The idea of infinite abundance, wealth and becoming a millionaire has always been a challenging one for me. Sure I had the fairy tale dreams, but it was more the pretty birds and magic garden that I desired, over the castle and diamond jewellery.
Growing up in a country town with a large family, I didn’t really know if we had lots of money, but I never seemed to want for anything either. If I had a party to go to, out came the sewing machine and a trip to the only fabric store. Hand-me-downs were expected and my two sisters and many cousins close in age meant I always had fun clothes to borrow. Brand new things were reserved for special gifts on birthdays, Christmas, graduation, or holidays.
Money wasn’t spent unnecessarily, needs always came before wants.
A value lost on many in our current consumer culture.
But it has been at the forefront of my mind these last few months.
This year my husband and I sold everything and moved to Bali for a year. This big change has definitely had its financial challenges. But to be honest, we always have enough. Bills get paid, good food is on the table, there is an amazing roof over our heads.
Sure it would be really nice to be able to fly home more often. It would be nice to be able to get a massage every week. But none of these things are necessities, so I don’t feel like we’re going without.
And for the first time ever in my life, being away from the extreme consumer influences of big city Australia, I don’t actually feel like I need to be anything more than what I am either. With almost no belongings, the lowest income I’ve had in my life, but the wonderful luxury of lots of time on my hands to focus on my writing and my re-styled fashion business - I actually feel like I am enough.
I’m exactly where I need to be and things keep falling into place just in the knick of time. I always have enough. What could be a better measure of success than this?
Now, I don’t mean that it is ‘bad’ to desire more, but when Westernised consumer-driven ambitions become misplaced and form a ‘belief’ about self, it can cause pain, anxiety, discontent and a focus on ‘not enough’.
Whereas when you realise that right now everything you already have in your life IS ENOUGH for you to fulfill your purpose in this exact moment in time, then you can let go and experience gratitude and contentment that everything you need is provided for.
This concept challenges so many of the fundamental beliefs of wealth-driven culture. We are brought up to believe time and money are intertwined and are something we must master to experience success and being enough. But this belief reinforced everyday with our ‘not enough time’, ‘not enough money’ and ‘I’m not enough’ self-talk is something that has only become an issue with the advent of the consumer and industrial ages.
When we started trading time for money, and money for stuff, and stuff for our sense of self - the value of time, money, stuff and our sense of self changed dramatically. And we bought into the lie that those things would deliver happiness.
But we have it all wrong.
Our current economic models don’t correctly map all these factors to give a true representation of economic health. Money is all we map as if it is the one denomination controlling and influencing everything else. Could it be anymore incorrect??
I recently watched “The Economics of Happiness”, and was astounded by the negative effects of Western Corporate influences on the beautiful country of Ladakh. The documentary makers highlighted how these incredible cultures were torn apart by a sudden envy and feeling of not being good enough. This only occurred when the ideals of the western images and consumer products suddenly infiltrated their world.
These ideals, impressed on us by marketers, undermine everything that enables true happiness to exist.
And it is these ideals that make individuals who live in western countries also believe that they are not enough. And although we live in countries of massive privileges, incomprehensible wealth, endless opportunity, gross wastage and reckless spending - we still think we don’t have enough.
We still want more in the desire to grab hold of a moment of happiness.
But what if we stopped focusing on wanting more and started thinking of how little we really need to achieve ‘enough’. Many of us would have far surpassed this level ten, twenty, fifty times over.
How much time do we really need to be happy? Well, the fact is we actually don’t own time, we only have now - and now is enough. Especially when we focus on our true priorities in life.
How much money do we really need to be happy? When we put real thought into this, we just need enough to make sure we have food, water, shelter, clothing, education and health - the basic human needs.
And how much stuff do we really need to be happy? Well, we really just need enough - the basic necessities - to enable us to live our purpose. And the people who pursue principles of minimalism - experience the reality of less stuff brings more joy.
A stark contrast to the current economic model which celebrates growth and the increased consumption of STUFF at all costs.
Instead of looking at our bank balances, the size of our house, or our job title as an indicator of success, imagine if we accounted for the other things in life. Imagine if we added happiness, time, health, family, community, purpose and environment to our economic structures. Would you look at your life differently?
If you focused on living to the economics of enough, what would change for you? Would you be able to work less hours? Have a smaller mortgage? Spend more time with your kids? Save money for more frequent vacations? Worry less? Shop less? Create more? Be more?