… and material possessions..
Once upon a time, there was a girl called Mel.
She had a great life.
She was enjoying much of her life and things were going well.
At one point, she had five houses, two businesses, three cars, was raising a son well on her own. She was doing the things that made people successful. And there was no doubt that mostly Mel was happy, with the normal ups and downs most people experience. But being an optimistic person, more ups than most people feel. A good life.
But now years later, there is a new Mel and that’s me. And I basically have nothing. I’m not destitute. But I can carry with me almost everything I own as I travel, in my medium suitcase, a cabin bag and handbag. That’s almost all I have. And my life is incredibly different. Now, I am truly happy. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t happy before. I didn’t understand what happy was, because I hadn’t experienced the level of happy that I have. You can’t know if you’ve never experienced it. An internal joy of life and just BEing.
In walking away from just about everything that I had, and all of the things that society covets as being worthwhile, I am so much happier, indescribably more happier. Things just fall into place for me. I live an incredible life, I see the most spectacular and interesting things. I meet and chat to interesting people. I have found the good in humanity. I get to play with beautiful pets and see how people really live in many places.
The irony is, that when I say to people that I’m so much happier with nothing, there’s also the argument that then I am putting some negativity around money; that I shouldn’t be trying to suggest that it’s not a good thing; that we shouldn’t associate money with evil. I’ve certainly been to so many “personal development” courses where they’ve said you have to disassociate the thought of money with evil because you’re repelling it. That you subconsciously don’t want it, because you see it as evil and/or you will change if you have it. People are saying to me that I only don’t want money, basically because I don’t have it. And if I had more money, then I could still live the life that I am, and be incredibly happy.
The reality is that there’s horses for courses. I’m not saying that everybody needs to live life and my lifestyle to be happy. I AM saying that with the level of unhappiness I see in people (or even the level of just barely “contentment”), that maybe it’s worth at least trying a period of minimalism, for say 1-2 years, and see how that fits. A little time is needed, because it takes some time to adjust!
I’m also not saying that I COULDN’T be happy with money/possessions, especially now that I’ve experienced how happy I can be.
What I’m saying is that I didn’t NEED the money to be happy. And I think that’s what we all forget, we all are waiting for a time when things will be easier. And we struggle so much to meet societal expectations, that we give up our happiness and our time to be able to do that. And it’s just NOT necessary. You may choose to, but I am suggesting that it CAN be a choice, you don’t need to feel pressured to live as society tells you. If you live your life as you do now, and it makes you truly happy, and gives you a sense of achievement that gives you meaning, that’s great. But so many people tell me they wish they could live a different life but can’t because they have mortgages/rent to pay, cars to pay off, bills etc etc.
For this Mel, if something changed and I ended on a path which brought me more money, I think I will also be much happier than I would have been than if/when I was wealthy before. But here is where I want to separate the discussion into money and material possessions. I cannot honestly see myself EVER feeling happy with a lot of material possessions – they provide stress, they give clutter (including blocking energy flow), they take up time to buy, care and maintain them. They take focus away from our connections with humans, animals, beauty and the planet. And most importantly for me they overwhelm me with a feeling of wastage and destruction, because I can see we are damaging the planet so much by our overconsumption. Now that I have simplified my life and it is taken up with BEing and Simply LIVEing, I cannot imagine a life revolving around busy-ness over acquiring and maintaining possessions. I happily live much of my life utilising the excesses from other peoples’s lives.
But money is different. I am not looking for it. I am perfectly happy without it . I am actively searching for ways to live my life utilising more barter and trust, rather than money, because it is a great social experiment and fun for me. But if I stumbled over a pot of money, I am unlikely to say I need to give it away (maybe I would, who knows?!) But I DO think I would be much happier with it now than if I had it before. Because I KNOW with absolute confidence that if I lost it all tomorrow, it wouldn’t matter. That I would be perfectly happy with nothing, like I have now. And I think that’s a really key difference, whether you have money or you don’t have money – for most people it’s the fear of not having enough or losing it that takes away our happiness. It’s the fear of what will happen if we don’t hoard enough to sure that we have a security for our future, as we think we need. And it’s all a false security anyway. But that’s what we think – that we have to save for retirement, we have to make sure we have enough to cover our bills, we need to make sure that we have enough for all of these things that we THINK we need. And yet, ironically, despite our best efforts, things outside our control can take it all away in an instant. Or we lose our health or a loved one and we realise how irrelevant it is.
With no possessions, I don’t have to have so much of that. I realize that I can survive (and thrive) on almost nothing. And that fear disappears. Even when people are very wealthy, and they don’t have any of the fears of not having enough, per se, they’re worried about people stealing it from them. They’re worried about making poor decisions and losing what they have. And they often want more and more possessions because they are so out of touch with themselves and the core of life, they actually don’t know what they would do with themselves or how to be happy, just in their own space with nothing. And so much of our fear of what will happen in our lives, revolves around money. Because we think we need some stash of it, and a heap of possessions, for survival and happiness.
I’m not saying that people have to live my life. I’m not saying the only way to be happy is to give up everything and to do what I’m doing. All I’m saying is that it can be amazing. It IS amazing for me, it CAN be amazing. Don’t give up your dreams. Don’t fall into this false world thing that you MUST love money, because otherwise it is just about your “stuff” around money; that you must not push it away from you. “Personal Development” courses/seminars will tell you is you need to lose your negative association with money, because money is not the root of all evil and things don’t get horrible if you have it. And that may well be true. But just as true is that you CAN lose all emotion over money, you CAN change your focus into LIVING rather than just ensuring you have enough and spending your life living in a a way to make sure you get enough.
You can be happy without it. I am living proof. You can be happy with it, you CAN be happy without it. There are many great ways to live an amazing life. Find one that brings you joy and be grateful for it every moment of the day.