Back in ancient times, during the times of Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians, not many people cared about gaining the entire world. Nobody lost sleep trying to get rich. True wealth was being able to provide all your basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Individuals back then built their own houses, grew their own food, made their own clothes, and taught their own children without public school education. Life to the average person back then was, you could say, pretty comfortable. People didn't work 100 hours a week in exchange for money. Most individuals provided for themselves.
In our current society, we're focused on riches: getting everything we want and more. We seek high-paying jobs so that we could buy a big house (that comes with a big mortgage payment), nice cars (that also come with a monthly payment), nice clothes, live in a good school district, eat out several times a week, save up for retirement, and then travel the world. Our standards of living are high! Whereas gaining wealth was once a simple matter of providing everything that you needed, gaining wealth today is a matter of gaining the whole world -- and even the universe!
You see, we're taught that if you really want to live the "good life," then you need to get as much money as possible. You need to get a nice job or start a business that could make you rich. But what we're not taught is that we could live the good life NOW if we would just simply live below our means.
What would happen if we dared to:
- Drive a used car that you've fully paid for
- Live in a small home...or even live in an apartment
- Exercise at home instead of paying for gym membership
- Homeschool our kids
- Grow our own food
- Eat at home instead of at a restaurant
- Be satisfy with regular TV instead of getting cable or satellite
- Got married in a courthouse instead of at a $10,000 wedding ceremony
- Ate when we're hungry instead of when we're bored
- Wear store-branded clothes instead of the pricey name-branded clothes
- Get prepaid cell phones instead of getting a contracted phone plan
You see, you don't need a lot of money to get what you want. You just need to live below your means and to be resourceful.
In today's society, we're taught that we need to make as much money in the world to gain financial independence, travel the world, get the biggest house, and have a load of money saved for retirement. But now think about it. What do you truly need in order to survive? What do you really need in order to be financially independent? Do you need to make a billion dollars a year? A million? Heck, do you need to make six figures a year? That kind of money is luxury money: you don't need it, but it's nice to have. In fact, many things that we THINK we need aren't really needs: they are just nice to have.
We make fun of or talk poorly about homeless people. We think many of them are homeless because they want to be. Well, it's true! You have individuals who choose to be homeless. You think, "What kind of sick person would want to be homeless???" But think about the benefits: no rent/mortgage, no light bills, no job to worry about, and live anywhere you want. Go to a shelter if it's rainy or snowy outside and then go back out in the woods to live. It's just you and nature to think about, and if you're among fruits, veggies, and wild animals, you would have plenty of food to eat.
For the rest of us, we have to worry about bills, rent, car payments, grocery shopping, looking for a job, paying taxes, etc., etc. And really, all of these burdens aren't even necessary to have in life. If you have access to food, water, and shelter (be it a cave, a homeless shelter, whatever), then you're good to go. The rest of us are burdened with a ton of bills for the nice-to-have stuff.
Isn't it funny how God made you to not need a refrigerator, or central AC, or plumbing? However, because of our desire to have more and more and more, we've created necessities that really aren't necessities. You don't need a brand new car. You don't need air conditioning when you have windows. Want central AC? Open all the windows and your doors! Want central heating? Close your windows and doors!
Not only have we created unnecessary burdens, we've also disabled ourselves from providing what we truly need. Think about it: how many of you have a swimming pool or play set in your backyard instead of a garden? How many of you have a beautiful lawn in front instead of a garden? How many of you know how to grow food? If all the farmers in this country went on strike, we as a nation would be in trouble because so few of us know how to farm!
God made your bodies to be physically active, yet with all the convenience of the nice-to-have stuff, we've grown lazy and fat. Sorry to say, but why do we really need escalators or elevators when the building is only 2-stories high? Why do we need those funky moving floors that you see in the airport? It's like an escalator, but instead of taking you to another story, it just takes you from across the room. Why the heck can't you just walk 50 feet with your luggage?
When you think about the stuff that you have that you really don't need, it makes getting rich seem so, well, greedy!
We already know that you could live out in the woods with no problems. So getting an apartment, even a ratty one, would be a luxurious convenience. Moving into an apartment in a nice neighborhood would be like a luxurious resort. Getting a mansion is like owning Disney World! What do you need with all that luxury besides having convenience?
Now, am I telling you to live with the wolves or that you should give all your wealth away? No, I'm not. I'm giving you a different perspective on wealth so that you could perhaps not lose your soul over riches. Most of the things you have are for convenience sake, even if you're considered "poor." Unless you live with the birds among the trees, then you're living in luxury: running water, heat, AC, refrigerator to keep food from spoiling too fast, an oven to bake, a stove to fry, pots and pans to cook your food in, and you have no need to grow your food, hunt for animals, or go fishing. Even individuals who live in the projects of the ghetto would have the basic items that I've listed. You may not think you're living in luxury, but live out in the woods to fend for yourself and you'll see how many conveniences you have!
You are most likely living the good life already...either that, or you have the potential to do so if you would simply live below your means.
Stop stressing over the best-paying jobs, or the best residential neighborhoods, or the best colleges to go to. Focus on living below your means. Live simply. The person who is the happiest is the person who has the least cares in this world. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you could hold on to, and the less stuff you'd have to worry about.
BUT if you get rich, then that would be a bonus! Don't let riches be an excuse to increase your standard of living. If you were to lose your riches, you don't want to lose your peace of mind, too. When you're not attached to riches, you could truly live freely. When you're attached to material things, then you'll have all the stress that comes with them.