Monday, November 9, 2015

Experiences are the Spice of Life

Experiences or things ? The things that are our stuff ?

What do we spend most of our time, energy or money on ? Buying gadgets ? Paying the mortgage or rent ? Paying off our student loans ? Paying our car loans ? Paying off the credit card debt ? Or buying more stuff and existing paycheck to paycheck worrying about when our next penny is going to come or where it is going to come from ? or  about all the stuff we have, hoarding and cluttering ourself, worrying about how to manage the stuff and feeling overwhelmed all the time.

In the name of “abundance” are we hoarding ourself with stuff ? Why do we need to clutter our houses ? Why do we need 2-4 cars per household ? Why do we need so much stuff ? Is our happiness all in this stuff ?

For me personally I am lucky and grateful that I am not that into stuff. I was very excited to graduate and not knowingly took the first step in the stereotypical “living the american dream” 
  • Getting a Job
  • Buying a Car
  • Getting married, have children, provide for their education
  • Having a house with white picket fence

Even before I knew what American Dream was I checked the first one off the list. I got a 9-5 job and I was very excited to get the biggest pay check until then. Until then I just made nominal hourly wages working as a webmaster in college working part-time and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. For the first time I made relatively good money that I never made before and my “stereotypical” brain was already looking to check off the next one on the list by buying one of my favorite cars “Audi” Coupe or “Infiniti” Sports edition.

Luckily I came across blogs like Zenhabits and minimalists talking about simple living and minimalism. I was never a guy that was into stuff. Even though I am a fanboy I never stood in line to buy the iPhone or even understood why people stand in crazy lines for “buying stuff” during thanksgiving. I guess since I wasn’t into stuff I never could understand buying “stuff” if you don’t need it but just buying it because “you are getting a good deal”.  I also happened to read books on simple living and entrepreneurship that made a lot of difference and let me to take a different route. I also got better with my finances and life in general.

In the spirit of “Simple living” and being as minimal as possible I took up a challenge this year . The  challenge of having less than 100 items including books and clothes which I have too many of them. I wouldn’t say I made much progress but I definitely became conscious of my buying patterns and my habit of buying a physical copy of the books. I started going to the library more instead of buying physical copies of the books or the kindle version either.

So what do I do with all the time I have and the stuff I don’t need to worry about ? I enjoy my experiences

  • I run. 
  • I travel. 
  • I experience different cultures
  • Meet people and eat food from across the world to where ever I travel.
  • I build things that I am passionate about
  • I write
  • I dabble and explore
  • I constantly find out what makes me and others happy 

Is my lifestyle an accident ? I wish it was :) and I could say “I woke up like this” ;). But it is far from that. My lifestyle is a series of choices. The choice to splurge or to make sacrifices and only spend on the necessities and not luxuries. The choice to hoard my apartment with expensive gadgets  or spend that money on a race bib. The choice to buy a car or to spend that money on buying a plane ticket.

So many of my friends and people I meet have said to me “What you are doing is amazing. I wish I could do that”. My immediate reaction would be to say “yes you can do it too” but I calm myself, try to think from their perspective and tell myself “Until recently you didn’t even know you could do all this, enjoy the life experiences, so it is entirely normal if your friends don’t know it. We don't know what we don't know."

After that self-calming speech to myself, I turn into preach mode and say ““yada yada…blah blah blah yes you could do it but it could mean NOT spending on the luxuries of having a car blah blah…., spending only on necessities, yada… yada… blah… blah, being conscious of where each one of your penny is going blah blah”

Anyways, I will see how my the challenge of “simple living”  will happen turn out this year. One other reason I took up that challenge is when I was moving from DC to SF I spent almost $1000 bucks to “Move the Stuff” only to realize after that most of that stuff was useless and I threw them away. If only I knew or spent time thinking or asking myself “Do I need that stuff ?” I would not only have saved a grand but also didn’t have to go through lot of stress trying to move the stuff across the country, trying to store them and all that drama. Getting rid of stuff is liberating. It is Freedom. Freedom from stuff should become our human right and be part of the first amendment ;)

I am glad, I learnt very early in my life “experiences are all that matters and everything else is a distraction” and the more I read about happiness the more it was assuring “to experience the things I want to, when I am young”. Delayed gratification is for luxuries and stuff and not experiences.  Luckily people who have been here on this physical world much longer than me and way before me and have lot more “experience” or have asked similar questions of what I am asking now have concluded “Spend on Experiences and not stuff”

For which I say
“Simple Living is Living Free of all the unnecessary distractions and baggage while experiencing and spending time on the things you Love” ~ Sandy.

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