So I recently watched the Netflix documentary called "Minimalism" and it really got me thinking. Minimalism isn't just about de-cluttering our physical space, it's about de-cluttering our lives. So many of us hold intense attachments to material things, things that we already have and things that we want. In order to acquire things that we want, we must work. When you think about it, if you lived a purely minimalist life, with only the bare minimum of possessions needed, in a small (relatively) inexpensive home and with a low carbon footprint, how much money would you actually need to survive? I can tell you from my experience, for most of us it's WAY less than we're actually making. And yeah, it probably sounds terrifying to think about making the shift to a minimalist lifestyle, I completely agree. Most of us identify with our belongings, we create our own styles through the things we wear and the things we acquire within our homes. Why would I give up everything I know, all of the luxuries I work so hard to afford for myself?
Minimalism is the first step towards choosing meaning over money. Not only does it free us from this attachment to material things, it also frees up our time. If we need less, we can work less. Studies show that once our basic needs are met (food, shelter, safety) any additional increase in income beyond making ends meet has ZERO correlation to increased happiness, so as the old adage goes, money can't buy you love...or happiness. So spend some time thinking about how you could downsize your life and create a life for yourself that allows you to spend more time doing things that bring meaning to your life, instead of more stuff. If you're unsure of what it is that brings meaning to your life, just take a few breaths and think about the last time that you felt completely enamored with the activity you were taking part in. There are so many things that can offer us a sense of meaning in life, yoga, singing, reading, cooking, dancing, meditating, fishing, surfing, camping, running, hiking, writing, painting, spending time with loved ones etc... So what is it for you that allows you to find your flow. Where nothing can distract you from the present moment. Where you lose all sense of worry or concern and are fully aware of yourself. When you discover what that activity is for you, do more of it. Slowly, as you begin to shift how you spend your time, you just may notice that all of those material things you once thought made you happy are much less important.
Choosing meaning over money has been a powerful shift in my life the last few months. When I quit my long term corporate job to teach yoga full time I was so energized and inspired. But when day 1 of being a full time yoga teacher arrived, and I realized those perfectly proportioned paychecks weren't going to be hitting my checking account twice a month anymore, I almost instantly went in to panic mode. "Holy crap, what did I do?! I have no stable source of income, no security. I can't do anything or buy anything, I'm trapped!" So yeah, it's normal to freak out about making less money, we all crave stability and financial security, it's in our nature. I've slowly learned that my paycheck was not making me happy, in fact my paycheck was trapping me into a life that I didn't want. My freak out was simply a knee jerk reaction to change. Now that I can reflect on this progression in my own life, I realize that it's all about letting go of attachments. Attachments to material things, to social status, to people, to ego. We have to live for ourselves and nothing else. We must seek out and honor our true nature. The last few months have proved to me that finding true meaning in life and following it with everything you have is the only way to be content. It's our duty to find meaning in life, otherwise what are we doing here?
So at the end of the day, choosing meaning over money isn't about being courageous or brave it's about letting go. One day at a time. What can you let go of today?