to explain the difference in perspective, is to compare seeing a picture of the grand canyon, and actually seeing it in person. When you experience something firsthand, the effect that it can have on you can be much more overpowering, than just hearing about it, or seeing it.
One key thought that I hold, when it comes to personal finance, is that other areas of your life, and how you handle them really determine your financial outlook. By investing in things that bring value over time, you do the same with money as well. By valuing things that bring contentment and joy to you, you will naturally spend less money, since true joy comes from non-monetary items. 2010 has been a pretty great year in CentsToShare land. I look forward to what 2011 will bring.