The image is of course a bit exaggerated, but the question remains: How much and what do I need to live the life I want?
To answer the question, I need to know what life I want to live. So, what constitutes a nice life for me?
I need a place to live. This can be a house or a flat. It doesn’t need to be big. Of course, it depends on whether I live alone or with a partner. It would be nice to have a study as an additional room, but again, it doesn’t need to be big. Moreover, it should be big enough to host my/our friends and families. I also want to live in a big city, which makes everything a bit more expensive, but this also depends on which country I live in. Those last two points are already a good start to reflect about the immaterial things, I would like to have in my life.
At the moment, I can see myself living in many different countries all over the world and yes, of course I have favorite countries =) However, it is more important how I feel. Taking for example Saint Petersburg in Russia. I really much like the city and I could see myself living there. The city has something special and I like the pace of it, as well as how I feel walking through it. But I think this has also something to do with whom you spent your time there. But even without my ex-girlfriend, I still like the city a lot.
Still, this brings me to the second immaterial thing I’d like to have in my life. Friends and a partner. People are more important to me than places. If I feel comfortable around people it doesn’t matter where I am; maybe with a few restrictions such as overly oppressive countries, or countries that are at war. It is always important to feel safe. I don’t want to go through all steps of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but you can find it here.
So, let us return to the material world and needs I have. For example, I want to be able to travel the world. It doesn’t need to be for long and very often, though. A friend of mine recently said that he will decrease the number and lengths of his trips as they can be physically and emotionally exhausting. He also said that he needs more time to be able to reflect about the experience. I understand that. Although I want to travel and see a lot, I still know about the importance of having a home in one place. It gives a lot of stability and peace.
What else do I really need? At the moment, I don’t need a car, that will definitely change, once I have kids, though. I don’t need the newest TV or smartphone or other devices. I don’t need to buy new clothes on a regular basis. What I do need is tea and books. And a laptop and access to the internet. I won’t list all things I need in my daily life, but in essence, I don’t need much to be happy. However, I do have more than I need. I know this is also linked with my happiness level. When I am happy, I don’t need to buy anything and I don’t want to buy anything (except for tea, books or to buy something for someone else). But, when I don’t feel happy, I tend to think more about what I could need, as if I want to fill a void within myself. But I cannot buy happiness. For me it is a good indicator to realize when it is time to work on myself again.
In comparison with my colleagues, I don’t own much. When I compare myself with friends of mine, I own quite a bit. I try to limit myself and to give away or throw away things that I don’t use or cannot be used anymore. I also know of people who own only 100 items or they throw or give away everything they didn’t use for 100 days and so on. I am not quite there yet, but it is a good reminder to think about what I really need to live. And I know it is healthier to live simplistic. It reduces stress and anxiety for example. If you don’t own a car, you don’t need to worry that it gets stolen or you have to pay for an expensive repair. You limit your choices, which sounds negative, but choices can paralyze us. I will speak about this in a future entry. And, it is a nice way to declutter your possessions and your mind.
There are countless studies raising the question if money can make us happy or happier. The answer is: it depends. If you buy something for yourself, especially material things, it will make you happier, but only for a short-limited amount of time. The natural process of our brains is to get accustomed to new things. That is a very good thing, as it helps us to not get overwhelmed by new impressions and therefore stress. But, it is also the reason why we get used to new things very soon. If you instead invest your money in experiences, especially shared ones, you can increase your happiness level for a much longer time. On a different note, in his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor speaks about pushing our happiness further and further away, whenever we reach a goal. It is a very good and easy read and discovers more of what makes us happy.
It boils down to this question: Do I have enough money to live the life I want? The answer is a definite yes! But there are also other questions. For example: Do I have enough time to do the things I want? The answer is: no. So, would working less provide me with enough money to live the life I want? Again, the answer is yes. Then, why don’t I do it already you might ask. It is a fair question and it is one I am working on to answer it. I will definitely keep you updated on any changes in regarding answering that question.
Today definitely gave me some more energy to working on redesigning my life. I think it helps that I remind myself on a regular basis that I have more than enough to live the life I want. I have to remind myself, because it is easy for me to forget this with all the dreams I have and the plans I come up with and of course with the environment I am surrounded by at work.
In the end, each of us need to answer this question for him- or herself: What and how much do I really need to live the life I want?
Have a wonderful day and take care =)