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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On Options, Tasks, and The Geography Of Happiness

If you're like me and Wandrin Lloyd, you're over making New Year's resolutions. They only serve to take us out of the "now," the place we'd rather be, but keep overshooting due to the momentum of Tasks (resolution based goals). Lately, the looser the "plan," the better I feel... the faster the world goes, the more I want to slow it down. 

I worked my ass off in blue collar "trenches" in order to have lots of "Options" someday. Guess what? "Someday" always seems to be around the next corner, what with anemic real estate values and psychotic investment strategies on Jitterbug Lane (Wall Street). A CD renewal last week brought a whopping one tenth of one percent. Now we have Options, baby... Options to go back to work, that is.

So "Options" and "loose Plans" gets blown up by the "Money Changers." Boy, if I only had a whip and immunity from prosecution I'd pull a "Jesus Christ" fit in the old Fed "Temple." So there's nightmares of "Treadmills" and "Tasks" reemerging on Oak Street. Did you ever notice the inverse relationship between Options and Tasks? It seems the more Tasks one has, the fewer Options available to them. 

For instance, and based on personal experience, I see "Employment" as a Treadmill... a Task... and something to be escaped in ones "Golden Years." There are exceptions, of course, but in general; if you are not a Boss, you are likely dumped on for what few and minor things you do not execute with normal perfection, and ignored for the myriad of things you do right. Just my experience...  

But, I also know from experience that too many Options can be the Mother of Procrastination... we could do this, or we could do that, or we could go here, or we could go there. The Psych/Soc major in me wants to know the relationship between Happiness and Options. In my youth I associated Options with Wealth... Gee, if I had enough money I could do anything, go anywhere! Wouldn't that make one Happy, doing all the anythings and anywheres they want?

After a little (and I mean "little") armchair research, it turns out that the relationship between Options and Happiness is also inverse, i.e., the more Options, the less Happy. Gee, indeed. 

This, of course, left me wondering (what doesn't leave me wondering?) about the "Geography of Joy." Not so much who, but where do the Happiest people on earth live? I think Scamps touched on this when they were on their World Tour last year. Drum roll, please...

After querying residents from 148 countries on their degree of "Happiness," the Galluping Pollsters anointed Panama as having the "Happiest" people in the world. Huh, that suggests I was correct in predicting an inverse relationship between Options (Wealth) and Happiness; wonder why?

Are Panamanians somehow better at living in the "Now" than the rest of the world? Could it have anything to do with the fact that they don't have enough money to have "Options?" Might Options (Money) be the evil root of "Unhappiness?" Naw, couldn't be. Why some of the richest people I know of are Happy... take Hollywood, for instance... oops, bad example :).

So you are dying to know; if not in Hollywood, where fame and fortune abound, where? Where are the Happiest People In The Whole Wide World located. Is there a Geography component to Joy? Drum roll, please... 

Seven of the top ten Happiest places are smaller Latin American countries. It seems the Happiness factor has an inverse relationship to modernized ("developed") countries, even Latin ones.  

Is it the relaxed Latin work ethic... the siestas, margaritas and señoritas? America allows for the occasional "three martini lunch" for "business" purposes, but not siestas with señoritas during work shifts. So how did America fare on the "Happy" scale? We came in at number 33. It seems the Beatles were right, "money can't buy me love," and, evidently, it doesn't buy Happiness, either. 

It might surprise you to learn that some of the "people least likely to report positive emotions live in Singapore, the wealthy and orderly city-state that ranks among the most developed in the world."  A businessman in the prosperous Asian metropolis said, "We work like dogs and get paid peanuts. There's hardly any time for holidays or just to relax in general because you're always thinking ahead: when the next deadline or meeting is. There is hardly a fair sense of work-life balance here." Sound familiar?

You may want to keep that in mind before you "resolve" your way deeper into the "American Dream" this year. Time is more valuable than money, unless you are filling it up with Tasks.
Damn the treadmills. Full speed ahead!

This might be one of the exceptions to "Money can't buy me love."

Moving Snow...

Lovely Ouray is still Lovely in winter


  1. Much to think about of course as always... or should we? Why? Beautiful Photos.
    Happy New Year.
    Ara and Spirit

  2. Ara and Spirit,
    I know... can't help myself :((
    We must cross paths again in 2013!
    mark and bobbie

  3. Where to begin? First, great shots as usual. Almost makes me want to be there.

    Well, if I were nice and warm looking out of some large windows that is.

    As to CD rates. This is one of the best sites to collect valid info I have found. It has led me to some good choices over the years.


    Sallie Mae bank is paying 1.05% on money market accounts right now. Never thought I would think that is a good rate but times change.

    The good thing about Ally Bank is their early withdrawal penalty. You give up only 60 days interest.

    Finally, on choices you should listen to this.


    The first talk addresses choices and how having too many might not be a good thing.

    We are already planning on joining you at Zion next year.


  4. Well it sounds like I am in line to have a happy retirement. Few options and simple accommodations. Actually I feel happy and incredibly blessed right now! If I could only have a camera to get awesome pics I would be blissful!!

  5. Low interest yields,that is why I am workamping. When I was in my 20's and opened my first IRA account at a bank, it was paying 17% interest. What happened to my projections for a healthy retirement account balance? Too many choices just drive me crazy, and I spend a lot of time thinking should I go here or there next. I have spiral notebooks full of options from my internet research, a lot of wasted time. I should just get behind the wheel and see where I end up.

  6. Full-time RVing is our option of choice. It allows the variety, the solace, the beauty we crave on a budget that doesn't cripple the bank account. Now your photos are spectacular, and Ouray high on our list, but thinking we may have to wait until summer/fall! Enjoy...

  7. Maikel & Susan here.
    1. Is Goldie getting relaced with an EarthRoamer?
    2. Two of the happiest people are in Catalina State Park.
    3. Those two people are looking at Costa Rica as a potential for the future. Possibly. That is always up there and very 'American' friendly. (Maikel is saying right now... How come I don't know about these things???)

  8. 4. Where's the 'Y' in Box Canon?

  9. Geography, money, happiness. Three disparate perspectives. Not all "Earthroamers" require an earthroamer. Just a desire and a willingness to roll with the punches. Not a lot of dough, some cold nights, a dinner of beans and cornpone. Just a few sticks to throw on a short-lived fire and then shivering underneath an incredibly starry sky..... Damn those treadmills. -Scamp

  10. Jim,
    Thank you for the CD info. And as to:
    "Never thought I would think that is a good rate but times change"
    Man O Man. The way I look at it, so there are a few places you can get a whopping 1% return... Unless you are a millionaire, you can't live on that kind of return, and if you were a millionaire, it doesn't matter so much what the return is if your financial head is screwed on straight.
    i really enjoyed your NPR link to the TED Radio Hour and Barry Schwartz's segment/interview!!! It really reaffirms some of this post's points... in a humorous light :)
    I love his quote from the show, "If you want to be happy, lower your expectations." Ha!
    Cool that you will be joining the Zion Pilgrimage!!! Bring Debbie and Elliot, too! :))

    K Explores,
    A simple life is better, whether it's forced on you or not. "Stuff" is heavy, even if you don't take it with you. You can feel the weight of it sitting in storage!
    On the Camera... you don't need to spend a fortune on a camera... with powerful zoom lenses... to get great photos. I recommend Canon's Power Shot Digital Elph 300 HS 12.1 megapixels. It's what I use for 90% of my blog shots and it fits in my shirt pocket. The secret is to hold very still :))

    I remember buying treasury notes and CD's at 10%, and being greedy by not grabbing up long term ones... thinking, "what if the return rates go higher." Brother, I should have put every penny I could scrounge up into those things.
    Sometimes "Plans" get in the way of Ms Destiny... just go and see where she leads you :)) On the other hand, it would be nice to see you (along with others) in Zion next November... That's a good plan :))

    Believe it or not, a couple of RV'ers stay the winter in Lovely Ouray... not that I would, mind you :)). Look us up this summer... you can't beat Ouray from June till November.

    Maikel and Susan Wise Guys,
    1. No, Goldie is $100 K cheaper than Earth Roamer!
    2. I believe we will be joining those happy people soon.
    3. Costa Rica sounds nice right about now...
    4. Like Cañon City, the "Y" is sometimes missing in favor of a more Latin spelling.
    Two weeks and counting down, Amigos!!!

    I know an Earth Roamer would not make me happy... in fact, i would be miserable at spending so much money on one. But a guy must drool at certain things... E R is one of those things :))
    Goldie and Blue will suffice :)
    Thanks, Mark

  11. I also find "stuff ownership" inversely proportional to happiness as well. After I finally liberated myself from the 30 year mortgage, my "happiness quotient" increased as I got intimately familiar with my good friends Craigslist and ebay. I am slowly working back toward my college days mantra where "everything must fit in my car, or I have too much." ;-)

    By the way Emigrant Direct online bank offers 0.50% savings account, with no term limits or penalties for withdrawal. I have used them for 5 years now, and very happy with their service.

  12. Suzanne,
    My nephew had a "vintage" and humongous Oldsmobile station wagon in college. All his "stuff," room for friends, no depreciation, and a place to sleep. At my age I need a bigger "station wagon," it's called a Lazy Daze :))
    Simplify! Or be crushed under the weight of your "stuff."
    Thanks for your info, too.

  13. cowboy geography; I'm here. I have a dollar. Spent it. Now, I don't have to worry 'bout what to do with that gol' darn pesterin' dollar! ;)

    Mostly, folks that have few options are happier? Likely because they are simply ignorant of the possibilities.

    Happiness is, I think, in looking around and seeing that you like where you are. If you don't, pack your warbag... and get on down the road. Happiness resides truly between your ears.

    If someone is happier in the squalor and tyranny that is much of Central America... than the person walking along a trail in the High Rockies... or splitting the wind on a fine Yamaha on the Pacific Coast Highway... Then I'd have to say that those two fellers in the Rockies... or on the PCH... need to invest in a lil' introspection. The problem is between their ears...not in where their feet are standing.

    as for CD's... I'm ignorant and broke... So I'm Happy! :)

  14. CowBoy Brian,
    Sometimes you can string together a paragraph that really makes sense...

  15. Laverne here:

    Mark, I have to agree with Cowboy Brian, Central America has never appealed to me either...

    And try as I may, I cannot slow this fast speeding world..

    Want to find the dog book to read, "only thing worth a solitary dime, is old dogs, children, and watermelon wine."

    Keep sending those postcards of Lovely Ouray blanketed in her winter coat. Love it! Happy New Year to you and Bobbie


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