Monday, September 25, 2023

For goodness’ sake be happy with what you have

Hearing people complain about how unhappy they are with their high-end stuff makes me really sad.

They possess something pretty fancy that makes people go “Wow!” … and then they point out all of the flaws in it or talk about similar items that are even better than the one they have.

People aren’t down on their stuff in the beginning

I have a Facebook group on currency collecting that has nearly 20,000 members.

Many of them joined the group to ask about a bill they found to see if it was worth anything. A lot of them got there because they reached a fancy serial number post on my blog through Google and got curious.

Because of this, the Cool Serial Facebook group has become a bit of a seeker’s church for entrepreneurial types who like to treasure-hunt in their wallets and purses.

Many of the members post a bill they found, and they’re so incredibly excited about it. They found a neat pattern and think it might be worth something more than face value.

I’ve got both entrepreneur and math nerd in my blood, so I can appreciate and get excited about the patterns that show up even if I know that it will be tough to get more than face value out of it. I go out of my way to see what they see in the bill. Unless they’re trolling the group, they posted it for a reason, and if the reason isn’t obvious then I ask.

People who have seen it all demean it all

My favorite members are encouraging like I am and look for the good in the posts.

There are some experienced collectors in the group that have nice collections and are gentle with beginners and casual collectors. They add to the group.

There’s also a group of collectors that are actively dismissive of most of the bills that beginners ask about. They’ll make fun of the post, offer less than face value for the bill, and just generally make it really clear that they think their bills are crap.

Sure, these are likely well-informed opinions and some people are more blunt than others, but too much of it just drags down the group.

There are other currency groups where there’s nothing done to restrain the negative comments, and spending time in the group just depresses me. (I run my group the way I do mainly to not be like the others.)

It all made more sense because of one brief exchange

I’m actually a member of several currency groups, and get posts from them in my feed.

The rarity and condition of the bills posted in one particular group are really, really nice. They simply don’t allow the posting of every bill everyone wants to show. And that’s fine.

One bill, in particular, was an extraordinarily cool one: a $500 bill with serial number 5. Yes, they used to make bills with that high denomination, and yes that’s a serial number 00000005.

A five hundred with serial number 5. Pretty neat, huh? Yeah, it’s an impressive note, and some of the hardest-to-please collectors in the group were very interested in it and impressed.

Well, the person who posted it titled it “Almost close one.” A little puzzled, I asked exactly what he was looking for and why he was down on this otherwise spectacular note. He told me:

“Serial number 5 is cool but it isn’t a number 1!”

He’s not wrong, I guess. Serial number 1 is the bill that people fight over the most and it carries real bragging rights — and requires real money! — to own one.

But … you have a killer note in your hand and you’re already wishing it was something else.
More than a little sad, honestly.

Enjoy your workout on the hedonistic treadmill bud.

That’s when it made more sense: People who are down on everyone else’s stuff may be just projecting their dissatisfaction with their own stuff. They think others’ bills are garbage, but they think their own bills are garbage, too. Nothing’s good enough.

This can be applied to anything

If you’re at 9% body fat, you may not be happy with that and want to be at 8.5% body fat.

If you make $100k a year, you may not be happy with that and want to make $120k.

If your yacht is 150 feet long, you may not be happy with that and want a 200-foot one.

If you have a serial number 5, you may not be happy with that and want a serial number 1.

Consequently, the desire to get to 8.5% body fat robs you of the joy of already being at 9%. The desire to make $120k a year robs you of the joy of already making $100k. And so forth.

I get why people do this to themselves. I used to do it to myself with a number of things, particularly with my position at work and with my online writing. I compared myself to my peers who were whizzing past me, and in doing that it made what I had accomplished look inferior in comparison.

It’s a sad place to be in.

The antidote is to look at yourself and what you have and be happy. It’s a choice that we all can make (brain chemistry imbalances notwithstanding).

Be happy with your nice things

Is it wrong to want nicer things?

No, of course not.

But enjoy the nice things you have, and don’t let the nicer be the enemy of the nice.

Be happy with the nice things that you already own!

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