What This Pirate Learned From Mr. Money Mustache: Part One

My next two blog posts will be about the single most useful blog I have ever come across.

In fact, it has been so useful, and came in such fortuitous timing that I can only credit the event to Providence. I was just about to graduate, get a job, and move out.

So while it didn’t neccesarily immediately change my life (it’s a personal finance blog, and I had no income to speak of) it certainly changed the trajectory of my life.

As I’ve mentioned briefly in other posts, I knew what I wanted out of life at the time, but I didn’t have the tools.

MMM gave me those tools.

I’ve had to break down this discussion into two parts. First, a discussion of what MMM calls “badassity,” and then another on not being what MMM calls a “consumer sucka,” and the financial independance that tends to follow.

Granted, this isn’t a personal finance blog, but you can’t have a proper pirate lifestyle blog if you don’t talk about the proper management of treasure.

Being a pirate is about rebelling against the powers that be, not about allowing said powers to bilk you out of your hard-earned loot. I mean, really.

And Now For Our Actual Topic…

Pirates Are Not Wusses

The premise here is two-fold. One: occasional, voluntary discomfort is good for you. And two: if you don’t like something, either do something about it or learn to live with it. No whining allowed.

Our first principle comes up frequently throughout the MMM blog, but especially in his discussion of hedonic adaption.

Basically, the idea is that pampering yourself makes you weaker. Physically, mentally, and often financially as well.

Going for a run when its chilly involves discomfort, but you come out of it invigorated and in better physical and mental health.

Cooking for yourself involves acquiring new skills, and might cut into the time you spend staring at a screen. But you’ll end up eating healthier, saving money, and gain confidence from having learned said new skills.

Forgoing HD or 3D, or choosing a smaller screen, might mean you notice differences in video quality…for maybe even a whole five minutes. But the money you save won’t go away.

Unless of course you waste it on something else.

At home, I watch stuff on my little laptop. When I go back to the family home to visit, I watch stuff on my parent’s HD TV. And yes, I notice the difference. But I stop noticing really, really quickly.

Just like you stop noticing your movie is 3D after a few minutes. That’s called hedonic adaption.

How powerful is this? A study on the subject found that the happiness level of a lottery winner, and a parapalegic had returned to normal six months after the events that changed their lives.

Humans are incredibly adaptable, and a good pirate uses this knowledge to maximize their enjoyment of life, and allocate resources to places that really matter.

When you upgrade comfort, you’re paying for something you won’t even notice after a while. Is that really worth it?

Things like skills, confidence, health, money in the bank. That’s what will last.

Now to our second point. A pirate’s life is a mixed bag, and some of it you won’t like so much.

(I should mention here that I am writing this as a person who hasn’t dealt with a lot of hardship compared to a lot of people. Therefore, dial up the amount of empathy and compassion you read into these words as suits your personal circumstances.)

As I said before, you can do one of two things. You can decide that, while a given situation is not what you’d prefer, but changing that situation would take resources away from areas you feel more strongly about.

This is why I still don’t have a car, a pet, a living room set, or a queen-sized bed, or a whole host of other things.

Or, you can decide that your situation is unacceptable and push your mental, financial etc resources into changing said situation.

Whiners (or in MMMspeak “complainypants”) can walk the plank.

If you’ve decided to do something about your situation, feel free to snarl, growl and make as much of a fuss as you like about it. The key is to keep your energy going in a direction that means something.

In sum, pirates do not sit on their rear ends feeling like lazy slugs and complaining about things in their lives that they could change.

Pirates get stuff done.

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