I always knew some serious life lessons were on the horizon when I decided to sell everything I own, pack a small bag and move to a tropical Island that is 2.9 square kilometres small and sits 70 kilometres from a coastline.
I am currently writing from a tiny studio apartment somewhere off the coast of Nicaragua. In my little space I have a bed, a fridge, a toilet, a camping stove, a dressing table and some pots and pans. What I do not have is air-con, electricity between 6am-1pm, an oven, hot water, a TV, internet, a wardrobe, kitchen appliances, drinkable water, a washing machine or a couch. I share this space with my husband, a few cats, ants, geckos, spiders, occasionally some roosters and my two girlfriends (who actually live above me).
Between my husband and I we earn about $200 a week.
I lie in bed at night and think about my life before we hit the road. We worked anywhere between 50-60 hours a week. We owned a lot of stuff, I had the best of everything. Surfboards, cars, fancy furniture, a myriad of clothes, blenders, juicers, food processors, high-speed internet and we earned great money.
Back then I seemed to have it all; yet I still felt the pressure to have more.
To be more.
To make more.
How was this possible? How did I have everything but still felt like I was lacking?
We are sold an idea of happiness.
If we look a certain way, we will be happy. If we own more ‘things’, we will be happy. If we earn better money, we will be happy.
Well, I have a question; why is it that I have never, ever owned or earned so little, yet I have never, ever been so happy?
It feels like we are constantly bombarded with the idea that our lives are not enough. That we are not enough. Every single day we are reminded that there is more to be bought, more to be earned, more to accumulate. The media, advertisement companies, TV shows and magazines depict an idea that happiness is something external, as if it can be purchased, earned or gifted.
This way of life can be extremely stressful, like running on a treadmill that never turns off. Because if we base our happiness on the premise of ownership, status or money we can never officially reach that objective. There is no definitive point of completion. We could always own more, or earn more or be in better shape. We could literally run on that treadmill for the rest of our lives.
We could get off the treadmill and walk away…
The minute I sold my possessions and moved to this little Island I quickly learned exactly what I need and it made me reassess what I actually want.
I realised that I don’t need new clothes every week, I don’t need a higher salary and I don’t need the latest iPhone. I actually need very, very little to be deeply happy.
Food, water, shelter, love and yoga are my essentials. No more, no less.
When you take happiness into your internal world and become independent of your social environment, everything becomes a lot simpler. Happiness is finally within reach. In this day and age where suicide, depression, anxiety and eating disorders are out of control it is up us to break the cycle.
We need to develop the ability to find happiness and purpose regardless of our external world.
Living minimal has helped me achieve this, it is an extremely liberating way to live. I realised the things I owned not only cluttered my house but also my mind. My possessions were distracting me from real joy, real contentment and real satisfaction. Earning less and working less has freed up time for me to do things I actually enjoy. Choosing to minimise my consumption has shifted the power of contentment into my own hands. I have realised the true value of good relationships, laughter, love and work satisfaction over objects, money and status.
This shift in perspective has bloomed a happiness in me like never before. No more do I yearn, or want, or wish. Of course I have goals and dreams, but they are no longer linked to ‘things’.
Finally this moment is enough. My wage is enough. My possessions are enough. I am enough.
You don’t have to sell everything you own and run away to a little Island to develop an internal happiness. Just begin to notice what your happiness is attached to. Begin to reflect on what makes you feel content. Maybe even begin to live a more simply and notice your change in perspective.
Each and everyone of us deserves a deep happiness and peace that is unresponsive to the material world.
Could you live with less to feel so much more?