“Happiness, as far as we’re concerned, is achieved through living a meaningful life, a life that is filled with passion and freedom, a life in which we grow as individuals and contribute beyond ourselves. Growth and contribution: those are the bedrocks of happiness. Not stuff.
“This may not sound sexy or marketable or sellable, but it’s the cold truth. Without growth, and without a deliberate effort to help others, we are simply slaves to cultural expectations, ensnared by the trappings of money and power and status and perceived success.” http://www.theminimalists.com/21days/
This is approximately where I am. This quote is by two minimalists, Joshua Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus.
Being married, I don’t have some of the freedom they do. What struck me from reading about Joshua was that he lost his mother and marriage in a short time frame and he is also an INTJ like myself. We can go about our lives for decades, living out the expectations of our family and/or society until something happens (like middle age, death, divorce, or any trauma) and then we suddenly see what isn’t important to us. Perspective is instantaneous. How could I have ever cared about ________? Old priorities fall away like a winter coat on the first 50 degree day of spring. But I understand where they are coming from.
Living a simple life is all about deliberate-ness. It’s not about being poverty-stricken, but about being selective and careful with all you do, making it all count.
For me, some of the perspective came from Barry’s cancer and Huntington’s. Making baklava to sell to the poor? Gone. Seeking the approval of religious authorities? So gone. Becoming capable of financially supporting myself? Now at the top of the priority list. Discarding items for eventually moving? Somewhat important, but not urgent. Priorities are instantly clarified.
But physical, tangible stuff comes with a cost. I will never forget a TV show I saw about a decade ago. This family really wanted to get out of debt. Both parents worked. Sounds like an obvious strategy, right? Not so much. The host went through the couple’s expenses and noticed some things. Because the wife worked, they needed daycare, a very serious expense. Her job required another vehicle (requiring purchasing, gas, taxes, plates, insurance, and maintenance), steel-toed boots, lunches, and regular clothing purchases. It was actually costing them money for her to work! She was more than happy to stay at home and get out of debt faster.
Perhaps when the children are old enough to not require childcare, the situation will change. Things change constantly and require re-evaluation. The point is simple: everything you have (including a job) has costs associated with it and vigilance is required to make good decisions on a regular basis.
“Growth and contribution: those are the bedrocks of happiness.” Amen.