I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts this morning: The Minimalists. They were talking about excess. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, even more so with the holidays approaching. During this episode, they played a Gaur Gopa video, in which he talks about choosing life over lifestyle. Here’s how it opened:
“Whether you drive a Volkswagon or you drive a Bentley, the road remains the same …
Whether you speak on a Samsung or you speak on an iPhone X, whoever you are calling remains the same … Whether you’re flying economy or you’re flying business, the destination where you are heading remains the same…”
I became an instant Gaur Gopa fan.
Before you defend the virtues of first-class travel, you should know that Gaur isn’t saying that you shouldn’t travel in comfort. He’s just saying that economy is equally capable of getting you there, wherever there may be. He fully recognizes that one choice reflects a higher standard of living, but pleads:
“…in trying to enhance and increase and improvise the standard of your living, please, please do not compromise with the standard of your life.”
We’re living in a world of excess.
If our landfills aren’t a testament to this, our debt loads are. According to an article published in the Financial Post last year, Canadians carry an average of $22,800 in debt, and that’s not including mortgages.
Granted, not everyone in debt is aspiring to a lifestyle meant for the rich and famous. Some are just trying to keep roofs over their heads and get food onto their tables. But many of us are living both lavishly and way beyond our means. Why? Because we’ve convinced ourselves that we need the latest iPhone, that we need to eat at fancy restaurants, that we need to vacation abroad — that we need to keep up with the Jones’s.
“You only live once.”
I’ve heard people utter these words as an excuse to splurge and I’ve certainly used them myself. Yes, we do only live once and we should make the most of it, but not at the cost of a quality life. It’s all well and good to say you may get hit by a bus tomorrow, but if you don’t, will you have the means to support yourself until your time is up? Will you have a circle of friends to help you if you find yourself in poor health?
As you near the end of your life, will you have a house full of gadgets that meant a lot until better ones hit the market or will you have a heart full of meaningful memories?
Another Gaur Gopa gem:
“…there is more to life than money and there is way more to life than what money can buy…if you truly want to know how rich you are, drop a tear and see how many hands come to wipe that tear.”
Choosing life over lifestyle isn’t just about money.
I love nice things but after purchasing a black dress for a wedding in September, I had a mild case of buyer’s remorse. I had bought the dress to go with a pair of silver, thigh-high boots I picked up last October. (Side note: I have NO regrets about buying the boots; they are killer!)
My remorse had nothing to do with money. Buying that dress didn’t impact our financial situation in any significant way. It’s just, I have many outfits I could have worn to that party without adding to my jam-packed closet. Yes, this new addition served me for one evening but the pleasure it brought me was extremely short-lived (6:00 pm to midnight), and looking at it now doesn’t give me the thrill I get when I look at my beautiful silver boots.
Stuff is lifestyle. Peace and happiness are life.
Sometimes they merge, but not always. For me, at this time in my life, the thought of buying and buying and buying without adding to the standard of my life has begun to feel crass. And so I’m making a conscious effort to focus my fun spending on things that enhance my life by either feeding my mind, body and soul, or by making my heart happy.
Life over lifestyle, which do you choose? Remember this when the Boxing Day sales begin.
Viv for today xo
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