There’s a facebook entry going viral where Rick Hanauer, a billionaire who became rich from investing in Amazon in its early days, talks about the growing gap between the rich 1% and the rest of us. From his point of view, the rest of us have it pretty tough. He believes the biggest difference between the wealthy and us is being free from worry. Worry about: “Am I going to be able to clothe my kids?” “What happens if someone gets sick?” “Am I going to be homeless and lose my stupid, crappy job?” “Can I say no to a supervisor who is forcing me to work overtime and not paying me?”
He believes this growing separation creates a high-stakes environment where there isn’t any social or economic alternative to striving to be rich (and secure) because we feel if we’re not rich we’re “basically screwed”. Even though Rick has a valid point, it may not be as bad a picture as he paints.
It depends on one’s perspective. For the bottom half, it’s indeed tough. Yes, most of us are concerned for our future and the future of our families. Some of us take on jobs we’d rather not have; most of us are heavily in debt; and most of us probably long for the days of our parents when the cost of living was way more manageable.
Because of these burdens, we turn to things that help us feel good about ourselves and our lives – yoga, art, hiking, working out, movies, even meditation. These are all truly great, and good for us. But if they’re not what we really need to feed and support our true spiritual hungers, if we use them instead to stave off feeling fearful and insecure, then they only end up giving us false security. You know this if the good feeling they give you doesn’t last very long; if you need to turn to these activities again and again to get back the good feelings, and avoid feeling like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Like me on days when I’m feeling stuck and meditate to escape feeling that way (… meditating for better reasons on other days). Like my brother who, when he smoked, was heavily into organic living in an attempt to make up for hurting himself, unable to give up smoking because he felt too much under pressure all the time.
Compared to the days of our parents, insecurity is real: everything costs so much more, jobs are scarcer, and wages haven’t really increased for decades. Adam Baker in his Ted Talk Sell Your Crap. Pay your Debt. Do what you Love talks about how our fantasy of the “American Dream” is no longer real. Instead, what we end up buying into is a mortgaged home, a mortgaged education, and the prospect of years of paying for it. Nigel Marsh nails it when he says, “There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation working long, hard hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. “
The good news is there is a way out of this seeming impasse. The challenge is that it requires a shift in our expectations and approach.
Mooji, a spiritual teacher from Jamaica, makes the point that we are only truly free to pursue what moves and feeds us spiritually when we let go of concern of what others think, need and want from us. This isn’t a new idea, but perhaps it’s something we often forget. Or simply don’t allow ourselves to consider because it seems too impractical. Too unrealistic. However, there are some steps we can take to can begin to incorporate this wisdom into our everyday lives that works and helps us begin to live freer of worry and burden.
- Know what’s important to you. Take 10 minutes in the morning to reflect on what is most important to you for today. It might be to spend time enjoying the company of your daughter, your spouse or partner, your pet; it might be to take advantage of a beautiful day; to repay a debt. Any thing or activity that is meaningful to you and brings you joy or a sense of fulfilment.
- Choose one thing only. On other days you might choose something else. This is important: if what you deem important has to compete with other important things then there is a danger that none of them will be actualized.
- Make time for that one thing, then do it! Commit to the time it will take for today – be it 10 minutes, an hour, or longer. And then make sure it happens.
Simply doing this one thing every day will begin to help you refocus on what is most important to you, and everything else will simply be the means you chose to accomplish this one thing.
Trust in Life and You will See – Mooji, a Story
Quote of the Week
The regular man will do everything to live, the spiritual man who is searching for the truth will take every opportunity to die. – Mooji