The importance of choosing life over lifestyle

The importance of choosing life over lifestyle

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.”

life over lifestyle image 1

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.”

life over lifestyle quote

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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By |2018-12-05T14:02:53+00:00December 5th, 2018|36 Comments


  1. Cathy Tubb December 7, 2018 at 11:08 am - Reply

    “Life over lifestyle, which do you choose?” It’s a great question Viv! I’ll be checking out the podcast you mentioned as well as the video. Sharing this one all over the place 🙂

    • Viv December 7, 2018 at 5:52 pm - Reply

      I do believe it’s a message worth sharing. Thanks for spreading the word, Cathy!

  2. Aditya Tiwari December 11, 2018 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Isn’t it possible we can choose both and rely on both things? Just want to know. But yes I also believe life is something we can make for it. But people also explains sometimes lifestyle helps you in some parts to live your life.

    • Viv December 11, 2018 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Yes, it is Aditya. I think Gaur Gopa is just saying you shouldn’t focus on elevating your standard of living at the cost of your life.

  3. Tara Pittman December 11, 2018 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    I so agree that stuff will not make us always happy. I like to treat myself once in a while though as it feels good.

    • Viv December 11, 2018 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      I agree, Tara. As long as whatever we treat ourselves to brings us joy … and doesn’t compromise our lives … I’m all for it. Quite partial to a facial myself 🙂

  4. Amber Myers December 11, 2018 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    I don’t care about name brand stuff, but I am not a minimalist. I do like my belongings 😉 But I would prefer having a life to stuff, and I think I do!

    • Viv December 11, 2018 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      At the end of the day, it’s all about balance, right?!

  5. Alvern @ Success Unscrambled December 11, 2018 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    So true to the core. Chasing those things that don’t bring you peace and love is really sad and the sooner we all come to realise what is really important in life the better off we will be.

    • Viv December 11, 2018 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Glad this resonated with you. Thanks for stopping by and chiming in 🙂

  6. Jessica December 11, 2018 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Perfect timing with this post especially so close to the holidays. We must be grateful for what we have and where we are in life we while not taking it for granted.

    • Viv December 11, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply


  7. Lipi December 12, 2018 at 12:03 am - Reply

    We buy because we want to see ourselves wearing it… and once we do, the thrill is over. It’s like a bad case of infatuation which doesn’t turn into anything serious.

    • Viv December 12, 2018 at 3:27 pm - Reply

      Haha! I like how you put that. So true!

  8. Konstantina December 12, 2018 at 2:01 am - Reply

    I wish I had read this post a few years ago. I am proud to say that now I am a completely different person but I definitely used to live only for the lifestyle once.

    • Viv December 12, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      You and me both! Live and learn, as they say 🙂

  9. Gladys Nava December 12, 2018 at 6:24 am - Reply

    I love the thought and the message of this blog.

    • Viv December 12, 2018 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Gladys!

  10. Katie Beck December 12, 2018 at 7:37 am - Reply

    It is ALLLLLL about the PEACE for sure. This is great and a good reminder at the holidays especially.

    • Viv December 12, 2018 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Yep! Wishing you a peaceful new year!

  11. Elizabeth December 12, 2018 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    A thought provoking post, this. I suppose it’s all about the journey though, and not the destination, in life. Enjoy it, wherever it takes you!

    • Viv December 13, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Yep. Wherever it takes you, and with whatever you have.

  12. Echo December 12, 2018 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I’m not a minimalist, but I also don’t believe in trying to live beyond what I have.

    • Viv December 13, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      I think that’s exactly what Gaur Gopa is saying.

  13. blair villanueva December 13, 2018 at 5:26 am - Reply

    I agree for a notion money can’t buy you happiness, but if you do it right money will truly give you happiness. You just be wiser how to shop.

    • Viv December 13, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Hmmm … I kind of hear what you’re saying. I suppose yes, money can buy you things that can make your life more comfortable and therefore happier. That said, a friend of mine just returned from a small village in India, where the people had nothing; large families living in one room, and still the happiest kindest people she met.

  14. Sundeep December 13, 2018 at 5:29 am - Reply

    In the end its the people and relationships that matter. No one remembers you for the cars you drove or the bungalows you lived in.

    • Viv December 13, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      So true!

  15. Traci Frett December 13, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    A great reminder and an eye-opening post. I’ve recently picked up a similar mindset and I enjoy my life so much more. I go to the store now and don’t find an excuse to buy something like I did in the past, and I realized I don’t need the nicest things to feel happy.

    • Viv December 13, 2018 at 4:18 pm - Reply


  16. David Elliott December 14, 2018 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    It all comes down to appreciating the things we have in life. When we do that we don’t get caught up in the lifestyle game. It’s not easy but it does work. And there are always things to do and be happy about.

    • Viv December 14, 2018 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      I couldn’t agree more, David.

  17. Bindu Thomas December 17, 2018 at 2:55 am - Reply

    What a great blog! I love those quotes about how many rich are you? I agree with you. Money only bring us temporary happiness. Good reminder.

    • Viv December 19, 2018 at 1:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to read it Bindu!

  18. Nicole December 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    This is such a great post. Sometimes the line between life and lifestyle can get fuzzy but you are absolutely correct that life is far more important than lifestyle. Whether you call someone on the new Iphone or a Samsung, you are still going to talk to the same perosn.

    • Viv December 19, 2018 at 1:04 pm - Reply

      Exactly, Nicole!

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