Three and a half years ago, I was in a desperate debt situation. My lifestyle was tied desperately to spending far more than I was bringing in – and I was finally paying the consequences.
I had let money become the most important thing in my life. It drove all of my choices and decisions. It chose my career for me. It chose my specific job for me. It chose how I spent my free time – I did expensive things to escape from the debts and the pressure-filled work, usually with a device on my hip that chained me to that job.
I was desperate and unhappy. I was in a prison made of money – and I knew I had to escape it.
Today, I realize something much more compelling. Money is not the most important thing in life. In fact, in a healthy life, money often follows behind many other elements in your life. If you put your energy and time into other things more important than money, money will follow. It will find a way to work.
Here are fifteen things I’ve found that are more important than money.
Experiences Hug someone. Kiss someone. Write someone a letter telling them how you feel. Run (or walk) a marathon. Spend all day making an exquisite meal and eat it by candlelight. Make love to someone. Face the thing you most fear right in the face. The rush you get from experiencing something amazing is one of the best parts of being human, and most of the time the financial cost is minimal.
Wisdom If you think you know the answer, you’re far from wise. Keep learning. Wisdom comes from knowing how little you actually know. Spend some time learning something new, perhaps even becoming skilled at something. You’ll surprise yourself at what you gain, often far beyond the mere knowledge you hoped to attain.
Marriage Accepting another person wholly and intimately into your life is utterly life-changing. Opening up every part of yourself to another person is constantly challenging, but constantly powerful in how it changes you and makes you strive to be a better person.
Friendships The regular companionship and camaraderie of people you care about and share interests with is continually life-affirming. Friendships don’t revolve around the things you have or the activities you can afford – they revolve around people.and shared experiences.
Physical health Health can’t be bought, but it can be helped by the personal choices we make. Exercise. Eating better. Making choices that are less sedentary. Getting involved with activities that get us moving. Practicing proper hygiene. Money pales in comparison to the value of the physical health needed to enjoy life.
Mental health On the flip side of the physical coin is mental health. Expressing our feelings in a healthy way. Finding people to talk to and relate our problems. Addressing the issues that bother us. Seeking professional help when these options don’t change things for the better. Again, money is insignificant compared to the value of mental balance.
Personal passions What activities make you feel truly excited and fulfilled? Those things are the spice of life – every one of us wins by digging into our passions. The best part? Quite often, seeking out and following your passions often means that money will follow in the wake.
Communication The ability to express our thoughts and feelings to a receptive audience is truly invaluable. it enables us to share elements of our inner world with others, something that can’t be achieved by all of the material wealth on this planet.
Self-reliance Money comes, money goes. The ability to survive and even thrive with no money means that money becomes significantly less important. The ability to do things yourself reduces the need you have for money to solve your problems.
Security If we channel our efforts into creating a sefe and secure enviroment where we’re protected from our failures, we create a situation where our fortunes are much less tied to our ability to put money in our pocket. If we put effort into security now, we have true safety later, a type of safety that can’t be broken by ordinary material needs.
Helping others For most people, the action of helping others provides a great deal of personal joy and satisfaction, something that cannot be replaced by any sort of material item. Helping others often requires no financial resources at all and can sometimes generate financial resources – free meals and such – plus goodwill in the community. Good karma has tremendous value.
Personal growth Every single person has countless opportunities to improve as a person – their behavior, their beliefs, and so forth. Working to grow as a person only improves you and rarely costs anything, but it almost always improves your income potential for the future as well as naturally improving your outlook on the world and your self-confidence.
Thankfulness When you move from desiring the things that you do not have to being thankful for the things that you do have, your perspective on the world changes drastically. Your desire for having the latest things goes down while, at the same time, your contentedness with life goes up dramatically.
Hobbies If you can discover personally fulfilling activities to fill your time, you introduce happiness into your life. Many people fall into routines by default, never asking if their choices introduce authentic happiness, then they try to chase a sense of happiness by purchasing things. Step back from this. Try new things, and dig into the things you genuinely enjoy. Often, it’s the simplest things – playing a game with our partner, going on long walks, collecting rocks or leaves – that bring us the greatest personal satisfaction.
Spirituality Does our life have a purpose? Do we have a spirit? Is there something greater than we can comprehend all around us? Digging into these questions through reading, contemplation, meditation, and prayer can bring an incredible sense of calm, peace, and even joy that can be difficult to find in other avenues – and impossible to find with money.
The more of these elements you dig into and discover in your life, the lesser the role of money, materialism, and spending occupies. In the end, you’ll find that you’re no longer chasing money, but that instead money is following you on the path to a much better life.