Most people probably don’t know this, but when my husband and I left to travel the world we pretty much gave up everything. We sold what we could, but most of our “stuff” was donated. That experience of staring at everything we had accumulated over our lifetime was actually quite sobering. This, literally this heap of stuff, is what we have been busting our butts over. This is why I have been working long hours. This is why I have been depriving myself of sleep. This is what I have been sacrificing time with loved ones. This heap of crap is the sum of my hard work…
What was really interesting was it was one of the most freeing experiences of my life. No more dusting. No more worry about breaking, or losing things. At first it felt odd carrying all of our earthly possessions on our backs, but then it became normal. And for the last four years, we have lived extremely humbly by most standards. We certainly have accumulated a few things, but nothing that we wouldn’t leave behind in a heartbeat.
Here is What I Have Learned After 4 Years of Living with Less:
- I have learned to love people more than things. I have come to the realization that time is the most important gift that we can give eachother. Whether it is a phone call, or a conversation over a cup of coffee, these are the moments I treasure.
- I have learned that being busy is different than being productive. We have reduced our overhead, to give ourselves more time, which means we can work less and experience more life.
- I have learned to not succumb to the pressure of giving really expensive gifts unless it really means something. I feel like my gift giving was really ego driven and I wanted to give more and more (based on price). Now, I give with love and sentiment and I don’t think about the price tag. I make things sometimes that don’t cost much but express my gratitude.
- I have learned to appreciate what I do have. Though we don’t have a lot in the material world, many of our friends have even less. I have really come to appreciate the simple things. For example, I had an 8 year old girl ask me the other day why I had so much stuff. I laughed and asked her, “like what?” Her response was enlightening, “you have 7 pencils and I have 1.” That sure gave me something to think about. From her wisdom I came to realize that perhaps I do have too many…
- I have learned to put my money into experiences and learning over material goods (most of the time).
- I have learned to calculate purchases in terms of time instead of monetary value. If we make a purchase, we think things like “that equal about 50 hours of work.” And then we decided whether, or not it is worth it.
- I have learned what really does make me happy. I used to believe that name brand clothing items and a nice car made me happy and now I understand that simply isn’t my truth anymore. I think when you have less, you realize what you really want versus need.
- I have learned to be more generous because I am not attached to my possessions. I have always been that person who gives away an article of clothing, or piece of jewelry if someone compliments me, but now I do it even more. If that something brings someone else joy, why not?! At the end of the day, it’s just stuff.
- Most of all, I realize that happiness is my biggest priority in life. This also means that I need to dedicate time everyday to doing things that make me feel good. Everyday that looks different, but I have learned that being happy doesn’t cost a damn thing!