[This post is the eleventh in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]
There I was, sitting in front of a pleasant lake on a sunny winter afternoon with my bare necessities – a book for company, a camera for capturing the calmness that hung in air and a scribble pad to commit any inspiration to the permanence of ink. What more do you need?
I hate carrying more than I need. I hate packing bulky bags (thanks to living in US where you have to lift your baggage) and over the time I have started wanting less and less stuff around me. I think your salary starts determining how much you need. The same person who was happy with a second hand bike in college wants to upgrade from a Honda to a BMW when he starts earning and getting promoted. Many of my MBA classmates wanted to get into Banking where there was practically no life left – you earned handsomely but had no time. They believe that they will work the hell out till 40 and then they can retire (yeah Hritik Roshan type in ZNMD). But does it work like that? Do we not keep enlarging our houses and filling it with needless crap and ALWAYS end up wanting more? Will it ever be enough for us? I think if you can’t feel a sense of plenitude with a six figure income, how can you guarantee that you would feel it in seven figures?
I remember the careless days of college when we dreamed of being rich. We thought rich means having a certain figure in your bank balance. But we were wrong. Rich means simply a state where you are not worrying about money. And that brings an ingenius point – being rich does not have anything to do with having millions in hand. It is about developing a sense of affluence. This is an important discovery because I don’t have to sacrifice my youth and crucial time chasing a number. Because frankly, it is never about a number, it is about fulfilling your desires and needs and there will always be something that you will desire that is hard to buy. So, why not change the equation? Why not start listing things that can bring us that sense of affluence? Now, we only need that much money that will help us developing this satiety. It is easier than it seems. It is actually possible to live without worrying about money while earning much less than you think you needed.
Begin to make a quick list of the top 10 things you own in terms of how much they cost. With horror, make a second list of the top 10 things that make you happy. Sense the creeping dread as you realize there is no overlap between the two at all. Shudder in terror.Julien Smith
These days I earn far fewer greenbacks, but my decisions are better. Last year, as a 31-year-old indie author, I brought home less money than my 19-year-old commission-check-earning self — way less actually. But I also paid off debt, traveled the country, felt more secure. Most importantly, I didn’t worry about money. Essays on Minimalism
I used to earn a lot more a couple of years ago. But I was constantly busy running in my life, working for others, running a household, stressing about unnecessary things. I just dreamed of writing a book someday but never got any time to do it. I traveled but it was more touristy travels – taking a red eye, checking in a hotel, packed itinerary, clicking shots of lovely places without absorbing the real zen, seeing places you had heard about. I earn considerably less now but own my work, have a sense of giving, smaller achievements make me happier, I finally wrote a book, read a lot more, spend time with people I care about and haven’t found myself wanting more and more money.
I am not saying I have renounced the world. I don’t mind spending on things I care about. I still own couple of expensive gadgets (Macbook Air, SLR with decent lenses, a car) but I buy what I really feel passionate about and things that give me happiness. I will upgrade my camera when I can but thats pretty much it and perhaps a good coffee machine. I am not looking to hoard beautiful exotic furniture or show pieces. I prefer functional things and my sense of decoration also comes from what I connect with. Over the time, I have realized that this connection has nothing to do with how expensive something is. I own a Holstee life poster (and I carried it with me from US) that is more dear to me than a luxurious piece of art. It now adorns the wall of my new office. I have been looking at creative ways to decorate my office (pics soon). I want to feel happy where I live and where I work. An inexpensive easel with a piece of canvas would make me happier than looking at a rare Persian carpet would.
Owning less stuff also means spending less time on frivolous stuff. How many hours have you spent surfing the TV and Internet aimlessly? When there was neither of these, what did people do? Perhaps they got much more done.
So, coming back to my lake and bare necessities, it was a day I truly felt happy looking at nothing and everything. I was worriless. I was liberated.