Is Your Life Fiction Or Non-Fiction?

Are your life choices and decisions based in reality or fiction? Do you feel entitled to a better standard of living than you can currently afford? Are you deep in debt because of it? These are questions I always ask myself when I see stories of people living in trailer parks but driving $40,000 cars, school bus drivers living in $800,000 homes, or single women having 14 children when they are on welfare. Why do people try to live the life of a millionaire while working at minimum wage jobs? It would be an interesting psychological study, I think, to really look deep down into the psyche of the people who act out this kind of behavior.

I do believe that there are the obvious causes of this behavior, such as the “Keep up with the Joneses” routine or the “I will buy my way to happiness” route, but there has to be more than that. It’s almost as if people do, in fact, feel entitled to a certain standard of living, even if their means do not justify it. They are living a very fictional life, both in substance and in their mind, which just leads to even more unhappiness. They pretend to their family, their friends, their neighbors, their co-workers and even themselves.

I am always quick to blame TV for some of this behavior, because it does seem like the more crazy crap that happens on TV, the more fictional some Americans’ lives become. More reality TV, giant houses, blingy cars and trucks, celebrity rehab centers, more game shows encouraging contestants to be greedy, etc. – the nonsense never ends. It is very easy to blame TV for some of this behavior, but at some point one has to take responsibility for one’s actions, as no one can stop the spiral of a fictional life other than the person living it. I don’t know if I was living a fictional life or just making stupid mistakes, but back in the day I bought whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it – and I had no one to blame at the end of that run other than myself. The credit card bills were my responsibility, and I had to basically make amends with myself as I paid them off. I had to start living a non-fiction life of living within my means, not caring what other people thought of me or my “stuff”, and working to ensure my own financial stability. No one else could do it for me, I had to do it myself. It was a long road, but I finally got it right.

I guess the point of my writing this is to remind anyone out there feeling like they are living a non-authentic life that the only way it will change is if you decide to change it. You cannot really blame it on TV, your friends, your boss, or anything else – it all comes back to you. Living a fictional life only leads to worse and worse situations, and it’s better to realize what you are doing sooner rather than later. It’s never too late to stop it, you are just better off the earlier you do so.

Stop living a fictional life and start living a non-fictional life; it’s the only way to go.

photo by kretyen

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Comments (19)

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  1. I agree; life needs a purpose. Some people find it in pretending to be rich; others find it in a myriad of other ways. However, the only true way to find happiness is through following God. Read the Bible; it is God’s Word.

  2. Neal Frankle says:

    Great post and crucial reminder. What helps me sometimes is I ask myself, ” What’s important about money?” I always come back to family. It’s never about stuff.

    If I’m clear about my values, its easier to make better decisions. Often, I realize that I can achieve my goals without money.

    For example, I may not pursue a business idea because, even though it may be lucrative, if it is contra to my primary goal….what’s the point?

    It’s not always about MORE MONEY. Sometimes the MORE MONEY takes away more than it provides.

    Thank you.

  3. I love this. My life may not be all that glamorous or exciting, but it’s real and that’s a lot more than a lot of other people can say. Great dose of perspective, David.

  4. david says:

    Nate, I have to disagree with you there. Everyone has their own opinion, but for me, religion is not the only way. Thanks for the comment.

    Neal, I could not agree more. Money does often take away more than it gives.

    Emily, I am with you there. I may not be flashy, but I am happy.

  5. Miranda says:

    Sometimes I get caught up in a fiction world of: Let’s get it now — my husband will get a raise next year! But what if he doesn’t. I think it’s very important that you live in the non-fiction world of what you have now. Great post, and a good reminder that we need to be realistic about our life choices.

  6. Jerry says:

    We are living in SE Europe at the moment, and this leads us to become very “reality-based” in our standard of living. It also gives us some insurance that we will see what enormous excess we enjoyed in the States. It’s been humbling, to say the least. We know families with 6 kids living in a one bedroom apartment.

  7. Tina says:

    Wanted to let you know I enjoyed this and many other of your blogs… yours was the first blog I added to RSS.(just learned what it was a week ago)

    Living in reality.. on one income.

  8. david says:

    That’s great to hear Tina!

  9. Michele says:

    A lot of people just are not grounded in reality when it comes to lifestyle

    She told me once, I was going to buy an Escalade, but my friend went out and bought one after I told her I was looking at them and she stole my thunder so I am going to get something else. (those were her words, “stole my thunder”). She is on disability, brings in about $900 a month from that, husband makes $12 an hour, live in an apartment, paycheck to paycheck, and no way can buy even the spare tire for an Escalade.

    I think if people stopped watching so much tv they would stop wanting stuff they cant afford and dont really need. Does a family of 4 really need a 3500 square foot house?

  10. goodman says:

    This is good advice. TV, Magazine ads and billboards makes us lust for something we cannot afford. It will be up to us to stand up to it, otherwise we will be slaves to credit.

  11. rocketc says:

    This is a good post, David. We all need to live in reality and accept the fact that things will never truly make us happy.

    Along the same lines, companies can also live a fiction, but over time, the free market will catch up with them.

    How do you feel about the government bailing out big companies who are not living in reality as well as individuals who made financial decisions that were not based in reality? Bankruptcy, foreclosure and layoffs are the penalty for for a fantasy life. When the government shields us from those realities, it perpetuates a myth.

  12. david says:

    I don’t like it – but since both political parties seem to love giving out money, either to individual or big business, seems that none of us have a choice in the matter.

  13. rocketc says:

    Yes, I have been very disappointed in how the party that I vote for the most often has started to behave fiscally.

    I still think there are individuals who are opposing these policies and I plan to support them as best as possible. I came withing a hair’s breadth of voting Libertarian last election. Ron Paul, Mark Sanford are a few who are saying the right things about government spending. There are even a few Dems who don’t like all the spending.

  14. david says:

    rocketc – someone posted this link calling out Ron Paul about his feelings about bank regulation :


    Wanted to get your thoughts, I really know nothing about the guy, to be honest.

  15. rocketc says:

    I believe that his point of view is sound. I would support and I think he might support legislation that requires banks to purchase their own private deposit insurance – similar to liability insurance that companies and individuals purchase.

    Banks would be welcome to insure deposits at whatever level they like – $50K, $100K, $200K. Good, well-run banks would get premium rates from insurers and poor banks with risky investments would get higher rates. Obviously, this places some responsibility on the depositor to do some research . . . you can be sure that I probably would not open an account for $100K in a bank where it was only insured for $50K.

    Through FDIC and especially TARP, the government is rewarding risky decisions and poorly run banks, while punishing sound and profitable banks.

    TARP has also become a political tool: banks who strongly support certain candidates are getting preferential treatment. Strong gov’t control of the financial system leads to corruption.

  16. I like the fiction – non-fiction angle… it’s an effective way to think about finances. My local paper today had an insight article about a long-running Brazilian soap-opera actually creating long term societal changes (small families, more consumption etc…). There’s lots of fictional life out there!

  17. David says:

    Interesting idea Bill – too bad more TV doesn’t do the same!

  18. QOAS says:

    Just want to let you know I enjoyed this post and all your insights. Let us stop living in a dreamworld and start living in reality.

  19. Keith says:

    Very good “reality check” you gave here. Like so many of the comments have already stated, happiness cannot be found in the accumulation of things. Money is really just a tool and not the “end” one should seek. Good stuff, keep it coming! 🙂