Living What You Believe

Every day, I get ten or fifteen emails from people who strongly believe in some particular issue or perspective. I hear from extreme political liberals and extreme political conservatives. I hear from devout literal Christians and outspoken atheists. I hear from people who live almost entirely off the grid and from others who are incredibly consumer-oriented.

The amazing part is that I hear a variation on the same story from all of these people. In each case, I hear from that person because they (or, on occasion, someone they care deeply about) have lost touch on some level with the values that they claim to hold dear.

Often, they’re upset about something in the world. Some are upset at environmental destruction. Others are upset about government spending. Still others are upset about the moral degradation of society. This isn’t in itself a problem, of course. It’s often very valuable to have something you care deeply about.

At the same time, I’ll see in these emails that they’re taking individual actions to make the very problem they claim to detest worse. They’re spending money on consumer goods that, during their production, damage the environment. They’re not actively involved in the political process in a non-financial basis. They’re full of anger at the moral degradation they see and spread that anger around in various ways.

Even more painful, from my perspective, is when these contradictions are costing them money. The consumer goods cost money. Being angry adds to your stress and makes you ill, costing you money. Donating money to candidates that don’t actually support your beliefs costs you money.

In almost every case, you can live a better life and save money if you live in accordance with what you value.

If you care about the environment, stop buying consumer products or at least minimize those purchases. Plant a garden. Learn how to cook at home. Spend your spare time promoting environmental causes.

If you are concerned about politics, stop giving your money to candidates until they prove themselves. When you do support candidates, support them with your feet and your time and not your wallet. Knock on doors. Send letters. Get involved at a local level.

If you worry about the morality of others, don’t spend your time worrying about others and telling them how to live. Show them how to live with every second of your life. Live every moment in a way that reflects your morals. Treat others how you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes. You’ll find a lot less stress that way, which will help with illnesses and lost income, and you’ll end up having a much more positive impact than if you spread the rage around.

If you believe in something, live your life in accordance with that belief. Don’t just try to solve problems with your words or with your wallet, and don’t make choices that contradict what you stand for. You’ll find that, time and time again, you’ll be financially better off for doing it – and you’ll be better off in a lot of other areas of your life, too.

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