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Simple Prosperity

November 11th, 2009


Not long ago, I posted an article on how living frugally is actually living a hedonistic lifestyle? Well here’s something along the same lines:

Here is the link if you would like to read more. This is an excerpt I grabbed out of an interview with the author of Affluenza, Davin Wann on the Millionaire Mommy’s website: http://millionairemommynextdoor.com/2009/03/simple-prosperity-finding-the-sweet-spot/

What does simple prosperity look like on a day-to-day basis?

In our current way of life, the typical American will spend six months of his life sitting at red lights, eight months opening junk mail, one year searching for misplaced items, two years trying to return calls to people who aren’t there, four years cleaning house, and five years waiting in line – all activities that relate at least in part to our lives as consumers.


When we choose real wealth, we change the way we spend both time and money. We begin choosing things like healthy, great-tasting food; work that challenges and stimulates us; and spiritual connection with a universe that’s infinitely larger than our stock portfolio. Instead of more stuff in our already-stuffed lives, we can have fewer things but better things of higher quality; fewer visits to the doctor and more visits to museums and friends’ houses. More joyful intimacy, more restful sleep, and more brilliantly sunny mornings in campsites on the beach – bacon & eggs sizzling in the skillet and coffee brewing in the pot. Greater use of our hands and minds in creative activities like building a table, knitting a sweater, or harvesting the season’s first juicy, heirloom tomato. These are the things that matter, and we can choose them, if we spend less time, money, and energy being such obedient consumers.

A great example of the social and personal benefits of a new lifestyle already occurred in Michigan from 1930 to 1985, when the Kellogg Company operated with a six-hour day. With two hours more discretionary time, Kellogg employees transformed the lifestyle of Kalamazoo, where many of them lived. Families and neighborhoods benefited from the extra time; schools included curricula about the “arts of living” and parental involvement in schools – such as “room mothers” in the classrooms – increased. Parks, community centers, skating rinks, churches, libraries, and YMCAs became centers of activity. Kellogg workers recall that the balance of their lives shifted from working to living. What to do with their time became more important than what to buy with their money.

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  1. November 11th, 2009 at 11:41 | #1

    I completely agree with this idea. After I was laid off from my job last winter, I was forced to take stock of things that really mattered. I was already headed in that direction, looking for ways to simplify (and reading the Unclutterer and Zen Habits blogs obsessively). While it was awful not to have an income, it made me realize that I was a whirling-dervish of accumulated unhappiness, and I was trying to buy my way out of it–which is unusual for me, because I am typically frugal. It also made me re-think the value of time.

  2. November 11th, 2009 at 12:18 | #2

    Now, this is truly fascinating. Thank you for sharing. Brilliant.

  3. November 11th, 2009 at 13:42 | #3

    Not only do I appreciate u sharing this article, I also appreciate the way you openly share your personal thoughts on finances, living simply, doing the most with what you have. One thing you shared a while back really hit home with me…you were talking about a coat you had bought that was a few sizes too big and you made the comment that it would have to do for a few years until you had the money to replace it. Frankly, that thought would never have crossed my mind, even though it should. I don’t have lots of money, but for too long, I have acted like I do. I am in the process of ‘rebooting’ my money mindset and your blog is one of the inspirations in my toolkit. Also, I love love love your daily roundup and I have been doing that as well. It helps keep me on track in all my choices. Thanks again and sorry for the long post. FYI, I am in the process of starting my own blog now!

  4. November 11th, 2009 at 19:57 | #4

    I am envious of that work schedule! I think the idea of having more time sounds divine. And I definitely spend less when I have more time for myself, not only for the reasons mentioned in your post, but also because I’m less stressed and don’t feel such a need to compensate with junk food or buy shortcut products (like housecleaning stuff). I’d gladly give up some of my salary if I could work a bit less!

  5. November 11th, 2009 at 19:59 | #5

    (Not that I am complaining about being gainfully employed, you understand–especially not in this economy. I just find that I often struggle with the time/money balance–).

  6. November 11th, 2009 at 20:41 | #6

    Great post. I’m not employed right now and looking to find something I enjoy rather than any old 9-5 that won’t make me happy.

    I left you something at my blog 🙂

  7. Robin
    November 11th, 2009 at 21:39 | #7

    I truly enjoyed this post. Thanks for posting Kristi! Have a nice vacation!

  8. Patricia
    November 12th, 2009 at 01:53 | #8

    Hello Kristi, I love reading your blog and it’s one of the first things I go to every morning (I’m in Europe). I thought the concept of Kellog’s 6-hour day was fascinating and dug a little deepter – here’e one of the articles I found, it’s a book review. http://eh.net/bookreviews/library/0115 It turns out that the 6-hour shift was brought in during the depression and was phased out almost completely after the war. Mostly the only people left working these shifts were women and older workers (in fact, it became an excuse for wage inequality). It was phased out, firstly, because W.K. Kellog, who was very altruistic, bowed out from the company and secondly, because the company became unionized, with all that that entails. Also, this article makes mention of male workers’ feelings of inadequacy at working less, bringing in less money, and mentions how wives were tired of having the men at home underfoot! The biggest drive to let go of the 6-hour shift came during the ’50s, which is probably when the whole materialistic way of life started. I think it’s such a shame that this happened, but probably inevitable. Anyway, thanks for this thought-provoking post!

  9. November 12th, 2009 at 08:08 | #10

    This is such a great concept. I could not agree more.

  10. November 12th, 2009 at 12:52 | #11

    I agree the Kellogg concept was good in theory and I too have always thought the European idea of holiday is mentally healthy. I’m not sure we (Americans) would be willing to bear the cost:-( But still a wonderful concept!

Comments are closed.

What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.