That’s a comment I just left on a friend’s blog post – “I’d scoop up poop if it made me happy.”
It was in response to her going back to a 9-5 again after trying her hand at entrepreneurship (congrats, Lauren!), and reminded me of how far I’ve come in my own thinking over the years…
Back when I
quit got laid off of my job 7 years ago, I told the world I’d never go back to a 9-5 myself and thought I was pretty hot $hit for saying so.
“9-5? Those are for suckers! Blogging’s where it’s at, bitches!” – Said the guy who worked a 9-5 just days earlier…
But the truth is, I was a big fat idiot. And so are others who say they’ll “never” do something again.
You may feel that way at the time, and maybe you never do end up going back to something again later, but I’ve since learned that the more limits you put on yourself the less opportunities you end up having later on in life.
Why say “never” when “never” could actually make you happier one day?
I saw this quote literally just 3 minutes before I read Lauren’s post, and I thought it was pretty fitting:
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Notice how it doesn’t tell you the actual *path* to happiness, but rather when you can tell when you’ve reached it (as if we needed to know when we were happy :))
If quitting your job or taking a job that paid less, or even partnering up with your ex-girlfriend’s brother’s former lover made you happy in the end, would you do it? (And it didn’t hurt anybody?)
If scooping up poop gave you the biggest smile you’ve ever had in your life, would you do it?
I think about this stuff all the time… Why we put these limits on ourselves. Especially as I drift from full-time blogger/entrepreneur to part-time daddy/blogger/entrepreneur these days, and maybe one day later to even full-time daddy/no blogger/’preneur.
How far are you willing to go for happiness? Even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else?
I think about how money affects my happiness now as well. In the beginning when I had nothing it affected it a lot. Then when I started earning more of it, it started affecting it less. And now when I’ve had more than I’ve ever had before it barely affects it at all.
How is that possible? How am I just as happy now with $600k+ in the bank than I was with only $60,000 in the bank? Or back a decade before that when I had, *gasp*, -$600 in the bank partying it up in college?
That shouldn’t make sense, yet happiness-wise they’re pretty on par.
(Though no way I’d go back in time and revert all my savings, haha… that would be DETRIMENTAL to my happiness. Which is another thing that’s kind of interesting? That you can be perfectly happy with less money at one point, but if you later earn more and then lose it all and go back to that exact same spot again, not only do you not revert back to the same levels of happiness again, but you’re then considerably LESS happy! Even though the amount of money is exactly the same in both cases?!)
Basically, achieving happiness requires a fine-tuned concoction of a number of key ingredients.
I’d be remiss to not point out the time last year where I almost sold all my sites in exchange for a large heap of money too. Why wouldn’t I have snatched it up if it got me substantially closer to the one thing we’re all striving to hit so badly in our financial worlds? Financial freedom? That sounds pretty idiotic?
Freedom > money > stuff, right?
Yet here we are, still blogging away with hundreds of thousands of dollars less to my name :)
Point is, saying “never” to something that one day could very well make you happier in the end is doing a huge disservice to your future self. Why even close off all doors anyways? We’re not the same people today as we were yesterday – we’re constantly changing and becoming better versions of ourselves (hopefully)! Who’s to say what we’ll want the next day, or even the next month/year/decade?
Nothing’s ever permanent.
So would I clean up $hit for a living or blow my money on coffee or go back to a 9-5 or any other crazy options that people would probably point and laugh at me for doing? Hell yeah I would! So long as it truly made me happy.
Almost everything we do in this life is in the pursuit of happiness. If an opportunity to make it gobs better is sitting there right in front of you, TAKE IT AND BE THANKFUL! Screw what the world thinks!
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It’s funny you said that, bc I saw someone with a sign on their car that said neighborhood pooper scooper. So she did scoop poop for a living!
I love and agree with all this though. It’s no about the image or the job, it’s about being happy where you are. Whatever that looks like for you. It’s hard to admit that sometimes, but that’s the truth. The goal is definitely to not let pride get in the way of that!
That pooper scooper and i would be friends :)
I can see your business card now:
J. Money Poop Scooping
“Your Waste Is My Gain”
OMG haha… you are too much.
I retired last year and now volunteer at a Sea Turtle Rehab Center. One of my duties is scooping up turtle poop (it’s wet and falls apart easily in the water). Working with the sea turtles brings me joy and it’s something I can do with my wife, so we’re both happy. Scooping up the poop may not be the most glamorous part of my duties, but when we get to release a healthy sea turtle back in the ocean I’m truly happy and glad I was able to help. It’s your attitude that makes all of the difference.
That is so cool!!!!! What a great way to spend you time!
Great post J$!!! I know I have fallen into the mindset at times that once I acheive something that will bring happiness to my life. In reality it hardly does. I’ve found that the things that made me happy early in life are often the same things that make me happy today. Now I am trying to use money to create memories instead of hoarding it in my war chest :)
In fact, that would make for an interesting topic/blog post right there – ” I’ve found that the things that made me happy early in life are often the same things that make me happy today”
There’s a lot of truth in that!
(Btw, absolutely LOVED your article the other day on your addiction to day trading… It may or may no show up on Rockstar Finance soon ;))
Nice post! Agreed that finding happiness is an ongoing effort and that nothing is permanent.
Regarding scooping up poop, I used to do it and it did make me happy – lifeguarding was the best job in the world! When a kid had to go, it would require everyone to clear the pool for a while until we “shocked” the pool and scooped up those unathororized floaters (or sinkers in most instances).
Your conclusion also captures it nicely – it’s all about the happiness.
That is hilarious! I always thought lifeguarding sounded like a killer job. It’s one of the ones I’ve never tried growing up.
You can still try it! The Rock just did it in the new Baywatch movie (full disclaimer: Mrs. BD and I did not pay to see it in theatres; we waited until on-demand).
Freedom > money > stuff
That’s some hard math but it sounds about right!!! I know exactly how you feel with your 600k in the bank (liquid, very jealous by the way) and no detectable extra happy.
When I was young I rather starve than eat eggplants. I swore to myself I would never eat one because they looked ugly when cooked. Guess what was lunch and dinner? My favorite: soy sauce braised eggplants. Never say never!!
Haha sounds about right :)
For me it was Indian food, and now I CAN’T STOP EATING IT BECAUSE IT’S THE TASTIEST THING ON THE PLANET!!!
The older I get, the more I realize that it’s the simple things that make me happy and make the extraordinary things special. I watched a documentary about a man who made $100K or more a year cleaning up parking lots after concerts. He figured out how to create a business I’m sure he had no idea he’d want to do, then capitalized on his experiences and gained a ton of clients. That’s pretty awesome to me!
YES!!! We actually featured this in our side hustle series last month!
Such a brilliant idea!
This is so great and it’s typically a lesson learned when life somewhat forces your hand (getting laid off shows you the door to pursue what you really are passionate about).
It’s interesting to watch how happiness evolves over time, last year my answer would have been different than it is today
I was happy to have a few days off from work to go to the lake, but today if my daughter isn’t part of the equation I would spend a lot of my day wishing she was there.
Never say never – Don’t fight the shifts over time as your situation changes.
FI = Choices = More opportunities to find happiness
Thanks for the reminder to do what makes us happy. This is important because maybe retiring early would actually not increase some peoples’ happiness. There are a lot of benefits of working in an office environment. Also, maybe there are other opportunities you want to pursue like charity work, traveling, or volunteering. Don’t lose sight of what will make you happy in life!
Loved that Ghandi quote and love this post!!
There are so many things we think we will or won’t do in the future but circumstances change and so do our view points. I KNOW that 9-5 isn’t for me, but there is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep my head afloat (financially or mentally speaking). About 10 years back I took a break from flying and stayed home to trip trade (basically day trading trips from flight attendants in exchange for $$). I loved trading, but I missed human connection after awhile and wanted to feel like part of a team (similar to Lauren’s story). I decided to get a job waitressing at the restaurant that had just opened across the street. Despite the fact I made $50/hour if I were to fly and the fact I was making plenty of money trading, I was willing to work for $2.50/hr + shitty tips. Like you said, sometimes you have to do what makes your heart/brain happy. Whether it’s picking up poop, going back to 9-5, or working for shitty tips just for the camaraderie (and free food). I truly believe happy spreads happy and I am willing to take the gamble of less money for more happy any day!!
And this is why I love you so much :) Not afraid to go after what you want at any given moment of time!
Happiness is quite subjective and very personal. I would work for free if what I was working in made me happy, it’s inline with my values and it’s for a good cause.
Some people think that if they made a certain amount of money they will be happier. However, they forgot that money is only a tool to help you achieve happiness. It won’t provide you any happiness.
After Mr. FAF started working, we got a big jump in our income. But our happiness has not increased proportionally. Although we were ecstatic about the first paycheck, we have returned to normalcy and are now just living a normal life like before.
I think after we have all of our basic needs taken care of and have achieved a certain level of financial security, our happiness starts to level off.
“I think after we have all of our basic needs taken care of and have achieved a certain level of financial security, our happiness starts to level off.”
Yup – and science points to that too.
Such a great post. Money does not necessarily bring happiness. Money brings options that hopefully brings happiness. The greatest part about having options is structuring your life the way you want. You might structure a crazier rat race than the first go around, but at least it is on your terms.
I left my job a few months ago. Now I am setting up my consulting company to go back and consult at that same company. Best part, I will only work 20 hours per week instead of 60+. The second best part is I will make almost as much, with much less stress. Will this make me happy? Hopefully. I loved parts of my job. Time will tell. You never know until you try.
I struggled previously with trying. Mostly a fear of failure. However if you don’t try you will surely fail.
Oh wow! That sounds pretty promising! A lot of people do that here in the DC area with government contracting… Doing the same exact work but for gobs more money because it’s structured differently. If you can pull it off, power to you!
Great quote. I could not agree more. In the end, all these money decisions we talk about are about increasing happiness. This concept is so important to me, I have it ion the “about page” of my blog. Money is just a tool to use to maximize your happiness.
I’ve been working on my own business for three years with the hope that I can avoid working for someone else for most of the rest of my life. However, I am actively networking with other folks in my field (especially if they have offices near me) to have more interaction and to take on some of their overflow work. I will technically work for them, but on terms I set up.
I would definitely be less happy if my business failed, even though I would likely earn more money in the long-term.
Love it! Do what makes you happy…money doesn’t always do it! Just need to find that happy balance between wants/needs! Still working on it and hopefully God willing have a few more good years to keep working and finding the answer.
I’ve got some detectable extra happiness. For me the freedom>money>stuff equation holds up. With that freedom I now scoop chicken poop from their coop to my compost pile instead of sitting at a desk all day. I prefer surfing, but scooping poop also makes me happy, a lot happier than my cubicle did :)
I’m still waiting for my fresh batch of eggs to show up in the mail, please :)
Wow. There’s so many times I’ve thought that I would never do this or that in my life/career/job and invariably I’d find myself doing it a few years later. People change, I change, circumstances change.
My co-worker just yesterday said that “if you are not doing things that give you joy (make you happy) to some extent, then you are a loser. You are losing at life. You should figure out what else you can do, to earn a living, and find contentment with.”
I thought it was a bit harsh to call people losers, but he was right. We get one shot at this. If we are doing something that makes us unhappy then we should try to correct it or at least know where the end goal is.
I’m glad you didn’t sell your sites. Just look around, everybody who’s older so it’s for money have come back to re-create the glory, and many have not.
Life is so much easier being happy!
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Speaking of poop, this must be why taking a dump is so satisfying: I’m thinking I need to take a dump, I’m saying to my kids, move I have to go take a dump, and finally, the plop itself….
Okay okay, haha…
Ha! Love it. Truth be told, I do scoop up poop. Both dog’s poop, and strangely enough, it doesn’t make me completely disgusted. Maybe it’s because I get to feel the warmth through the thin poop bag? TMI?
I think we all have a baseline happiness. When money isn’t a problem, we’ll be pretty close to the baseline. More wouldn’t make a huge difference, but money problem will stress us out.
I still say I’m never going back the rat race. There are too much BS. Even the best boss in the world will demand something at some point. I’d rather work at my own pace. Are you considering going back to work 9-5?
I really like Ghandi’s quote. That about sums it up. He doesn’t tell us how to get there, though.
I am not at the moment, no, but I’d always consider it if presented. Just like I consider any option my way no matter how crazy or not it seems :) Why turn things down without first seeing if they might be awesome, right?
I appreciated this post because this is the sort of thing I’ve thought a lot about as of late. I’ve always been the kind of person who places a huge expectation on my job to be a source of happiness and fulfillment for me (I probably need more therapy in order to figure out why that is). I’m trying to practice the art of seeking my happiness elsewhere and looking at my job as a means to an end.
Good! At least you realize how you feel about things! It’s hard as $hit to separate yourself, for me oftentimes too, so you’re def. not alone there. Just takes lots and lots of time and patience to figure it all out I think, haha… But hey – gotta start somewhere :)
As a father of two kids, I spend a lot of time scooping up poop. It hasn’t made me happy, but having my two boys does. See what I did there?
My point here is that in happiness (and life), nothing is so cut and dry. There are positives and negatives to things that make us happier.
Yes, humans do most things in pursuit of happiness ‘income’, but we should also do the math on the poop scooping happiness ‘expenses’.
Great post! I’ve been cleaning up litter from parking lots since 1981 as a full time business and love the lifestyle it provides. I’m doing what many others wouldn’t consider doing and loving it!
I know you do!! You are the perfect embodiment here :)
My daughter is a very intelligent and well-educated person who also happens to have health issues that make a traditional job impossible. She was one of the “lucky” disabled people in that she found a job she could do from home. Not a job that she ever would have thought she’d do, and not a job that most people would immediately want.
In a post called “Doing What You Love Is Overrated” (http://ipickuppennies.net/2013/10/doing-what-you-love-is-overrated/) she had this to say:
“It’s okay to find fulfillment in something other than work. Maybe it’s more important to find it in life outside your job. Maybe it’s healthier to be able to delineate between your work and regular identities. Maybe instead of fueling our lives, our jobs could just fund them.”
If it’s not kosher for me to have posted the URL then please take it out, boss-man, and mea culpa. See you in Dallas; Abby has promised not to wind up in the hospital at this year’s conference.
I remember that post!! And I do hope this year goes much better for you guys for sure this time around :( I’m always in awe at HOW GOOD of a mother you are every time! Just dropping everything for your baby like that!! You guys are so lucky to have each other in your lives – it’s so beautiful.
Have you done a column yet on priests, nuns, monks, etc… Who have taken a vow of poverty? I have many friends in religious communities, and they are among the happiest people you will ever meet.
I’ve shared parables on them? :)
Number One – that gif. Amazeballs. Number Two – I was SO that girl who paid off debt and told everyone and their mama “I will NEVER get a credit card” again. And just last night started researching cards to apply to so I can a) keep my credit score up now that we are debt-free, and b) score some free flights with my points. When Mr. 1500 shared how his family flew for $200 because of their credit card, I realized maybe I was missing something in my “Screw credit cards” mentality. Such a well-timed post. (Both of them!)
Hah! You’ll have to tell me how you fare – I still cant get my minimalism brain to do it :)
I often say that it’s my goal to never need an office job again (where I have to actually GO to an office that’s not in my home 40+ hours a week) but I know that’s just because it makes me happy right now and for the foreseeable future. I also said I wouldn’t live through a home reno again, or sacrifice years of my life to do home flip level reno like Mr 1500 did, but let’s be honest, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make myself and my family happy. If changing the terms of my life is what it takes, you know I’m there!
Yeah you are :)
Love the take on happiness here, friend. I personally think we adapt to our circumstances, good or bad, and end up reverting back to a certain level of happiness if we stay in one state long enough.
That’s why it’s good for us to have challenges: to engage in things that involve our improvement or, better yet, involve a march towards mastery.
The change itself creates a change in our mental state, and hopefully one for the better.
If not: not a huge deal. Give it some time, and we’ll revert to the mean.
Sounds about right :)