One time, an older guy at our church showed us some apartments, and he explained to us the benefits of owning a house rather than renting. When discussing our combined income, he asked, "Do you guys make $50,000 a year?" That was his immediate guess, and my wife and I looked at each other and smirked. After telling him what we actually made, I could tell he was rather shocked -- but he did his best to hide it. He was probably thinking, "How in the world could a family of four survive on that???"
Another time, a friend of ours was doing our taxes. After seeing the numbers, she told my wife, "I'd be absolutely terrified of doing what you guys do!"
We don't even get any government assistance. We never sought it and we don't care to seek it. We just know how to live a "succulent life."
What do I mean? Think about so-called "desert plants" such as aloes and cacti. These plants are known as "succulents" because they hold a significant amount of water in their leaves and stems. Not only could they survive with very, VERY little water, they could also THRIVE without much water. They could grow big, produce more leaves, and even produce blooms with a very minute amount of water. Also, they could survive in the poorest kind of soil. The soil you wouldn't plant your precious petunias, geraniums, or lilies in, you could plant succulents in.
These plants were designed to hold their on with very little care. I have an aloe plant in my home and I think the longest I've went without watering it was AT LEAST one month. And it showed no signs of distress. It was actually producing more leaves!
I love succulents because not only are they beautiful and low maintenance, but also because they remind me that I don't need a lot in life to survive. Succulents remind me that it's not about how much I want, but how much I need. Succulents also remind me that in this life, there is very, very little that we humans need to live.
My family has one car that is only five years old. We live in a prime location. We have a pantry full of food, a thriving garden, two healthy children, and nobody is starving. We have high-speed internet and cable. How in the world could we get all of this stuff with the income that we have? Well, we know how to live the succulent lifestyle: to do a whole lot with very little.
While on our way to Wednesday Night Bible study, we were listening on the radio about someone who made x amount of money on his main job, but yet he "had" to work two other jobs to make ends meet. My wife and I, after hearing of his income, just shook our heads. We thought, "If we made the money that he made, we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves!" We'd feel rich! But you see, when you live a succulent lifestyle, you can't make $30,000 a year and live as if you were making $50,000 a year. You can't make $50,000 a year and live as if you were making $100,000 a year.
Yes, I know, you got that new job promotion. You're making a few thousand dollars more per year! Okay, go ahead and celebrate by taking all your friends out to dinner. But afterwards, live as if you didn't get that promotion. Our temptation is to increase our standards of living when the money starts rolling in -- and later, we'd find ourselves struggling yet again.
I don't know about you, but the succulent lifestyle is rather freeing. I was quite relieved to see how little we actually needed. When the needs are low, it frees your mind. The more you need, the more grief you bring into your life. The more grief you have, the less you're able to enjoy your life.
In my life, I focus on NEEDS rather than WANTS. We generally confuse the two, don't we? How many of you have gone to a restaurant and told the waiter, "Yeah, I need..." First of all, the restaurant in itself isn't even a need! So, don't go in the restaurant talking about what you need. What you do need is to eat food -- what you DON'T need is to eat at a restaurant. You WANT to eat at a restaurant.
Or, how many of you have cable issues and called the company saying, "Yeah, I need to know..." Cable isn't a need. While it's nice to have (we have it ourselves), we don't NEED it. So, don't call your cable company talking about what you need. You WANT cable, you don't NEED it.
If we would look at what we actually need and learn how to live without many of our wants, we could start living the succulent lifestyle. We could not just survive, but we could THRIVE with very little -- only if you're willing to learn how. You don't need to live like a pauper. You just need to know what you actually need and how to maximize on the little resources that you have.
As a fitness trainer, I could give you a total body work-out, working everything from your shoulders to your ankles, without using ANY exercise equipment. Zero! I could just show up on your doorstep with nothing else but my clothes on, and I could take you to the middle of nowhere with nothing to workout with, and I could still build up your body. Using equipment is simply a bonus for me.
So, could you also live a succulent lifestyle? Could you learn to thrive with little? Could you maximize your small resources? Just think about this: knowing how to survive with little is a basic survival skill. If you don't have that skill, then when the money runs low, you'll go into panic mode and make many desperate decisions.
Go out and get yourself a succulent plant. Let it serve as a reminder to work with what you got and to make it count!