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You + Batshite = Happiness

02/07/2011

In the equation above, the term “batshite” represents the concept that self-preservation in the twenty-first century requires action that is radically unorthodox. It doesn’t represent Batshite the blog. If it did, the equation would look more like this:

You + Batshite = Breathtaking All-Enveloping Love

But the message of the first equation is this: living in a way that won’t further aggravate the angry bear that is our ravaged environment has the added effect of increasing happiness.

Cultivating a batshite approach will inevitably save you money. In fact, I’d wager the relationship between how batshite you are and how much money you save is directly proportional. Environmentalism is (or should be) based on principles of frugality and recycling. This won’t just reduce costs to humanity and the environment–it will drastically reduce your costs as well.

Obviously buying less stuff saves you money. But you can take being batshite much further. For instance, you can choose to pay rent instead of buying a house. Not only does this discourage both the further despoiling of nature and the extraction of new materials, it also spares you the headaches of property tax, repairs, decades-long debt and insurance. Or, if you live in a city, you could reduce your carbon footprint by selling your car and deciding to commute on foot, by bicycle or by public transit–thereby sidestepping costs associated with automotive insurance, maintenance and fuel.

Clearly, choices that are good for the environment are also good for your bank account. But they will also make you more content.

As outlined in “The Story of Stuff”, this idea is in direct contradiction to conventional thinking. According to the logic of consumerism, we are deficient in our natural state. Advertising tells us how shitty our lives are, and that the only way to feel better about it is to buy more. That isn’t true. We quickly become accustomed to the novelty brought by new purchases. Shopping does not result in long-term happiness.

If you change your behaviour to be more environmentally friendly, however, not only will you be satisfied in the knowledge that you are contributing to the preservation of the species, you will also be able to work less. The more environmentally conscious you are the more you will save, and the more you save the less you will have to work. You can reduce your overtime hours, work part-time instead of full-time or even take time off, depending on the nature of your employment.

More free time means more time to do things that are proven to actually make people happy, like spending time with friends and family. When asked what he learned from his study that tracked the happiness of 268 men over 72 years, George Vaillant responded “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

Don’t just take my word from it! Happiness experts agree. Leo Babauta writes the widely-read Zen Habits. In his post titled “a brief guide to life” he gives his rules for leading a happy life, and most of them benefit the environment as well as personal happiness. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, points to Leo Tolstoy’s own rules. Many of these are also environmentally inclined, though I find one of his rules–unrelated to sustainability issues–to be deeply unpalatable.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. The GeWf permalink
    02/27/2011 6:34 PM

    “Advertising tells us how shitty our lives are, and that the only way to feel better about it is to buy more. That isn’t true.”

    Maybe not true for you, because truth is subjective.

    I have had long term happiness from things I’ve bought.
    I brought joy to others with products I’ve sought
    I know I should be happy with what I’ve got
    but im not.

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  1. Carnival of Wealth #27 – Feb 27 2011 Edition — Personal Dividends - Money+Lifestyle

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