It is an interesting thing that of which we place so much value in our lives on money. Yes we work to meet our basic needs, from shelter and clothing to health and food. The thing is after meeting those basic needs there is a point that at which happiness is not achieved with more money. Happiness came for me from understanding mindfulness and your money or your life.
Carefully decide if the time you are spending working and the money you are accumulating is worth the hours, days, weeks and years you are investing. Is the trade of your finite time for more money the right path and did you carefully weigh ?
“Money is something you trade your life energy for. You sell your time for money. It doesn’t matter that Ned over there sells his time for a hundred dollars and you sell yours for twenty dollars an hour. Ned’s money is irrelevant to you. The only real asset you have is your time. The hours of your life.”
― Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life
For me I discovered this incredible book back in 2013 I believe it was. Along this path of shaking the foundation of what I believed in to my core I discovered 2 other books that helped strengthen this new way of thinking.
The first book was How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalia Lama. This book emphasized that we need to be mindful of our actions and that the purpose of our lives is to be happy.
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.
The second book was Meditations by Marcus Aurelius which really delved into self reflection on what we value most while controlling how we react to the world around us. With the mindful teachings of Buddhism as it relates to living simply and learning more about Stoicism my foundation was on the path to being rebuilt.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
So how does all this relate to me and how does this relate to my blog here at Mindful Explorer ? Well it comes all together that through these philosophies I learned how to value my time and that I was trading precious moments of my life to work instead of what I brought me most fulfilment. I became mindful of my emotions, reactions and my perceptions that what we do or what we own defines us.
Stoicism speaks to this realization as explained by Harley Monk in his article; 5 Stoic Principles for Modern Living .
#1. Don’t fall prey to modern society’s materialistic nature. “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
#2. Picture life without the people and possessions you have to truly appreciate them. “Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
For some people when they discover new truths such as these they may work gradually towards them. In my case they were so powerful and the future so clear that I immediately began to work to put these changes in place. I blogged about this a few times , The Importance of Embracing Life Over Money
As a family we sold pretty much every excess in our lives which included things like dirt bikes, a motorhome, cargo trailer and household excesses. We sold our brand new vehicles and instead bought well used older vehicles. Debt was completely eliminated through simple living and embracing some frugality and minimalism (visit Becoming Minimalist as a great start). We looked at all aspects of our daily lives and even moved across the country to start fresh.
With the new foundation in place we put every single dollar outside of meeting our basic needs into our savings and retirement fund. I wanted that time, energy and moments of my life I was trading towards working and earning an income to mean something. That exchange needed to hold as high of value as possible. The personal finance tools that I used to achieve this I explained in my post; Mindful Pursuit to Happiness through Personal Finance
Its surprising that my very first post on the blog was on this 6 years ago now with a simple little blog entry titled, Make The Leap. With that move we put everything I mentioned above into action. As a family we discovered that more really did mean less.
We focused on really paying attention to what we spent our money on. It was ok for me to spend money but I stopped making any impulsive purchases. I would weigh out the decision by asking myself how many hours did it take me to earn the money I am willing to hand over for this item. By doing this over and over again the realization was made that I was very happy with what I already had.
This is where the blog and where I am now with my passion for the outdoors arrives. Over the course of the last 6 years of writing here my passion for hiking, backpacking and mountaineering become the focal point of my spare time. I purchased the equipment I needed to spend time in the outdoors but stopped spending on everything else. Consumerism and other material items didn’t bring me happiness like being in the outdoors did. It didn’t meet the criteria of your money or your life.
It was interesting that along this journey that things I valued before never appeared in my thoughts. Having the newest flat screen tv, a shiny new car, going on cool trips, eating big meals out with no worry how much it cost or how many features does my house have.
Instead everything came down to me asking does this choice help me spend time in the outdoors, spend time with family and friends and stop working sooner. Through hard work over the years, earning a good income and then aggressively saving every penny while at the same time drastically reducing our cost of living I left traditional work over 2 years ago.
** For those curious on what steps I took, this article from Mr Money Mustache is key for a deep dive on Your Money or Your Life and the personal finance steps needed to be implemented.
By stepping out of the circular trap of our money focused society I was able to see clearly and put my life energy to work in the best way possible. It is funny how when you start living simply that all the pieces begin to fall in place and the once hard decisions with money begin to be automatic.
I learned from other people around the country that had reached the same realization as I did and how they were accomplishing that. I wrote about 3 of these bloggers in my post, Simple Life With Less : A Mindful Happy Healthy Lifestyle. While I focused my new found time on the outdoors and nurtured my passion for writing and photography these bloggers took different paths. They key thing it illustrates is that while each of our lives may look different and we may earn different incomes, we can walk the same path by understanding mindfulness and your or your life.
I value my free time greatly now and don’t want to trade the opportunities to spend extended periods of time hiking and in the mountains for more money. I continue to live simply and we go without many things but as mentioned but it is up to us to judge of those are important.
I remember the mindful and stoic teachings I shared earlier in this blog post and ask myself why I want something if the urge arises. Do I want it because it will add value to my life, am I doing it so I can tell others or is it some sort of virtue signalling? Only when you are honest with yourself will mindfulness and your money or your life truly become part of your every day life.
Know that you can be enough without the excess. Happiness for me now comes in doing less and having less I have found. So I will continue to spend as much time as possible in the forests and mountains sharing my trips, writing how to articles and capturing photographs. I will make a little money along the way but that money is no longer the focus. I have found happiness by bringing purpose to my work and have chose to spend my most healthy and active years in the pursuit of life not money.
Mindfulness and Your Money or Your Life ~ Chris
Join the discussion 8 Comments
Love love love this Chris! So many quotes I hadn’t read before. As a family of 3 who has reached financial independence in our early 30s, we are 200% in alignment with EVERYTHING stated above. It truly is all about the mindset. Once you can break free from the consumerism society we live in and steer clear from the marketing and advertisements that constantly bombard you, you’ll awaken to a whole new meaning of life. A simile life is a happy life indeed. Align your actions with your values, now with what others feel you should value. I’m so glad to see this post and hopefully you enlighten others to the path of mindfulness and FIRE.
You might not know but I worked often out of an office downtown Calgary and saw what the affects of the consumptive mindset on society. It helped ensure I changed my path and worked hard to share with others. To see you accomplish your goals in self fulfillment and the similar realization is encouraging and positive. Together we can help others open their minds and hearts to a new way of living. We can still work, we can still spend money but the foundation changes on how we approach it all.
We align so closely with your philosophy Chris. We used to be heavily influenced by the glitz and superficiality of LA. We thought we had to work as hard as we could to support a lifestyle of consumption that was on par with the culture here. And then around six years ago we got serious about hiking, trail running, and doing epic outdoor adventures around the world. That’s when we realized that material goods were essentially useless to us. We’ve never felt such joy, freedom and utter bliss as when we are out on a mountain, engulfed by mother nature’s grandeur. Once we realized this, our work motivation shifted from being able to consume to being able to live freely and enjoy the beautiful no-cost blessings this earth provides us. We work now so that we can have the option to retire when we want and adventure in the great outdoors whenever we please. Now, we take a similar approach when making a purchase, and always ask ourselves is it absolutely worth the extra days, months or years of work required in order to purchase it. This tactic has changed the way we view everything, and has left us feeling liberated and positively happy 🙂
Elise isn’t it amazing how your life changes when we find a way to shift our lives to spend more time outdoors. There is something about the connection to nature, an extension of ourselves returning to the knowledge that we managed for centuries with much less. When you discover the simplicity the world becomes a much larger and more beautiful place.
Thank you for sharing this and certainly inspiring goals for all families (including mine) to set!
As I gain insight and inspiration from your blog it makes me happy to know that I can reciprocate the same back to you. Cheers my friend
Great post Chris, I’m still catching up. That Marcus Aurelius quote says it all, and it hasn’t changed in 2000 years!
Love this. So many great quotes to ponder. Sometimes we focus so much on the dollars and numbers we forget about the mindset. Sometimes just small subtle shifts in mindset have exponential impacts.