I once met a sailor, who seemed to have everything, yet in physical terms he owned all most nothing.
No basement full of shit he had forgotten about.
No rented storage units containing furniture he’d never use again.
No relationships with people who dragged him down or dumped their problems on him.
No jobs where he was responsible for showing up and building a career.
Just a simple sailboat.
He’d sail from Vancouver to Mexico, hang out for a bit, then head over to Hawaii. He’d work for a couple of weeks to save up enough to buy some more supplies, work on his boat and then he’d be off to the French Polynesian in the South Pacific.
He had a sense of calm about him. My favorite quote of his was, “I don’t make any plans, and I’m sticking to them.”
People often asked him about his life and seemed very envious of it. But he said when they realized he’d given up almost all material possessions, had no house, car, or vacation home, they knew it would just be a dream.
The societal pull is strong. We care so much what others think of us.
Probably my favorite all time quote:
“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”
Isn’t it interesting then that most people act in completely the opposite way?
We don’t buy the house we need, we buy the house we can afford.
We chase the pay raises, promotions, and progression that take away our liberation. Each time those freshly printed business cards with a fancy new title roll off the printing press we feel great, but the reality is we just gave away a bit more of our soul.
Read Tim’s previous article on the ManTalks blog: “10 Simple Ways to Be More Selfish [And How it Helps You Avoid Anxiety
There are ways to reverse this trend. Below I will share the five top ways to simplify.
How to Get More by Wanting and Having Less:
1: Rent, Don’t Own
Home ownership is a deeply rooted rite-of-passage in our society. Somehow it’s become the definition of ‘making it.’
While I do own real estate, I actually rent the house I live in.
This gives me way more flexibility in terms of where I want to live. People move house on average every 4-5 years anyway, so the concept of settling down is way overplayed.
It also means I don’t spend my weekends doing minor jobs around the house, living in home depot, or worrying about when I’ll have to replace the roof next.
I don’t think about putting in new kitchens, swimming pools, bathrooms, or wood floors.
I literally don’t care. Something breaks, I phone my landlord and he takes care of it. If I want to move, I could be gone in 30 days. The housing market won’t force me to stay.
A home is our biggest single investment, and it not only takes up the biggest chunk of our cash but also our time and mental space.
The result: I have more time, more money, and most importantly more mental peace.
2: Turn off the TV, Radio and Internet
According to various studies we are exposed to 5,000 + advertisements per day.
Wonder why you suddenly want something?
Why you NEED that new blender today?
Why you have to go and test drive a new car?
You deserve it right?
The advertisers have been working on you for a while, my friend. Subconsciously or consciously, it doesn’t really matter. But the fact is we are programmed to want to buy stuff.
You have the ability to control how many inbound messages you receive. Unless you become a recluse you probably can’t control them all, but you can make a dent.
Regular TV is a complete joke these days, with seemingly more ads than actual content. I simply have Netflix. It has no ads and great content. Next time you’re in the car practice NOT turning on the radio.
What’s that you hear? That’s silence. Weird right?
With more and more distractions in our world, cherish the moments when you have the ability to control the volume. Great ideas and thoughts won’t ever show up in your life it you’re constantly surrounded by the low level hum of busyness.
3 – Practice Negative Visualization
Hedonistic adaptation, also known as the hedonic treadmill, is the term used for what happens when we have extremely positive things happen in our lives, only for us to shortly thereafter settle back to our previous level of satisfaction.
An often cited example of this is past lottery winners, who rush out with their winnings to buy the Ferrari and mansion only to end up not only poorer than when they set out in the first place but also less satisfied. The same can happen with a relationship, a new house, a promotion at work.
Hedonistic adaption happens for a couple of reasons. First, say you get a new car. It’s fun to drive, faster than your old one and your friends are all impressed. After a while the car just becomes the norm for you and you get used to it.
The second potential effect is when, for instance, you get in shape, lose fat ,and build some muscle. Even if you are able to maintain this new shape you will adjust and get used to it and therefore it will become your new baseline.
You’ll be less impressed with yourself after a while.
The lesson here is to consider that whatever it is you want is unlikely to make you happy.
So, instead of working extra hard for the new swimming pool, just wait for a while and appreciate what you already have.
An alternative way to appreciate things: the Stoics recommended that we imagine losing things we value such as our job, house, and significant other.
They called it, “Negative Visualization.”
By using this technique we have the ability to truly appreciate what we have today with the understanding that it is only available to us temporarily and that nothing is guaranteed or forever.
The idea isn’t that you spend all day being negative but that you reflect a few times a day, allowing you to become more engaged in the present and grateful for what you already have.
4: Get Out of The Deferred Life Plan
The concept of getting in debt up to your eyeballs and then spending the best years of your life paying for that as you save for retirement is a terrible plan.
After reading the preceding points above this should come as a huge relief to you. If you don’t need to buy all the things you know won’t actually bring you any happiness then you can avoid the trap of having to work 60 hour weeks for 40 or more years of your life.
I just saved you about 13 years of your life chasing the wrong goal.
When I left my job, I made many of these choices over time. I sold my primary residence, drastically downsized my living budget, and rented a cheaper place so that I just didn’t have to do jobs I didn’t want to do just to make money.
You have a choice: you can follow the conventional route of wanting a lot of stuff and buying a lot of stuff and therefore having to make a lot to pay for it. Or you can consciously design your life by not letting external desires get your attention.
Next time you want something, before you run out and buy it, consider that you may not actually need it, will likely have to work harder and longer to pay for it and if you do buy it at some point you won’t care about it anymore.
Read Tim’s previous article: 10 Simple Ways to Be More Selfish [And How it Helps You Avoid Anxiety] or listen to his interview on the ManTalks Podcast.
Tim JP Collins is The Breakthrough Anxiety Coach and supports people suffering with Anxiety, stress and panic attacks. Tim’s approach isn’t just about coping, it’s about moving past Anxiety and fear to live the life you were destined for.
Tim worked in the corporate world as a Vice President of Sales for 15 years, so is well versed in the business space. He ultimately decided that wasn’t for him and was drawn towards supporting others, to live anxiety and stress free while going big in their lives.
Tim has also spent time in Entrepreneurial and Real Estate fields, starting a business with his wife in 2007, in their spare time, which went on to be brand name in the infant market and was acquired in 2015.
Tim is the creator & host of “The Anxiety Podcast” Each week Tim interviews people that have stories that you will be able to relate to. The interviews are raw, real and vulnerable and people share what’s really going on for them.
Tim believes that the more out of alignment we are in our lives, the more Anxiety & Stress will show up. So he really looks at the bigger picture when working with clients.
Connect with Tim on the Web, The Anxiety Podcast, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram
Or, if you’re feeling a little old fashion you can just email him: [email protected]
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