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  • Writer's pictureKhawla Shehadeh

Money & Freedom

The Dalai Lama once told the funny story about the time he had a conference in New York that lasted for several days. Each day he was driven from the hotel to the conference venue in the morning and back again in the evening. On the way they passed a high-tech store with all kinds of gadgets displayed in the window. He would pass by this shop everyday twice a day. After the third day, he noticed a strong urge to want to look there to buy something. He admitted that he had no idea what the gadgets were nor what their function is, but he felt very strongly a desire to want to buy them.

So recognizable. Even things you didn't want at first or that you were fine ignoring can suddenly become objects of your desire upon repeated exposure. In a world full of constant advertising and societal pressure to purchase more and more and to buy new experiences, there is never a shortage of that repetition. So, off you go...

When you buy something, you pay for it with money. That can be a lot or not so much money, but what is the real value of your purchase? I have discovered for myself that the value of each expenditure is better translated in terms of time. After all, you have to work for your money and a lot of time goes into that. Actually most of your (young) life is spent on work. Time you could have spent otherwise: reading books, walking in nature, playing with your child, learning to play guitar, staring at your toes. After a minimum base salary you need to support yourself, everything you earn after that is a choice in how you invest your time and energy. Every minute, every hour is precious and you will never get it back. These are choices that should not be taken lightly. In fact, you are paying for every purchase with your freedom. That's what it is basically. So is the expense still worth it? What gives you more happiness? That's just a different perspective on consumption that has become an eye-opener for me.

Money can also give freedom, I hear you say. This is true to a certain extent. With more money, you can afford a bigger house, a more expensive vacation, maybe even retire early. But acquiring money is often enough accompanied by a lot of stress, (failure) fears, conflicts and health issues. A beautiful saying in Tibetan reads, "You give up your health and happiness to acquire money only to spend your money again to regain your health and happiness."

This change in perspective has made me evaluate my purchases more consciously. I prioritize quality over quantity and prefer to invest in enjoying ordinary experiences and giving meaning to my life rather than accumulating money and stuff. Valuing my time as a precious commodity allows me to redirect it toward activities and relationships that truly enrich my life. As a bonus, I experience incredible relief by letting go and saying to myself, "I don't need this." It is an exercise in contentment that brings with it much peace. Sometimes I walk through a store and put all sorts of things in the basket only to put everything back because I realize that the fleeting thrill of wanting is actually over. Like Marie Kondo, the Japanese organising guru, asks the question with every items she keeps in her house, "Does this spark joy in me?"I do the same, but already before I've even checked it out.

I find solace in nature, cherish meaningful conversations and enjoy moments of silence. I am grateful to be able to do meaningful work and for the appreciation I receive for it. In simplicity, I have found a great sense of contentment and a new appreciation for the present moment. This way of life also automatically helped me embrace sustainability. Instead of throwing things away at the first signs of wear and tear, I began to discover the art of repair and reuse. Restoring old clothes, repairing broken furniture and reusing things gives me a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency.

Mindfulness helps me tremendously on this path. It gives me the calm and insight to be able to distinguish between fleeting impulses and real needs. By cultivating this awareness, I can make conscious choices about how I want to spend my time, energy and resources and make sure they align with who I want to be, what makes me truly happy and what I want to accomplish in this world.

I just wanted to share this with you, thank you for reading this far. I look forward to seeing you (again) at a training, workshop or relaxation day. That is what makes me truly the happiest. Learning, growing and relaxing together. Check the website for the full agenda:

Sweet greetings, enjoy the sunny days!

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