Status quo is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “the existing state of affairs, especially regarding social or political issues.”
Someone who is content with the status quo typically prefers things the way they currently are and is opposed to change. But life was never supposed to be just status quo, how boring would that be? So then, how then does one go about “opting-out” of the status quo in their life? It’s surprisingly more straightforward than you may think and can also be quite a liberating experience. Beware though, once you begin your journey down that road of opting-out of things it can become quite addictive, and soon you’ll be opting out of all the stuff you don’t care about in life to free yourself of stress and the burdens placed on us by traditional culture.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there were a convenient Staples “That was easy” button that when pressed would unsubscribe us from all the BS in our lives and it would immediately jump-start a meaningful change in our lives? If it were only that easy. If you’re like many people, perhaps you’ve experienced a rut or two throughout your life that was difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to get yourself out of. It’s hard for us to get out of ruts because they usually involve psychological obstacles that we haven’t quite figured out how to overcome yet. We’ve grown complacent in the daily rhythm of our routine lives, and gradually we’ve submitted ourselves to this monotonous, repetitive, day-in, and day-out grind that has become our daily existence.
When you were a kid, you didn’t have this psychological boredom to contend with as you do now because everything was brand new to you. Then it was on to something else. As you grew older though, perhaps life started to take on more of a melancholy flavor as it became more and more repetitive. Maybe you find yourself asking, “What else is there? Is this it?” To break free of the self-imposed and societal chains that have been placed on you, you must first examine your relationship with all the things in your life that possess your time. I am reminded of the Chuck Palahniuk quote from the film “Fight Club” that says, “The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” This is not about becoming a minimalist though, it’s about opting out of the toxicity in your life.
It's so easy to become disenfranchised nowadays with your life because we are constantly bombarded with media news stories, celebrity gossip, and images of other peoples’ lives that appear to be so much better than ours popping up on all of the various iPhones, Android phones, Macbooks, Chromebooks, Surface Pro tablets, iPads, smart watches, desktop computers, smart TVs, and Internet of Thing (IoT) devices. TV shows such as The Real Housewives of [pick your city], the Kardashians, or back in the 90’s it used to be the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and MTV Cribs that made excessive living popular and glamorous. Hopefully, everyone has figured out by now that the celebrities portrayed on these TV shows are not representative of real life, however, and a good many of them have lost most of their possessions after living a life of excess. Athletes, celebrities, musicians, and the like are not the best role models for anyone to emulate. If you do this, you’ll be labeled an “outsider,” and feeble-minded people may choose to distance themselves from you, but by far the best course of action in life is always to blaze your own trail and just be yourself.
A Renewed Perspective on Life
Your perspective on life is crucial for many reasons. Think of it as your mental mindset, how you view the world from your own unique telescopic lens. Whether you realize it or not, we are primarily shaped by our environment. Some of these factors are controllable, many of them are not. When we’re young, our parents and our experiences shape us into the adults we have become. Some experiences were positive (hopefully most), but some were not. You need Kevlar armor for the mind to protect the sanctity of your thoughts. Negative influences are abundant, they are like random drive-by shootings and will rub off on you and stick to you. These negative influences can and will affect you negatively if you allow them to, just as the opposite is true of positive influences. Your physical senses are a gateway to your mind. It is essential to try to maintain a neutral lens perspective on life so that you don’t close yourself off to potential positive influences that may come into your life. Your individual perspective is like a map overlay that is applied on top of everything you see and do in life. So if you’ve got a negative perspective then don’t be surprised if you get a lot of negativity thrown back at you in a karmic boomerang type of effect. On the other hand, maintaining a positive perspective will enable you to see the silver lining in the clouds, and you’ll learn to appreciate the small things in life that make you happy. This is wisdom that most don’t realize until later in life.
Some people live their lives always striving to get ahead and to keep up with the ‘Joneses.’ Do your best not to be one of those people. Save yourself the misery that many of these people are going through and just be yourself. When will enough be enough? You’ll be so much happier in your life rather than trying to be something or someone you’re not. Chances are you’re not going to feel better about yourself even after buying the next whiz-bang product you’ve been saving up for. More people struggle with this than you know. Life would be so much simpler if we could just be content with what we have.
It’s time for a fresh perspective on life. It seems as though the entire global population is fixated on one thing: money. If you have “enough” of then all is well, and your life is fantastic, but if you don’t have enough of it then life must, therefore, be bad, correct? Not necessarily. This may come as a shocking surprise to you, but you don’t need to own a mansion in Beverly Hills, a yacht, drive a Bentley, or have tens of millions in your bank account to live a happy life. Putting your hopes and dreams into winning the lottery is a waste of time and money, skip it, and save yourself the anxiety. Instead, you need to be your own catalyst for change. It may surprise you to learn that many rich people struggle with insecurity and have shallow personalities. I don’t consider myself a particularly religious person, but I do think there is a lot of wisdom to be found in Biblical teachings. One verse I particularly like is Mark 10:25 which says that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Now whatever your religious proclivity, it is difficult to misinterpret the meaning the way it was written. Don’t fall into the classic American Dream trap of thinking more is better, this has been proven to be false on so many levels.
Surfing is an exciting sport. On the one hand is there is a certain serenity to it, the beautiful ocean waves whipping up mist as they keep flowing into the shore one after the other. On the other hand, a surfer needs to be in excellent shape just to survive the pummeling they often take from the ocean. There is an admirable quality about surfers in that they will go to great lengths to wake up super early in the morning to get to the beach just before daybreak so that they can catch a few waves before the workday begins. I can’t think of another group of people who are as dedicated or passionate about their past time as surfers are spare perhaps hunters, but hunting is usually done much more infrequently. Most professional athletes are similarly dedicated but waking up at the butt crack of dawn to shoot hoops or throw the football around? I think not. The passion and dedication that surfers have are on another level entirely, and it is a daily passion. It takes passion, perseverance, and commitment to want to subject yourself to ocean wave beat downs and the possibility of being a shark snack day after day. Imagine though if you will how experiencing that refreshing feeling of jumping into the chilly ocean water every morning to start your day would feel like. It takes self-discipline, and though it is a type of adrenaline addiction, some would call it more of a healthy habit and very much a carbon-neutral past time activity that is also good for our environment. A multi-beneficial habit that keeps you healthy and fit of mind, body, and spirit. So how does surfing relate to opting out of the status quo in life you may ask?
Well, it’s like this — surfers know the importance of putting themselves first. They put what they enjoy doing first in their lives and so should you. Not everyone lives near a beach, so it is unrealistic to expect everyone to adopt surfing. But it’s not so much about surfing as it is about finding something in life that you can be passionate about. Some surfers have even gone so far as to opt-out of the status quo lifestyle that many Americans live by giving up needing to live in a house or apartment. Instead, they’ve pared down their personal belongings to just the essentials and poured their hard-earned money into their surf vans and trucks that have been adapted so that they can sleep and live out of them. Imagine not having a rent or a mortgage payment, waking up to the sound of waves pounding against the shoreline and shrieking seagulls. What a burden off your shoulders that would be. If it sounds impractical to live out of a vehicle, think again. There are plenty of people who don’t even have a vehicle to live out of, and yet somehow they still make it work. This is not to suggest that you should give away all of your possessions and become homeless, it is merely to point out there are other perspectives you can take on life. All this is to say that there are other ways to live that you may have blocked out of your mind as nonsensical or something you would never consider. How badly do you really want to opt-out of the status quo?
Ask yourself what you would do with all of that extra money you have in your life if you didn’t have to pay a rent or mortgage payment each month? One smart option would be to invest 25% of your income for the future and live on the remaining 75% of your income to pay off your car loan, pay insurance, gas, maintenance, etc. Your utility bills would cease to exist, and instead, your single utility bill would become your gas, maintenance, and car insurance expenditures. Sure, owning a vehicle is expensive, but it’s not nearly as expensive as owning a house or renting an apartment. Respect is given where respect is due, and surfers, for the most part, have earned my respect with their perspective and way of life.
I hate to say it because of how popular it has become, but social media is a huge time and energy suck. It is a drain on your soul. Do you feel better after surfing through endless Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Instagram feeds seeing all of the regurgitations of the same news articles, advertisements you never asked to see, comments from people you could really care less about, and what other people were up to last weekend? Let go of social media and watch what happens. You’ll be much happier, and I guarantee you won’t even miss it. Let’s face it, the world was a better place before social media, and video games were invented. I know, that’s an absurd thing to say. It doesn’t make it any less valid of a statement though. I totally get that a lot of people, I mean virtually everyone is very much into these two things and they serve as a sort of mental escape from reality. I mean how did we exist at all before smartphones right? Just fine actually. I am not anti-technology, or anti-progressive but one has to wonder if perhaps we are stumbling headfirst down the wrong path currently with our obsession over electronic devices, social media, and video games. Is it all just a reality escape, or are these things really improvements in our life?
I could make a strong argument for the case that before social media and video games, people actually spoke to one another face-to-face, they chose to communicate in person instead of over email or instant messaging. People were not seen everywhere meandering sidewalks and through parking oblivious to the perils of inattentive drivers while looking down at their smartphones. People actually read paper books, newspapers, and magazines instead of 3-to-5 paragraph articles online. Tech is phenomenal, and it has truly revolutionized the world, but is it all for the better? Time will tell I suppose, but rarely do you ever get anything valuable from social media. Yet, you can lose a lot by using these platforms. Like friends, family members, your kids being shamed or bullied to the point of committing suicide, and your job. Think of all the personal images and information you put into social media. Are you getting the same reciprocal level of positive energy back from social media? It is highly doubtful.
What’s more, is that countless people have expressed their personal views in online discussion threads and have consequently been publicly shamed or even fired from their jobs in extreme cases. People will go to great lengths to cyberstalk and hunt people down for differences of opinions and words that were written on social media. Social media has become a melting pot of political hacks, wannabe Kardashians posting half-nude pictures of themselves, and toxic trolls who take pleasure in tormenting others with their offensive written words in forums. All the while the marketing firms are tracking everything you do online with browser cookies and the social media platforms are collecting your data and selling it to marketers to understand better how they can market their products to you. So is that “Free” social media account really free?
Ask yourself what value there is in having social media accounts that can be used to target you by your enemies, cyberstalkers, marketers, or snoopy employers who want to see what dirt they can find on you? The answer is no value, none whatsoever! It is astonishing that so many people have turned to social media to fill an empty void in their lives where their happiness is dependent on how many followers or likes they have. Email is perfectly fine for sharing pictures of the family or keeping up with old friends. Don’t believe everything you read online, much of it is biased and possibly fake. It is up to the reader/viewer to try to determine how the information is being spun to suit the desires of whoever is disseminating the information.
There is a lot of disinformation on the Web perhaps in the hope that people won’t take the time to research things, even a little bit on their own. You should opt-out of the BS and get your news from reliable sources other than social media. One way of doing this is to read reports from neutral news sources, or as close to neutral as you can find that presents information in an objective and unbiased manner. *Note: This is hard to do. If you don’t have time to do that, then at least try to read news from both liberal and conservative media sources to try to find the middle ground on a particular issue. You may not get every angle, but you’ll be better off than just getting your information from one source. Before you disseminate information to others, do your own personal research on the issue and verify that it is relatively accurate before you poison someone else’s information well and become part of the problem instead of the solution. Opt-out of social media for your own peace of mind and from the BS information in your life.
A Culture Bent on Excess
Beware the endless trap of spending just to spend. Have you ever heard the saying that ‘we are what we repeatedly do?’ It's true, if you repeatedly watch TV shows that glorify retail therapy as a form of psychological therapy, then you are in for a downward spiral that will eventually lead to moral and financial bankruptcy. Americans have developed a bad habit of spending more money than they have, and what’s worse is that we’ve allowed our elected politicians to amass an ungodly amount of national debt that our children will be saddled with for generations to come. Why we haven’t demanded legislation that requires a balanced annual government budget at federal, state, and local levels is baffling and completely irresponsible by the elected politicians who are paid with taxpayer dollars. It’s time they are held accountable for their actions and inaction.
Alarmingly, some people actually believe that as long as there is a balance remaining on their credit card limit or blank checks in their checkbook, they’re good to keep on spending. As Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin mention in their classic best selling book, “Your Money or Your Life,” your money is your time on this Earth. It is your lifeblood in a materialistic sense. If you think of it in these terms, you’ll be much more likely to spend it wisely. Suddenly, those daily $6 cups of gourmet coffee at Starbucks aren’t as appealing anymore considering over the course of 52 weeks or 1 year, your coffee habit amounts to over $1,560. Yes, but we MUST HAVE coffee. This culture of excess living is anything but healthy for us or the environment that sustains us, and it is instead leading us down a narrow path towards self-destruction.
Have you ever stopped to consider why it is cheaper to buy a fast food meal than it is to buy organic fresh food ingredients to prepare a home-cooked meal? Eric Schlosser’s book, “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” describes in excruciating detail how the fast food industry has whittled away at production and distribution costs to the point where they’ve stripped out most of the nutrients from their food products. This has made it so that it is now cheaper for people to consume unhealthy fast food than healthier food options grown by farmers and livestock owners. It’s no wonder there is an obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer epidemic in this country. Look no further than our excessive consumption of unhealthy foods. Our bodies are overwhelmed by these sneaky saboteurs. Meanwhile, we’re just looking for a quick bite to eat to sustain through our daily grind. Those who are poor are more likely to eat cheaper food options such as the fast-food joint on the corner than healthier, more expensive organic food options that require more work to make meals from.
Health is becoming directly correlated to how wealthy a person is as well. It’s getting to the point now in the superpower country that America is, perhaps the wealthiest nation on the planet in the 21st century, that only the rich can afford health care insurance and the rising cost of prescription medications. Isn’t that sad and pathetic? We don’t need socialism, but one would think that the most powerful nation on Earth could do a better job of taking care of its citizens, some of which live in ghettos the likes of which are reminiscent of third world countries. Opt-out of the status quo diet and unhealthy lifestyles, you’ll need far fewer trips to the doctor and dentist office as a result.
Debt is Slavery
Debt is slavery, there’s no getting around it. Debt will hold you back from living the life of your dreams. There is a movement afoot in the nation to build tiny homes, and it is all the rage if you watch HGTV. People, younger people especially, are disillusioned with the traditional concept of going deep into debt to buy a home or afford college. People are beginning to wise up and realize that there are other options that they can choose from in life. Opt-out of the keeping up with the Joneses Kardashian-esque lifestyle. Be debt-free and pay cash for everything. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later on. It may seem nutty, but try to be content with what you have in life. Small improvements to your possessions can be made incrementally over time if you feel the need to. There’s no shame in driving an older, used vehicle until it stops working. Think of all the money you’re saving along the way as long as the maintenance costs don’t outweigh the value of the vehicle. You don’t actually NEED everything you WANT right now. Remember, there’s always someone who is much worse off out there than you. In the immortal words of Kendrick Lamar, “Be humble, sit down.” All jokes aside, however, it’s okay to want material things. Just try not to let your desire to consume your existence. We Americans have become used to seeing these egregious displays of opulence on TV shows and in cinema. That’s not reality. You need some money to survive, but there’s a lot more to life than money. Keep in mind that old adage that says you can’t take your money with you after the curtain falls the last time.
But let’s pull the thread on this money thing a little more. After all, “time is money,” “money is the root of all evil,” and “money can’t buy you happiness,” right? Why does it seem like retailers in the U.S. continue to price gouge Americans more and more every year? Prices for every day, household items, clothes, furniture, even utilities such as water, electricity, and natural gas continue to increase even though manufacturing has become cheaper due to technological advancements. Is this due to inflation or corporate greed? The answer is probably a bit of both. Gas, clothing, food, household items, restaurant food prices, movie theaters ticket, and food prices. You name it, everything is becoming more expensive. But are our employers paying us more money for our jobs to counter the costs of roughly 2% inflation per year? Absolutely not, so who is the loser in this situation? You are, the worker.
Inflation in the U.S. over the past 40 years is unparalleled and the only ones making a profit are the corporate sector and the politicians they lobby to get legislation passed that favors their industry so they can make more money. I mean honestly people, why in the @#$# would you pay $1,000 for a frickin’ cell phone? Chances are the screen will be broken anyway within the first few months of owning it. But manufacturers and retailers know that you’ll pay those prices because it’s the next best thing and you must have it. That’s how they want you to feel anyway. You can opt-out of that BS and the faster, the better. Have a functional cell phone? Good. Enough. The corporate greed in this country is astounding, it’s on a whole new level, like “The Wolf of Wall Street” movie level, and it is furthering the already enormous wealth gap between the rich and the rest of society. The bourgeoisie, or middle class, is rapidly disappearing to the point that both parents in the typical American family with their 2.5 kids (what does that even mean?) have to work just to make ends meet.
The one-percenters, as they are colloquially referred to as, are the richest of the rich who continue to become wealthier while everyone else becomes poorer. Think of the heirs to the Hilton and Trump hotel property chains. But not everyone can be silver spoon-fed in this world, there have to be workers to do the actual work that needs to be done to make the world go around right? Well, of course, to an extent. Don’t think that it is just capitalism that facilitates this trend either, it happens in every type of government and society be it communism, socialism, dictatorships, monarchies. For every kind of society, there will always be the have’s and the have-nots. You can boil it down to its essence and try to argue that there are those who work harder than others and that’s why they earn more and have more stuff, but you’d be mistaken. Show me a rich person, and I’ll show you a million other people who work just as hard if not harder for the pittance they earn. It’s all about your station in life, the situation you were born into, and what you do with the limited opportunities life throws your way.
So why is this wealth gap concerning you may wonder? Well, look around your cities and take note of how many homeless people are living on the streets and in the community parks. How long do you really think that is going to last before some incredibly bad events start happening? World history has shown that once this imbalance reaches a certain tipping point, the have-not’s will rise up and take back all of the wealth that they feel was stolen from them. That is going to be a dreadful day when and if that happens, but it is not too far-fetched considering the American Revolutionary history. Remember that America is less than 300 years old. What will be the catalyst to cause such an uprising? What will it take for the poorest of the poor to finally rise up and fight back? Who knows, but I feel like any number of natural disasters such as an earthquake could be the catalyst for a social downfall. We’ve seen it time and time again on TV whenever a natural disaster occurs, the poor start looting stores and breaking into people’s homes to steal food and stuff they consider valuable. It doesn’t take much for the loose fabric of civilized society to dissolve. My point is this, the less crap you own, the less attractive you are as a target in these types of doomsday scenarios and in life in general. Opt-out of the excessive lifestyle and let just enough be enough.
Wasting Your Life Away in Traffic
If there’s any way that you can possibly arrange with your employer to work a 4-day work week, then I would suggest that you quickly jump all over that as if you needed someone to tell you so. Many employers don’t offer this option to their employees though, so don’t be surprised if your boss laughs in your face when you inquire about your work schedule possibilities. In America, the expectation is for employees to slave away “9-to-5 until your 65” and then retire rather uneventfully into the gentle abyss of retired life and senior discounts at Denny’s. If you live in a crowded metropolis area like so many of us do, the less time you have to sit in traffic wasting away, the better! Anyone who has lived through that can relate. Listening to books on CD or on Audible makes a commute more bearable, but it is still no way to live. Public transit is sometimes a hassle, but it can be a lot quicker than riding solo in your car on the freeway. Public transit is also cheaper in gas expenses and auto maintenance savings. It’s worth asking your employer if you can at least telework once a week if you aren’t allowed to work a 4 x 10-hour workday schedule.
Getting Back to Nature: Going Off-Grid
Running, walking, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, surfing, camping, gardening, rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, river rafting, and spelunking are just a few ways you can get more active and get outdoors. Being active outdoors is proven to keep you healthy and vibrant. You don’t have to be extreme and live off-grid to get back to nature, though for some people going off-grid may actually make sense economically. It's super easy to get fed up with the “rat race” traffic snarls, road rage incidents, suburban track home communities, increasing crime rates, and the high cost of living. The endless cycle of work, work, work to earn money to buy more things keeps us indefinitely broke. There are alternative lifestyles though…
Some have decided to break free of this “rigged” system of living life in a city that forces you to pay homeowners association (HOA) fees, supplemental property taxes, and shuts your electricity off when demand is too high. Perhaps you’ve even considered taking the drastic steps of living off-grid. Maybe you watched a TV show and were fascinated by this lifestyle. You may enjoy the challenges of building your own house, finding a clean water source, hunting for your food, and knowing that your way of living is cheaper and more sustainable in the long-term. It goes without saying though that living off-grid is not for everyone. Living off-grid may be easier for a young person or couple to pull off than an older person or couple simply because it is a hard way of life and requires a great deal of manual labor to make it work. If you can make it work though, off-grid living can be rewarding like nothing else. In any case, try to get off your tail and get some exercise outdoors at least three times a week. Opt-out of the status quo city and suburb life. Perhaps you have to commute a little further to/from work each day, but coming home to your own sanctuary away from the neon signs, obnoxious billboards, loud sirens and beat-thumping drone of traffic could make it all worth it.
Do What Makes You Happy in Life
I used to really hate it when people told me as a kid to “Just do what makes you happy,” because it’s just not that simple. Thanks for the advice, but don’t be ridiculous. I get it, I really do. Sometimes people have a tendency to oversimplify things. However, it really can be as simple as that if you let it be. What I mean by that is that only you have the power to control your destiny as cheesy or cliche as that may sound. You have to change your perspective and view it from a different angle, something that is admittedly easier said than done. We’re all born into this world with a unique set of circumstances. Some of us are born into poor environments but are showered with lots of love and turn out to be awesome people. On the other hand, some of us are born into rich environments but are ignored or mistreated and turn out to be total douchebags. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally speaking, we are all a product of our environments. It is possible, though, to change or bend some of these external pressures in your favor to achieve a more favorable outcome. When you think about it, who we are today is the result of a series of small decisions that we make on a daily basis that got us to this point in our lives. All it takes is for you to start making tiny lifestyle changes here and there, and down the road, over time, those changes could reap immense rewards.
Some people can find something they love doing to earn a living doing it. We’ve probably all worked a job that we absolutely disliked or perhaps even hated, but we kept doing it day-after-day because we had to earn a living to feed our family or perhaps to “progress” to the next career level. Whatever that negative experience was, hopefully, it wasn’t all negative. Hopefully, now you can look back at that time in your life and realize that it is not something you ever want to have to endure again. We work because we have to, but there are also those who work each day because they want to. Work brings them pleasure. I am one of those people. I like to work, it brings me joy as long as I am doing something I want to be a part of. Imagine that. It’s a strange concept, I realize this. It is possible though. For me, it is the joy of working to harden and secure computer systems from threats. Don’t ask me why, but I find comfort in that. It brings me happiness. I don’t have to interact with a computer the same way I do with other humans. I don’t have to make small talk to not seem awkward or be polite, with a computer I program it to do what I need it to do, and it does its job. I guess in a way it is just the simplicity of it, that brings me joy. Thinking of your own personal mind as a digital file directory storage system.
It is challenging to live without some type of financial income, and no one is suggesting that you begin drawing welfare to have more time to do the things you enjoy doing. This whole concept of opting-out of the status quo in life is about finding something you like and pursuing that as a career instead of whatever it is you’re presently “stuck” doing that you dislike. Even though we all need money to live on, your happiness is still worth more than a paycheck. So, don’t be that person who endures and suffers for a paycheck. Try to position yourself financially such that you can afford to quit a job if you have to find a better job that makes you happy. Have you ever heard that to change as a person it requires you to become sick and tired of being sick and tired? You have to first reach the point in your life where you get so sick of doing something (e.g., your job) that you’ll do just about anything to get away from it and earn a living doing something else. In the end, we all have a limited time to live, and to a small extent, we do have some, if but only a tiny, measure of control over how we spend our lives. Opt-out of the status quo jobs and do something you genuinely enjoy regardless of what it pays. Pick up and move if you have to, you shouldn’t restrict your life opportunities to just one place just because it’s all you’ve ever known.
Achieving Frugal Optimist Status
Concerning happiness, most people need some level of income or wealth to consider themselves “safe,” “comfortable,” and “happy.” Think about what that financial dollar amount is for you? Do you need to make $20K a month to live “comfortably” or will $2K do just fine? There are people in the world today who own nothing and have no money such as homeless people, monks, and to a lesser extent minimalists. Some of these people are penniless by choice, some by circumstance. Interestingly, the social caste system of India doesn’t allow for people born into one social class to marry or matriculate out of that particular social class. That is what is known as a cultural influence, and can only be overcome by removing oneself from that society. If you think about it though, most of these people who don’t own a single possession are able to continue existing because other people or companies have generously donated to those in need to support their way of life somehow. It’s either that or those in need work enough on their own to survive. Perhaps they farm crops to live off of, or they collect recyclables to sell in exchange for money. The point is that most people have to do some type of work to survive in this world, so why not choose something you’ll be happy doing if you are able to do so?
Something else to consider is the threat of the ever-expanding wildfire seasons that are ravaging the Western states of the U.S. each year. Here in California at least, it’s becoming a year-round wildfire season due to drought conditions and misuse of natural water sources. Losing everything you own to a wildfire or other natural disaster can be devastating and really puts life into perspective. Escaping with your life and your loved ones is most important and if you’re able to save your pets and perhaps a few small possessions then even better. But how do you start over from scratch at 50 or 60 years old? It would be tough, to say the least, yet people do it all of the time.
So then, to say that life is not defined at least to some extent by money is wishful thinking. When people say it’s not always about the money, ask them well then what is it about? It may not be about money, but try living without money and see how far you get in life. This is an idealistic concept that is not grounded in reality. The reality is that you need money to survive in this world, the sooner you realize that, the better. It is a universal truth, nothing is free in life. Somebody or something somewhere gave something of themselves to make whatever it is you’re using or eating. It was produced or bought through blood, sweat, and tears.
The “frugal optimist” then is as I like to refer to them, someone that has achieved a sort of symbiotic relationship with life and money in the sense that they have figured out how to earn a living, but are still able to enjoy life responsibly yet frugally and optimistically if that makes sense. They are generally happy with what they have, and it doesn’t take much to make them happy. They have invested in their savings and live frugally which puts them in a unique position to be able to walk away from their jobs anytime they choose to. New manager breathing down your neck about something they probably have no clue about? Goodbye. See ya. They have an emergency and investment savings that they don’t touch barring emergency situations. They can survive being laid off and taking a few months to find a new job if they need to. They don’t feel pressured to perform or intimidated by management. Look, you don’t have to be Warren Buffet or Bill Gates to achieve frugal optimist status, but you do have to work your tail off to set the balance in your favor so that you can do the things that make you happy in life. There’s nothing that says you have to work until you’re 65 years old to retire. Your financial decisions that you make now will determine whether you can retire well before 65 or if you have to keep working until your 80-something to pay off all the debt you’ve accumulated by trading your future time for the material pleasures of today… You decide. It’s your life. No one can decide for you. Opt-out of the status quo in life friends, feel better about life.