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Doing More with Less: Improving yourself

Ruth Haag • Sep 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Two weeks ago, I wrote some suggestions about how to live with less money.  Some of the commentators were bothered that they were not able to have the luxuries that others had, and many commented on the fact that as adjusted for inflation, minimum wage is less now than it was in the 1960s.  Last week, my column showed that the number of hours needed to be worked at minimum wage to purchase items is fewer now than in the 1960s and thus, things cost less now.  In response to that column, some of the commentators felt that some people are born into better positions in life and have life easier all around.  True, we are all a product of the family we were born into.  But, what happens to us in life and how we handle those problems is not only related to the income that we were born into.  And, being born into a low income has strengthened many great people.

Solving Life problems

The last time that most of my family was all in the same room together was when our oldest daughter was married.  Before that, I always had the impression that only other people’s families had life-changing issues.  I remember looking around the room that day and thinking that each person in the room had met with a dire life event, and somehow came through it.  The group in the room shared four deaths of children, a debilitating stroke (not Bob’s at that time), two cases of infertility, a bankruptcy, a divorce and multiple career changes caused by lack of work.  That was when I realized that everyone has problems in life; the differences between people come from how they cope with these problem.

When faced with life-problems whether they be medical, monetary or relationships, each person has two options: either to complain and feel sorry for themselves, or to accept the problem and change themselves as a result of it.

How to move on

The best way to move on after a life-problem is to be willing to change your expectations.  Some things that you expected to happen didn’t; that’s OK, what are you going to do next?  It helps if you can actively find the good in your new situation.  Of course you can look back a bit and feel sorrow, but you can’t afford to stew in it.  Find something that you always wanted to do and now are able to do, because of your life-changing problem. 

Improve yourself

You can become more positive if you think about others.  

Instead of thinking about what others should do for you, how about thinking about what you can do for them? 

Here are some ideas of improvements that anyone can make today:

Stop yourself before you say or write anything rude

If you feel someone has treated you well, thank them

If you are able-bodied, park your car far out in the parking lot and walk in.  You get exercise and leave the closer spaces for the less able-bodied

If you see someone needing help, then help them.  For example, hold the door for young parents with baby strollers.

Instead of being irritated at a bad encounter with someone, think about what you can change in yourself to make the next interaction better

Give someone who is down or depressed a small gift

Share: if someone likes something that you have and you are not real attached to it, give it to them

Write to your mother

Send a card to a person who is ill

Maybe your neighbor didn’t mow their grass because their lawnmower is broken.  Strike up a conversation and find out.  Then offer to help.  Then help.


Think about the people who have helped you in life, and write them a note of thanks

Arrive on time

Check your grooming; do you look pleasant enough for everyone else to be with you?

Learn something new


Commentators:  What do you do when you want to improve yourself?

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