I grew up in a family where money was one of those things we never had enough. We had our better days as well as the worse ones. Every summer, since I had finished elementary school, I had worked so I could afford myself to buy some clothes, books, notebooks and all other school supplies I needed.
But when I think about it, I can’t say we were poor. For me, that word is too strong and can be used only for those people who walk around barefoot and live without a roof over their heads.
When I grew up, became independent, found a well-paid job, and started earning decent money, logically I began to spend more to make up for everything I couldn’t have before.
I remember when I bought my first original Nike shoes, that feeling of guilt when I gave the money to the cashier. Back then, that was a considerable amount of money for me, and I could’ve used it to dress up from head to toe at the city market.
But as time went by, and the amount on my bank account grew, my feeling of guilt gradually became smaller and smaller, and my appetites became bigger and bigger. Suddenly, one pair of Nike shoes wasn’t enough. I needed at least three pairs; one for the gym, one for everyday walking, one for specific dressing combinations, and instead of two pairs of jeans, I needed a minimum of ten, a coat and pair of boots whose cost was enough to feed a small family for a month…
Naturally, I was excited in the beginning; my self-confidence grew. I was no longer someone who before buying anything needed to think well about it – did I really needed it, and could I afford it, or someone who ignored all her wishes because I had no way to please them.
I was happy.
And then, with time, I stopped being happy.
Ironically, as I earned more, my appetites became bigger, I spent more, I had more debts on my credit cards. And as I owe more, I strived for more progress. I increased my responsibilities at work to earn more money so I can have enough for all my demands. It was never enough, and I always wanted just a little bit.
And so I became attached. A slave who saw her freedom far away from the responsibilities I had loaded myself with, so that I could stop being materially poor.
People often connect freedom and happiness with money. Because when we have it, we think we can anything we want. There is no limit, and we can accomplish everything without all the troubles that those with less money deal with.
But in fact, money has nothing to do with freedom, let alone happiness.
Yes, in the material sense, we can do a lot, if not all we want, depending on the amount of money we have. But that is also the only thing we can – own something. That sense of freedom and happiness is temporary. It lasts just as long as it takes us to understand that our soul remains hungry despite the abundance we surrounded ourselves from the outside.
We are tremendously proud of our material achievements. We feel the power, have a high level of self-confidence and self-sufficiency when we achieve something we consider essential, something the whole world believes is vital. We tend to hide behind our achievements, the money that allows us to satisfy our urge for possessions, and only serves as a barrier between the world and what we are: confused, sad, uncertain, lost in the eternal pursuit of happiness.
To earn money. To ensure material security within your four walls, equipped with the many miracles of technology created to make life easier. To provide yourself with the material freedom in which with one click of a mouse you buy whatever you want, go to distant destinations, invest in your knowledge and professional development, in the security of your family…
All that is easy – compared to achieving personal peace and happiness.
When they educate you and supply you with various titles and skills that ensure your successful climbing on the social ladder, you don’t get the guidance for what’s most important, for what every human being strives to be – how to be happy. How to live your life at the end of which you can say: I was rich because instead of money I accumulated memories, experiences, emotions that touched my soul and made my life worth of living.
At the end of the road, all of us encounter the same fate, the one that doesn’t care if we have been a slave to our material possessions during our lifetime, or we enjoyed the freedom that only untying to material things can provide.
With this article, I don’t want to say that money is not important – of course, it is. As well as achieving a particular status in society if that is what an individual truly wants. I want to make you wonder yourself; is your life the result of deliberately made decisions that aim to make you a happy person in the long term or just the result of the need to feel accepted by everyone else, the need to fit in? Obsessively collecting material things only to have what everyone else have is just that – the longing to feel accepted, something that has no connection with happiness.
Even when we have absolutely everything we have ever wanted, sadness can still cut our soul, seemingly harmless as a plain sheet of paper that easily hurts us if we awkwardly handle with it.
Over time, it became unclear to me how I could live with so little before. I remember how I believed that all my troubles will disappear if I earn just a bit more, how a little bit more is more than enough for a happy and fulfilled life. But happy and fulfilled life escaped from me even when I had way more than just a little. I believe this is familiar to you, isn’t it? What do you think, why is it like that?
I believe it’s because all our energy is focused on creating on the outside. On things that are on the surface, visible and tangible, stuff we can show to others and shout: Look what I have, what I achieved!
I read a psychological thriller recently. Although it’s not directly related to the subject of this text, a sentence at the very beginning of the book made me think about it and eventually I had an idea for this article. The sentence is:
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.
A sentence is written at the beginning of the page, and an empty page is left to write down all of your possessions that you consider essential to your life.
Would you write any and why? Or would you realise, after little thinking, that no possession has such importance in your life and that you would turn your back to any if some circumstance in your life demanded it? Especially the situation that gives the promise of inner peace and happiness.
Write your thoughts in comments, I’ll be happy to read them.
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