Who is Responsible for Your Misery Index?

It is becoming more and more difficult for me to watch any form of television news.  The other day I was in a doctor’s office and one of the 24-hour cable news channels was blaring from the waiting room television.  They cited an article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that asked the rhetorical question, “Why are we so miserable?”  The commentators when on to cite gas prices, a down economy, the war in Iraq, inflationary fears, declining home values, and the rising costs of health care and food all as sources of our collective misery.  I surveyed the waiting room and several people were silently nodding their heads in agreement.

Over the next hour or so every single news segment presented had a negative slant.  They documented families passing up on vacation because of high gas prices.  They found a couple out and about who were all too happy to tell us about their mounting credit card debt, and falling home value.  I’m not naive to think that people are not really impacted by all these economic factors, but I can’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t be more responsible for our own happiness.  When did we turn the job of making ourselves happy over to politicians and media pundits?

The Pursuit of Happiness

Our founding fathers had it right when they documented our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence.  They did not guarantee our happiness, but guaranteed our freedom to go after the things that made us happy.  The execution of that plan would be up to us, but we now look to others to create happiness for us.

I am happy.  My family is happy.   There is little anyone in Washington, or in the media, could do or say to change that.  From a broader perspective, we are fortunate to live in an era of unprecedented personal wealth with high salaries, a healthy job market and access to one of the finest health care systems in the world.  That’s not to say our systems are without flaws, but when compared to other parts of the world, or other periods of history, we have it pretty well off.  I am free to move my family from one corner of the country to the other if we so desired.  I make a choice every morning about where I get up and go to work.  And if I find myself hating that job I am free to go look for another job that I love.  If I can’t find one I am free to work from home, be a full time parent, or start my own business.  I was provided public education through the 12th grade, and given all the opportunities that went along with it to learn and participate in extra-curricular clubs and sports.  I freely chose where to attend to college, who I married, where to buy a home, what type of car to drive, and what programming I watch on television (a shrinking list, these days).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we as Americans take many of these freedoms and opportunities for granted.  As a society we’ve survived civil war, two world wars, a great depression, recessions, real estate bubbles, gas shortages, and terrorist attacks on our country and our interests worldwide.  We will survive these rough times as well.  We will persevere.  It may take a little longer to bounce back than the most impatient of us would like, but it will happen, eventually.

Are You Better Off than You Were Eight Years Ago?

The media likes to ask this question in the frame of a dig against the lame duck occupant in the oval office.  No one is spared, regardless of their political party affiliation.  But it is a ridiculous question when you think about it.  Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?  Yes, I am.  In eight years I’ve been blessed with two wonderful children, made a career change to a more enjoyable line of work, relocated to a new city, earned raises from my employer, returned to school to finish my undergraduate education, and enjoyed the development of new technologies. Those sources of my happiness had very little, if anything, to do with what is happening in Washington, D.C.

And if I had answered no, I am not better off today than I was eight years ago, who would I have to blame? I guess I could start with myself.  If I had not pursued the completion of my education I may not have been able to change jobs, move to a new city, and enjoy salary increases along the way.  If I had not married my soul mate I would not have been blessed with two wonderful kids.  These moves did not come without sacrifice.  We racked up some debt to cover the additional costs of my attending school.  I spent many nights away from my family sitting in a classroom (until I discovered the joys of online education).  I stuck it out at a job I didn’t like because I needed the benefits and earnings to pursue my education because I knew it was the path to something better.  I spent many weekends locked away in a study room at a local library preparing for tests, writing papers, and reading monotonous text books.  I could have simply given up.  I could have skipped all forms of reading and learning, and been content coming home from my dead-end job and parking myself in front of the television for six hours watching mindless television programs.  But I was too busy pursuing happiness, and thankfully I found it.


  1. NEWS Negative Emphasis of What’s Seen, heard that years ago and never forgot it. Rick Steve’s number one travel rule for Americans. don’t watch the news before leaving on your vacation.

  2. I agree with you 100% I hate the news. I really try not to watch it, it’s just depressing. I try to focus on my life as it is today, which is pretty good!

  3. Great point. Americans need to travel the world a little more broadly (besides Hawaii and the beaches of Mexico) to see how the rest of the world is living. Granted, I don’t like seeing poverty when I travel, but the rest of the world is so bad off that in and of itself it should make everyone living here feel lucky as hell to have it the way we have it.

  4. Thanks Dad, I too, am tired of all the complaining going on. We are also better off than eight years ago, Both DH and I have increased our education and job skills, we have three wonderful healthy children. Watching them run around the fields with a kite and having a picnic in the back yard was a most happy and frugal weekend. I count my blessings every day. Life is not perfect but it is pretty darn good. I say, “Make your own Happiness” and you will lead a fulfilling and happy life.

  5. Wonderful viewpoint. Our happiness is also our personal responsibility. No outside force can “make” you happy.

    And I very much agree that for most Americans, if life isn’t better than eight years ago, it’s probably not because of government. Regardless of the economy, I’m grabbing onto happiness with both hands and holding on for the ride!

  6. Excellent article. Living overseas as an American, I’ve come to realize how very little we need as a family to be happy. I’m so thankful for this “forced” time in our life to learn about simplicity. If you have a chance to live abroad, I encourage anyone to do it!

  7. I agree that we should be responsible for our own happiness and well being. If you sit back and wait for someone else to make your life better, you’re in for a long wait.

    As for tv news, remember bad news sells and good news is no news. Maybe thats why you keep seeing polls where people say they are doing fine but the country is doing bad,

    Am I better off than eight years ago? The economy isn’t doing well right now(plenty of blame to go around on that), but that will change in time. I am taking early retirement this fall. That’s because I planned and worked for it. Not because of what others did.

  8. I’m with you. I can hardly stomach watching the news anymore. According to them, we are all victims of the government.

    I do not subscribe to this way of thinking. I believe I am responsible for my happiness. When I choose to get off my butt and do something, then I will improve my situation and create my bliss.

    If you think you are miserable, you probably will be.

  9. @Toblerone: I had a good friend early in my career who moved here from Poland. He came to the U.S. with $1,000 and a suitcase full of belongings. He rented a small apartment, worked at a service station and put himself through four years of school with cash before finally getting a break at the same company I worked for.

    At one point he was so broke he was eating a baked potato for lunch and dinner. I never once saw him frowning. The guy was so thrilled to be here, living out his dream. Even after getting on at our company, and tripling his salary, he still ate a baked potato for lunch every single day.

  10. @FD, your comment reminded of something I read recently. A young man just graduating from college decided to see what he could do starting with nothing.

    He started out with $25, no job, car or apartment.
    First couple of months he lived in homeless shelters and took whatever work he could get. A year later he had a full time job, a car, and apartment and several thousand dollars in the bank.

  11. So very true, I definitely ignore the news most of the time. It’s only good for those who want to complain and feel that life couldn’t get any worse.

    Despite my circumstances, I’ve been pretty content the last couple of weeks. It’d be so easy for me to be miserable, citing the President and the pointless war in Iraq for my unhappiness, but I’ve decided to make the most of the time I’ve got. I could either make myself hate life and have each day drag on until my husband comes back from the desert, or I can actively decide to enjoy it so that I’m a happier, healthier person when he returns.

    I’ve made the decision because I’ve seen way too many military wives, Army especially, who whine and complain about their husband’s deployments. I don’t feel sorry for them one bit, and I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me because my husband’s gone. It’s part of the job and it comes with the territory. You knew it could, and most likely would, happen when you got married. (Sure, mine’s only away for four months, but that’s his branch’s tour length. If he was Army, I’d have to live with that. I’m sure I could, but I know plenty of stories of the women who can’t even last a couple weeks without backstabbing their husbands.)

  12. This is so true! I prefer to live my life positively rather than focus on the negative. There is certainly plenty of negative to focus on, but I’d rather not 🙂

  13. Great article and viewpoint Frugal Dad!

    I watched the news last night and was shocked at the doom and gloom presented, especially with regard to the economy. I don’t get it. Everyone I know is doing better than they were Eight years ago. Many have doubled and tripled their household income. People I know are being very conservative and smart with their money. Some have over-extended themselves, but they are seeing the light and crawling out from under their debt.

    Give me another Eight years like the last Eight and I will never be able to wipe this stupid grin off my face. I feel safer now than ever before and I see positive things happening all around me.

  14. I HATE HATE HATE watching the news. I can be in a great mood and watch the news for 5 minutes and get depressed.

    And of COURSE I am better off than I was 8 years ago. Beyond better. Are things more expensive now? Yup. But even with increased expenses we have more money.

    I don’t need the government to give me handouts to make me happy. In fact, I’m happier when the government stays out of my way. Less regulation = more freedom = more happiness.

    Oh…and if it bleeds, it leads. The only stories the mainstream news does on Iraq are bad. Notice that there aren’t as many news stories lately? 🙂 Because things are going so well! Not perfect, because nothing is ever perfect. But if it’s good news it doesn’t count as news.

    No president will ever “make” someone happy (except maybe his political team) in their lives. It drives me bonkers seeing these “hope/change” bumper stickers. Maybe these people need to take control of their own lives if they think some guy in office will make them happier.

  15. I’m so sad that the US has, as a whole, become a bunch of whiners. So many people seem to have this sense of entitlement – especially young people graduating and wanting/EXPECTING their very first jobs to pay $200,000, that come with company cars, paid blackberries, paid laptops, big bonuses, corner offices and five weeks vacations.

    Just seems to me that no one really has a sense of having to work their way up the ladder anymore, that everyone wants things handed to them on silver platter and to have it handed to them NOW. I know it’s not true for everyone, but man oh man . . . we like to COMPLAIN about what we don’t have, instead of embracing what we DO have and what we have achieved through hard work.

    Sorry, I ranted.

    Nice post again, FrugalDad. I enjoying reading your blog every day. 😉

  16. Again, another great article by FrugalDad that I completely agree with.

    A friend of mine reminded me what news shows and publications are for. They are a business and they are out to make money. The way to make money is to get people to watch the news and stay for the commercial break. In magazines and papers, it’s eyes on the advertisements. If everything was great, why would anyone watch the news? They have found that scary news sells. In this day and age, with more news programs on the air than ever before it is a competitive market out there. They each do what they can to get a slice of the ratings points pie.

    On another topic, it’s amazing to me that people actually think that the President has any affect on our economy whatsoever. I mean really. If someone could point me to how he’s supposed to improve the economy, I’d love to hear it. The interest rate is affected by the Federal Bank. The stock market is affected by people like you and me throwing their money at companies. Debt and inflated real-estate prices are the effect of the market — which is made of people like you and me! Basically I as a consumer has more of a direct affect on the economy that almost anything the President could do. And before anyone says anything about tax breaks and nonsense like that, firstly, that has to be voted on by the Senate and the House of Representatives and then finally approved by the President. And secondly, tax breaks merely puts money that we earned back into our pockets temporarily — it is not a long term solution to an economic problem.

    Note here that I really don’t think the economy is doing as badly as the news outlets would have us believe. The stock markets are actually almost exactly where they were last year and national spending is just fine. I see it more as a problem of people believing it is bad and treating it like a problem simply because the media has said it is so. Kind of a “the sky is falling” problem, except everyone is believing Chicken Little without actually looking up at the sky.

  17. Wow, I TOTALLY love this post. I am so fed up with the media constantly going on about how horrible things are.

    I am very happy, and even if I wasn’t I wouldn’t expect any one other than myself to fix it. Not Bush, McCain, and certainly not Obama…

    Thanks for this. It made my day.

  18. Youre SO right!, I try to make myself responsible of my happiness. Not easy sometimes, but, I love the idea of being in charge of things like that!. IM your fan 🙂
    I would love to have you as a guest in my blog. I will traduce. Would you like that? no strings attached!


    As a journalist and newspaper reporter, I must say – the media does an awful job of spinning the news and emphasizing negativity.

    “If it bleeds, it leads” was the first principle I learned in journalism school. However, I had an excellent teacher who encouraged all of her students to try and turn that saying into an obsolete phrase.

    We were taught to focus on people’s suffering (“bleeding”), and then offer our readers a story on how to improve the world around them. For example, I’ve been writing a lot of stories on saving for retirement, getting better gas milage, and other practical topics. Interviewing people who complain about their credit card debt is pointless – just tell the reader how to get out of debt. Don’t idolize the people living outside of their means.

    Needless to say, I do not work for the New York Times, or any other newspaper you might recognize. But I really do wish that other members of the media recognized the power they hold over the general public, and that they should stop filling our airwaves with nonsense.

    Our solution: We unplugged the TV. We’re much happier now!

  20. I don’t have TV – don’t want the commericals nor the doom and gloom news, nor the sappy live-like-us shows. I catch a little news on the internet, and a the local weather (which is doom and gloom enough for me!) And get a free movie from the library if I want one.

    I am better off every day that I live 🙂 That’s my attitude! And I practice “Gratitude, not Resentment”… there is always something good about a situation – one just has to find it, rather than focus on the negative. I believe that Life is a Matter of Attitude…so you might as well have a good attitude while you’re at it! 🙂

    In the last 8 years I paid cash for my house, paid cash for the remodeling/addition, and all on a paycheck of under $20,000/yr. And I am very comfortable and debt free.

    I have a job I love – 4 days a week 32 hrs – so I have plenty of time for my pleasures.

    But better than that – the past 8 years have given me 7 3/4 grandkids (one more due in Sept) and they are the joys of my life… I am so happy to be alive today to enjoy all of them!

    I always say I am better off now (and happier) than 8 yrs ago – and yes, I’ve been surveyed via phone twice in the last few months 🙂

  21. Hubby and I was just talking about this a few days ago. My mother is a constant watcher of the news and frequently e-mails horrible, scary stories to everyone in her address book, telling us to “be careful” or “watch out for this.” Mind you, there is constantly something wrong with her health and she keeps saying she can’t figure out why. She’s been negative by nature for most of my life but I know for a fact that the news stories make it even worse. When we go over there the news is always on the television(s) and she intently watches. Thus, in my household, we DO NOT watch the news. Ever. Period. If there is a big story that I need to know about, I know it will be on the first page of msn.com or cnn.com and I can read it at my leisure. I love my mom with all of my heart but I refuse to let the media and outside world effect my happy home like she did. And because of this, my family is happy….truly happy.

  22. I was in China recently, just after the earthquake. The government has a ‘Happiness Index’ and they keep track of how happy the populace is. I don’t know what they do with it, but they collect it. Also you won’t see any doom & gloom on the TV. If the one English channel is indicative of Chinese TV in general, everything is happy and about how effective and organized the country is (hmm, maybe that rubbed off on me) and looks at everybody as heroes. And just look at how well the country is doing. It is THRIVING (at least economically), while America is stagnating. Most Americans would dismiss China’s practices as anti free speech, which I guess it is, but is it better for the welfare of the people? Something to think about.

  23. I stopped watching the TV five years ago, but not for the reasons some of the other posters listed. I got tired of being lied to. I got tired of being misled by deliberately distorted information in the news about the state of the economy. As someone whose lines of work were off-shored twice in the past 8 years, it made making plans for selecting and pursuing a new career path and targeting a demand area that much more difficult. Government statistics were no better. You know what they say–garbage in, garbage out.

    Silly me, in the past, my experience had been that work was awarded based on ability, but that is much less the case today. Increasingly, the current political and economic climate seems to award work solely based on “who you know”. Whom do you all know?

    Those of you who are open to hearing about the trends concerning salaries know that the increasing gap between the rich and poor is a statistical fact. Countries with no middle class are known for their increasing political instability. Like a patient with his head in the oven and his feet in the frig, that patient is going to die.

    I don’t understand how a CEO’s time could be worth more than 500 times the average worker’s salary today (it was only 48 times as much 25 years ago). If you are the average worker, you wouldn’t either. Of course, people who are doing well financially tend to wonder what other people are doing “wrong” and tend to congratulate themselves about all the things they are doing “right”. Some of it is luck.

    If you are doing well financially, understand that you are part of a very small minority in this country today. I’ve been told that politics is the redistribution of wealth. Be prepared for change in November. What you are seeing in the media today is not whining, but suffering; moreover, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

  24. Sorry, Josephine…I consider your comment a whine and I resent it. You think that our financial “success” (everyone has a different definition of this by the way) is due to luck and not hard work. I call BS. Luck had very little to do with ours. My hubby and worked our arses off (and continue to do so) for everything we have. Hubby studied and worked his butt off to become a state Trooper and even went back to school after 30 to get his Bachelors. I got fired from my job and worked to find another one quickly. I continued going to school while I worked full time in a fairly low position and worked my way up to where I am now (not exactly “high” in the company, but a good position nonetheless). There was no “luck” involved.

    If your job has gotten outsourced, get off your duff and find a new one in a different field. There are hundreds and thousands of options out there if you’re willing to do what it takes to find them.

    I agree the media misleads and gov’t stats are imperfect. But so what?

    What supposed “change” (you mean the Messiah?) is coming in November? You expect some magical event will happen and all the jobs sourced overseas will magically reappear? Not going to happen. Outsourcing is just reality and a fact of supply/demand.

    People being bitter about other people’s success just drives me bonkers. I’ve never been angry at others for succeeding. I was never angry with our CEO at making gagillions more than me. I don’t want his job and am perfectly happy with my salary. The stress that comes with being CEO is not something they could pay me a Trillion dollars for.

    CEO wages are just a small portion of the issue as far as I’m concerned. Small businesses make up a huge percentage and owners of those small businesses deserve every penny they earn. Don’t envy someone their earnings just because you aren’t happy with your own.

    Life isn’t fair and it never will be. It’s how you live your life and react that matters.

  25. I couldn’t agree more! this is a fabulous piece that i wish someone would read ON the news to stop all the whining going around. There are too many people today dependent on someone else to make them happy, to get them ahead, to get them what they need, our parents/grandparents/great-grandparents would be ashamed to know where we have brought society after all of their hard work!

    It is time we all take responsibility for ourselves and our happiness!

  26. Josephine,

    It is not as simple as awarding work based upon hard work and ability or based soley upon who you know. It is the combination of the two…working hard and leveraging your contacts…that equals working smart. This is nothing new and the most successful people embrace this concept.

    You write as if the widening gap between the rich and poor is a “bad” thing. It is an incredibly good thing that the gap is widening. When rich people are allowed to invest freely and grow their business…innovation takes place. We want to foster innovation by rewarding those who take the risks and make things happen. The “poor” are better off now than they were 20 years ago, due to innovation and the rewarding of the innovators.

    “Some of it is luck.”

    If you study these peoples lives, this “luck” you mention is often the culmination of years, sometimes decades, of effort put out before they see any type of payout.

    “If you are doing well financially, understand that you are part of a very small minority in this country today.”

    This is simply an untrue and unsupported position, unless you are using the news reports as your proof.

    “I’ve been told that politics is the redistribution of wealth.”

    More accurately, Government, not politics, is the redistribution of wealth. That is why smaller Government is desireable, unless you want your “wealth” redistributed.

    “Be prepared for change in November.”

    God help us…

    “What you are seeing in the media today is not whining, but suffering; moreover, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

    So…the media is suffering? Perhaps they should suffer in silence instead of whining about it. Better yet, perhaps those whining should stand up and be a man or a woman and take control of their lives. Be the Captain’s of their own ship. Suck it up Prince/Princess…it is time to put on your big boy/girl underwear and be responsible for what you can control.

  27. GREAT POST! Thank you so much. Things are good – no one wants to admit that. In our middle class working neighborhood in MA – we don’t complain about gas or food. We appreciate that we all have at least 2 vehicles per family, an average of 3 – 4 tv sets, computer, laptop, ipod(s), above ground swimming pools, front and back porches, sheds, lawnmowers, etc. That is so much more than most of the world – I am not going to boo hoo because I am not a millionaire (yet.)

  28. Amen, Brother! I’m sick of the whining, too. Plan for your future, work hard, and enjoy life. We have it great in this country, even with $4.00 gas. If you aren’t happy, change your life. Don’t ask the federal government to change it for you, and then ask me to pay for it through higher taxes! That DOES tend to make me miserable!

  29. Thank you for this post – I agree completely – people always focus on the bad – especially on the news. And if it’s an election year watch out – it will increase ten-fold.

    YOU are responsible for your own happiness people, don’t wait around for someone else to hand it to you. Go out theer and grab it! It is a choice!

  30. “If you study these peoples lives, this “luck” you mention is often the culmination of years, sometimes decades, of effort put out before they see any type of payout.”

    “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

  31. the pursuit of happiness thing? i love it and try to live by it. nobody else is responsible for my happiness other than myself. it is my right to pursue the paths that will make my life richer…emotionally AND financially 🙂

  32. For responders who may be wondering, there are some points on which we do agree. I agree that work, talent, and persistence are part of the equation of success (or happiness). By the way, I’ve got those covered. I also agree that financial abundance is one kind of abundance, although I don’t actually have or want any of the things that the poster Sally mentioned; they are not indicators of success or happiness for me, although they may be for other people.

    I agree that attitude is something an individual can control to a great degree. Ability and motivation count, too.

    I’m surprised at how many of the responders have downplayed or outright denied the role of luck in success or happiness. Do most of you honestly believe that luck, good or bad, plays no role whatsoever in determining your current situation? I distinguish luck, by the way, from “magical thinking”, which a couple of the responders apparently subscribe to.

    How much does “who you know” contribute to your individual financial situation? Let’s say:

    luck hard work talent who you know = 100%

    Would anyone care to share some percentages?

    I also have noted in the responses that the only kind of luck anyone so far has been willing to mention is the “good” kind. Has any one of you ever experienced a string of “bad” luck? How did it feel, how long did it last, and what did you do about it?

    Finally, I’m also curious as to what kind of work or income-producing activities others on this thread are doing.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughtful responses.

  33. Josephine – responding to your query….
    NONE of it has been “good” luck, nor who I know/knew 🙂
    Luck 0%. Who you know 0%. Hard work 75% Talent 25% = 100% for your breakdown. The parts of your equation that is missing tho is being very very frugal and not spending a penny more than necessary, adaptablility, and flexibility.
    It HAS been attitude, effort, and sometimes working 5 jobs at the same time.
    I’ve been laid off three times due to downsizing – which some would call bad luck – but I just saw it as ‘Life’ and a chance to try something new. I learned early on that “Life is not fair” and once I figured that out and decide to work with it instead of against it, then my attitude adjusted and I got on with a good life.

    What some people might call a string of bad luck, I would prefer to just call Life’s Ups and Downs! It happens to us all. It’s not what happens but how you react to it that counts! 🙂

    I shoveled a lot of cow manure,(literally) and worked a lot of 24/7’s to get where I am today. I bought a dairy farm with $2000 down and an operating loan, and worked my butt off day and night, ending in a divorce. That work load was a killer. I lost more than 1/2 of everything I jointly owned at that point. Not good luck, nor bad luck – just Life! After that, when I needed extra work, I worked for other dairies cleaning up manure and feeding calves. Nothing glamourous about it – just a lot of hard work and a very good work ethic…. Oh, and did I mention all this 5 jobs at a time and cow manure happened after I was a 40 year old woman? I call that time of my life (juggling 5 parttime jobs) the 24/8 period…It was rough! But it’s what I needed to do to survive and recoup at the time.

    And what kind of work do I do now?
    As a divorced 54 year old woman – I work as an “office manager” for a local recycling company that also runs the local dump/transfer station. I work 4 days/8hrs each, make about $17,000/yr taking in dead cars for salvage, running a forklift, and doing paperwork/phones for the dead animal pickup we also run. Plus I work as a substitute at the dump in the scale shack. Not glamourous at all 🙂 College degree not much help in this small rural town.

    But… I am the HAPPIEST person I know 🙂 I love life, living, my family, and the precious time with my grandkids, and spend my extra day off in my garden. I’m debt free- house, car,and truck are paid for – and I intend to stay debt free by frugal living. Luckily, I don’t need money to be happy!

    Hope this is the type of responses you were wanting to answer the questions in your mind.
    It’s all about Attitude, Adaptablity, and Flexibility, and Frugality. You make your own Luck thru your reactions to what Life throughs at you.

  34. Marci – You rock. 🙂


    I don’t believe in luck. I mean, I use the word “lucky” but I don’t really believe luck is to blame for anything. Life is unfair and that is just a fact.

    I don’t blame the circumstances of my life for anything other than making me stronger. My dad died when I was 8. I was raised by a single mother who had to work very hard for my brother and I. I started working when I was 16 and ended up with an internship at the state through my high school. I don’t think it had anything to do with “who I knew” because it was a school program. I enjoyed working with computers and was therefore enrolled in businesses classes, which led to the internship.

    I worked as an intern and then several roles as a permanent employee where I was less than a receptionist or secretary. I decided to change jobs and went to work for the city, which I hated. It wasn’t “bad” luck that I got fired. I hated the job and it showed in my attitude. And after getting fired it was hard work to find a new job but I had one in three weeks. Based on NO ONE I knew…the job was an hour away with a private company but it paid more and had better opportunities.

    I’ve worked there ever since and the one promotion I’ve received had nothing to do with who I know (it was actually a new role in a different department). My salary is probably not as high as other people in my position but that’s okay with me. I have a flexible job that allows me to work at home once a week and take plenty of vacation time.

    Do I feel blessed? Hell yes. But I don’t feel lucky. I feel that I worked my butt off for the last 15 years and it’s led to where I am today. I haven’t had all the difficulties that Marci has had in life but everyone’s life is different.

    I absolutely agree that some people get their jobs based on who they know…but that is PART of business. I knew NO one at this company and have done very well.

    I think the amount of money any of us makes is irrelevant. Everyone has a different level of ‘want’ for their salary. Mine is just fine for me and yet would be way too low for some people. So saying how much we make is irrelevant. My husband is not happy with our salaries but I am. Everyone is different.

  35. “The delusion that any success can be easy – attainable through mere chance – is the reason for the continued prominence of disappointment, disillusionment, and unhappiness in an age which abounds with material goods and opportunities alike. If a man thinks he can succeed through mere chance, he sees no need to exert himself; if a man attributes his failure to pure luck, he will not accept responsibility for his own predicament. The great man accomplishes more precisely because he recognizes that – in the long run – he is the sole determining factor of his fate. No obstacle, not even death itself, can ultimately undo the fruits of his resolve; Newton’s discoveries have survived him by centuries – and the generations that followed him did not preserve his work by random chance or whim. The Nobel, Ford, and Rockefeller fortunes continue to shape the economic and cultural dynamic of the world, over a century after they were accumulated.

    Others watch the great man – Mozart at his piano, Edison at his laboratory – and think: how easily and how effortlessly these prodigies seem to accomplish their feats! But such observers see only the results; they do not see the process that attained them. They do not see the hours of methodical preparation, the days of developing incomplete but promising thoughts, the months and years of building on a base of skill and knowledge at the expense of leisure and luxury. The regular times Mozart spent alone, experimenting with combinations of notes to find those fruitful few; the thousands of failed attempts Edison made at a technical problem before finding one that solved it – those the public does not see. This omission distorts, discolors, and impoverishes the prevailing view of men who succeed at monumental tasks.”
    by Gennady Stolyarov II

  36. “Finally, I’m also curious as to what kind of work or income-producing activities others on this thread are doing.”

    I agree with Castocreations; income-producing activities are fairly irrelevant to luck, success or any type of misery index.

    For example, I started out in my adult life in the bottom 5% of income earners. I have worked in Seven different career categories trying to find my passion. I am now in the legal field and have worked my way well into the top 5% of income earners.

    Achieving this feat had nothing to do with luck, mostly just sheer determination and consistently showing up. Working hard (smart) and striving to be the best in each position (even if I hated it) is what got me through disappointments and failures. If I see a road block, it is my job to go around it, over it, under it or through it. It if is too formidible…I try again. I re-evaluate if that is a road I really want to go down and keep trying if my passion is truly there. Some road blocks are not worth the effort and I learn to avoid those.

  37. To Texan – GREAT QUOTE! Thanks for sharing it. It’s going in my memory book I am making up for my grandkids 🙂

  38. “As regards mathematicians, when we consider how many among them have been possessed of enormous natural gifts, it might have been expected that the lists of their eminent kinsmen would have been yet richer than they are…I account for the rarity of such relationships in the following manner. A man given to abstract ideas, is not likely to succeed in the world, unless he be particularly eminent in his peculiar line of intellectual effort. If the more moderately gifted rlative of a great mathematician can discover laws, well and good; but if he spends his days in puzzling over problems too insignificant to be of practical or theoretical import, or else too hard for him to solve, or if he simply reads what other people have written, he makes no way at all, and leaves no name behind him. There are far fewer of the numerous intermediate stages between eminence and mediocrity adapted for the occupation of men who are devoted to pure abstractions, than for those whose interests are of a social kind.”

    –Francis Galton, “Hereditary Genius”, pp. 248-249

  39. Casto… Thanks 🙂

    and to the rest:
    I am delighted at reading about all you UPBEAT and Happy people out there!!! It’s just sooooo refreshing!!!!!!

  40. YIKES Josephine! Quoting the father of eugenics is an interesting way of bringing nature versus nurture into the discussion. I almost thought I was watching the movie Gattaca there for a moment while Harvey Danger was singing in the background “Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding the creatons cloning and feeding…” as I read the quote.

  41. I am a teacher who, after 28 years, makes much less than what the media tells me teachers make. My husband is retired. Together we have never made six figures. We have a tiny midwestern farm- paid for with cash and two wonderful adult children (one with a Marine spouse and a little one). Guess what- we all are….happy.
    Since we lived overseas so long we still watch the news a great deal.Other than that- no tv.
    The key to happiness is not living in an area that has stores to tell you what you are missing-lol. Actually, the key is to learn that the most important part of your life is standing right in front of you- your family.
    Glad I found you FD

  42. i strongly agree with you
    happiness can be found after people fight for it , you have to pay the price first in order to be happy