I am living on a rural off-grid farm in the Caribbean where I get lots of time digging in the dirt and time to think. I recommend it to anyone. But, if I may, I have come to think the expression “it is all in your mind” has some truths that are not self-evident but worth considering:

1. happiness – the study of happiness economics suggests that happiness is relative to our expectations. If you have a suitably low expectation, then you will be happy when the world turns out better than expected! This sounds STUPID on the surface, but modern media gives us a subconscious glossy view of reality. After a few days dealing with intractable mud and ant-bites I discovered that there is NOTHING in the world more wonderful than a simple hot shower. A comfortable bed, and reliable meals are precious elements of the good life, but it is hard to maintain happiness about these things when they come so transparently.

2. love – religious folks preach that one should love his fellow man, and that generosity of spirit will be rewarded in the afterlife. More pragmatic philosophers suggest giving is its own reward. But these platitudes are difficult to internalize. I have come to realize that a loving and generous attitude creates internal happiness because when you are generous to others, you become generous toward yourself – you become more forgiving of your own shortcomings and disappointments. I do not mean you should delegate yourself to the couch-potato position and forgive yourself for succumbing, but don’t be harsh with yourself for the things you have not yet achieved.

So by all means, set goals and go after them! Make a plan (don’t just save money and hope an affordable plan finds you) and implement it. And more importantly, learn to enjoy every moment spent along the way – that is where your life is. :)