Thursday, June 7, 2012

Go Sell Crazy Somewhere Else!

"Go sell crazy somewhere else, we're all full up, here!" (Jack Nicholson, As Good as It Gets)

As I have noted time and again in this blog, your mental health is closely tied into your financial health.  And by that, I don't mean just the idea that you are "sane" - whatever that means - but that you have a rational grip on reality.

Few people do.

It is tragic that some folks have severe mental health problems and require professional care and pharmaceutical solutions.  Many of us make fun of the mentally ill or secretly (or openly) believe it is their "fault" they are ill.  Yet no one today would say the same about someone with cancer (as they did in the past).  Well, maybe not everyone.  A lot of people still blame sick people for being sick.

But mental health goes beyond the "Crazy" people in the world.  Many "functional" people out there are still not operating in the world of reality.  After all, a payday loan is not something a rational thinking person would take out.  Renting to own furniture is insane, if you'll pardon the term.  And yea, you'd have to be crazy to spend $4000 on bling rims for a $2000 car - and have them last barely a year.

People make very bad economic decisions when they are disassociated from reality.  And many of us are a little crazy in this way.  We convince ourselves that poor financial planning and poor economic choices are, in fact, good ones.  We lie to ourselves, and lie to each other, in this regard.

(Of course, even if you make rational decisions in life, you can still make mistakes, based on bad market data, or just plain bad luck.  But on the whole, most people become economically disadvantaged by making poor choices based on a skewed perception of reality - a minor form of insanity present in us all).

It takes a lot of effort on your own part to try to think rationally and non-emotionally when making business and financial decisions.  As a result, you need time and effort to do this, and when people start crowding your life with their problems and concerns, it can create a cacophony of noise that drowns out your own rational thinking.

The TeeVee is a huge source of this noise - in the programs and the ads.  TeeVee prevents you from thinking rationally, as you see 500 ads for huge SUV and pretty soon, you are thinking that leasing a new monster truck makes sense.

The secret to avoiding this - and avoiding a lot of crazy in your own life - is to live a quieter life.  Unplug the TeeVee, spend more time with yourself, taking care of yourself, and less time with noisy friends, their gossip, and their problems.

This is not to say you need to live like a hermit, only that you should make sure your life has lots of quiet, contemplative time.   But if you think about it, the classic philosopher or guru is depicted as a hermit, living on a mountaintop, trying to get away from the noise of humanity, so he can think.  Or think of the absent-minded professor, profound in thought, out of touch with the minutiae of daily living.  You can't think very well if your world is drowned in noise and commotion.

Most people do the opposite, drowning their life in noise, activity, and motion.  Many folks today augment this with electronic devices - constantly Twittering, e-mailing, Facebooking, texting, or whatever, all while wearing earphones playing music.  The end result of all of this is a lot of communication, but very little actual content.  It is a communications network designed for the Sarah Palins of the world - doncha know!

It is not "selfish" to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself.  And by that, I don't mean running up credit card or other debt, to buy a new luxury car or buy a spa vacation.  Being kind to yourself means getting your financial house in order, so you do not have to stress about debt for the rest of your life or wonder where your next paycheck is coming from.

And in that regard, we come to the title of this piece.  "Go sell crazy somewhere else!" is my motto.  Because we have a hard enough time trying to take care of ourselves here.