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You CAN Be Too Rich or Too Thin

I know that to many people this seems like heresy – these are two goals that influence a great deal of human behavior. But we’ve all seen someone who has clearly lost too much weight. Often they think they still need to lose more. And while it would seem that one could not be too rich, there is a point at which increasing one’s wealth no longer increases one’s happiness.

Here’s the human dilemma – once we start to lose weight or earn money, we gauge our success by every pound or every dollar. At some point we start to equate our personal value with dollars and pounds. If we gain weight, we’re fat losers, if we lose weight we’re hot and successful. Same thing with money. I don’t know about you, but as my business falls off with the recession, I feel like a failure.

Here’s how this has worked in my life – over the past couple of years I’ve lost about 20 pounds. I was never fat (although I certainly was starting to get there!) and to be honest, most people haven’t noticed. I’m pretty tall, so it’s not as noticeable on me as it would be on someone shorter, and I’ve lost it gradually. I actually never thought I weigh this little again – hell, I weigh less now than I did in college.

Am I happy about this? Yes, but I still think I could lose another pound or two. See how crazy we are? We lose weight and we always think we could stand to just lose a little more. We make more money and we think we could just make a little more…. We poor humans are never satisfied.

This is not all bad – it keeps us in the game, keeps us striving. But it also keeps us beating ourselves up. I will not be happy with myself if I gain back 5 pounds even though I’m still significantly lighter than I was and still would weigh less than my original goal! I am unhappy that I’m not going to make more money this year than last year even though the world is in a terrible recession. So what to do?

1.)Check in with what really brings you joy. I love fitting into my new hot jeans, I won’t lie. But I also adore food – ice cream in the summer, chocolate all the time, bread…my mouth is watering just thinking about it! So if I really want something, I’m going to eat it. I’m going to try not to beat myself up if I gain back a pound or two. Hell, if no one noticed I lost 20 pounds are they going to notice I gained three? I don’t think so. If you’ve lost touch with what brings you joy, think back about the times in your life when you were the happiest. What can you do to recreate that happiness?

2.)What REALLY means success to you? If I die skinny, does that mean I had a great life? How about if I die rich? I just want to be happy. I think if most of my life was spent filled with joy, than I had a great life. What does a great life mean to you? What brings you deep happiness? Spending time with people you love? Having adventures? Laughing?

3.)What is enough? I have a home I love (that’s paid for), a nice car, a healthy bank balance. Why do I even need more and more money? Sure I could buy a bigger house, a newer car – but what I have is enough for me. Remind yourself when you really already have enough.

4.)Is it about you? Or about society? Let’s face it, there’s a fashion and beauty industry pushing you to feel inadequate. If we all decide we are perfectly fine just as we are, they are gone. Same with providers of many other types of goods and services. I’m not judging – I love nice things. But each of use needs to know where our desires end and societal pressure begins. The hardest voice to hear in this world is your own.

5.)Are you holding yourself to a ridiculous standard? Think of someone (choose a regular person rather than a celebrity) who you think has a great life. What is it about their life you think is great? I seldom find myself thinking, “Oh I admire so-and-so – she’s so skinny!” I find myself thinking, “Missy has such a great life – she is surrounded by friends and family who love her.” I don’t think, “I wish I could trade places with Fred – he has such a huge home!” I think, “I’m so happy I don’t have to clean that place! Or hire an army to do it for me.” Why hold ourselves to a standard that really doesn’t matter?

Yes, how much you weigh is important if it is making you miserable. But when you find your mood set by what the scale says, you need to regroup. Skinny does not equal happy. The same goes for money. If you can’t take care of your needs (not your every desire and whim, your NEEDS), money is very important. But after a certain point, more money does not mean more happiness.

You can be too rich or too thin, but you can never be too happy. I wish much happiness for you.

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