This is part of an ongoing series on happiness. I’m going to continue sharing everyday moments, experiences, and activities where I feel most happy. Since I believe the pursuit of happiness is something that binds humanity, and since one of the major reasons to attain financial freedom in the first place is to improve one’s happiness, I find it important to share aspects of my life where I feel like the pursuit of happiness is most successful. I hope to show through these regular insights that not only does it not take much (or any) money to improve one’s happiness, but also that financial freedom provides additional opportunities (via more time) to boost happiness.
Scream! Bang! Shout! Loud! Crash!
That’s how I used to wake up five to six days a week back when I was pulling down 50 or more hours per week in the auto industry.
Not only was I waking up to an electronic device – the dreaded alarm clock – screaming at me with noise, I was waking up like this very early in the morning.
Many days, I was up before the sun.
Call me crazy but I think the sun should always be up before me. Its job of providing the world with light, warmth, and life is far more important than anything I could ever possibly do.
The way you wake up sets your whole day in motion.
Try waking up to a fire alarm.
And then try waking up to bacon and eggs.
See which one puts you in a better mood right away.
Well, waking up to a loud noise, for me, kind of ruins my day before it even starts, especially when it’s happening far earlier than I’d like it to be. Repeating this process over and over again, day after day, for years on end just compounds the issue.
A first-world problem for sure, but it’s nonetheless still a problem.
As an aside, just think of why one needs an alarm clock in the first place: the alarm clock is necessary because you’re not naturally able to wake up at whatever time you’re waking up. You’re getting up earlier than your body is telling you to, which is why you need the noise to rouse you from your sleep.
Now being able to operate without the aid of an alarm clock has allowed me to appreciate just how much happier I am with this seemingly small change in my life.
But how small of a change is it?
It’s actually huge!
While it seems like a small change at first thought – you’re just switching the setting from “on” to “off” – it requires the framework of financial freedom in order to make the change, or at least somehow being in a position where you’re working on a schedule that aligns really well with your natural circadian clock.
It costs nothing to turn off my alarm clock. At the same time, it costs everything, because I couldn’t do it without the complete control over my schedule that financial freedom offers me.
And that’s kind of what this ongoing series is all about.
People think money and happiness operate under a 1:1 ratio, whereby more or less of the former will result in an equivalent change in the latter.
But it really is the small (and cheap!) things in life that I find drive the most long-term happiness for me. These things cost very little direct money (or no money at all) but they do sometimes require the freedom I’ve bought myself upfront. It’s not the sports car or McMansion that’s going to bring you lasting happiness but instead the fundamental changes in your overall lifestyle.
Being able to wake up when my body tells me it’s supposed to is such an incredible luxury, and worth way more to me than any luxury good I could possibly think of.
I don’t like conforming to a typical schedule that’s been dictated by religious and agrarian roots, where people get up early and work/rest on predetermined days.
Why should I wake up at a time that someone hundreds of years ago determined was best for me? Why should I only rest on days that are determined by a religion I may not want any part of?
It’s all so silly. The only one who should set my schedule is me.
Check this out. You can see that a human being experiences the sharpest rise in blood pressure at 6:45 a.m. under the normal circadian biological clock.
So I’m being awoken by a sudden and loud noise precisely when my blood pressure is rising sharply? Great timing!
Moreover, the best coordination happens in the mid-afternoon. The fastest reaction time comes around 3:30 p.m. This is occurring right around the time the normal workday is starting to come to a close.
“Hey, boss! I’m peaking over here,” says the worker.
And the boss responds, “Oh, that’s great. But I don’t care. We do what we’ve always done because that’s just what we do. So it’s time to go home. See you tomorrow!”
To make matters worse for me, personally, I’m a night owl. I naturally operate under a slightly different biological clock, where everything is pushed a bit later.
For example, instead of experiencing peak muscle strength at 5:00 in the evening, I feel strongest around 8:00 p.m. So on and so forth.
Maybe you experience something similar. Maybe you’re actually a morning person, where everything is advanced a little bit. Either way, being able to wake up, go to sleep, and generally operate as your body tells you to is just such an incredible gift.
I personally find myself getting tired around 2:00 a.m. And then I tend to not be tired any longer around 10:30 in the morning.
So that’s what I do: I go to bed when I’m tired. I wake up when I’m no longer tired. Simple.
This seemingly small change in my life – ridding myself of the alarm clock – has led to a profound improvement in my happiness level. I can say without a doubt that this is one of the biggest benefits of being financially free.
Others can chase… whatever it is they’re chasing. The pie in the sky, which is perhaps hovering weightlessly near the balcony of a penthouse somewhere. I wouldn’t know. I don’t care.
But nothing puts a smile on my face like slowly waking up from a great night’s sleep, precisely when my body decides to naturally stop sleeping.
Instead of a bang and a scream, I get a warm, friendly kiss from Kiwi. She also loves waking up not long before many workers are starting their lunch breaks, at which point we go for a nice walk together. It’s not a bad way to start the day. Certainly better than a sharp rise in blood pressure and a blaring alarm, which… raises my blood pressure.
Find that waking up sans alarm clock does wonders for your happiness? Would being able to turn the alarm clock off permanently be a great luxury for you? Why or why not?
Thanks for reading.