Dear Gen Z – Do you feel it in your bones that you are being manipulated with fear? There are two fears I see being used to manipulate young people. They are the fear of being alone and the fear of being financially destitute. “Society” manipulates you with both of these fears, and if you can recognize this and shift your consciousness, you can take back control over your life. This article will share some things I learned about getting by in the world. If you want to scan ahead you can. If you have some time, you can read along.
When I was coming of age the big fear was for survival. You had to go to school and get really good grades so you could go to the best college (better than your friends), and then you could get the best job and the best house and the best car, and then at 65 you could retire wealthy and move to Naples, FL where nothing worse can happen to you than being stuck in a long line for a table at the Outback Steakhouse. I ran that race from 1988 to 2013, and now I’d like to see if I can help someone else save a couple decades.
The message we were fed told us we had to conform to all these requirements or else we’d end up living in a cardboard box. Scary right?
So the first mental shift you can make is…
- If you learn to be of service and to live simply, then you can do whatever you want and go anywhere.
My dog literally taught me this lesson. He’s perfectly happy wherever we go, as long as he has his doggy bed. It really does not matter if we put it in the back of a van, or in a tent, or in a crappy Air BnB or in a fabulous house. He does not have a mind full of ideas about what he should want, or that something else would be better. What makes him happy is being able to run around in the fields and streams of Colorado, or down the beach in Miami, or just around the neighborhood. And this is really a profound shift in thinking you can make to free you from the fear of scarcity. If you live simply, the world is abundant.
What you do have to do is construct a sustainable (which means debt free) life for yourself. The most important thing you can do to create a sustainable life is to live very simply. To be sustainable you have to “make ends meet,” and there are two ends. One “end” is what you produce or create in the world, and the other is what you consume. Society wants you to consume a ton of stuff, and to make that sustainable, you have to earn or produce or create the same quantity. So the first “end” you can work on is the living simply side of the equation. If you can learn to be happy with a metaphorical doggy bed, then you can put it anywhere and do whatever you want. It’s only when your needs get too big that your life becomes a chore.
Think about it. What is the difference between a canoe or a paddle board and a huge yacht? Well sure, a yacht you can fill up with friends and party, and you can impress a bunch of people on Instagram. But really, 90% of the benefit of the boat is access to the water. You get 90% of that with a kayak or even better, a small sailboat. It’s better for the environment and it’s actually a lot more fun than being in a living room on a giant yacht. And you can make real friends who like sailing or paddle boarding. Can you meet a lot of other friends with big yachts (do you want to??)
I was reading an article today about people in the Hamptons fighting over the East Hampton Airport operations. The Billionaires fly over 200 flights a day during the peaks in an out of this Northeast Beach Town, and the only-multi-millionaires object the noise of helicopters and jets screaming in an out every day–it’s the sound of people richer than they are coming to town! They have lawyers and arguments and all kinds of aggression. Does that make any sense at all? People who have everything fight over nothing. What happened to the beach itself? It has been forgotten. Now it’s all about social standing and who has the biggest mansion.
Not all wealthy people are like this mind you. There are plenty of wealthy people in Telluride Colorado. Super wealthy people even. But you would never know it. They walk in town for coffee. They hike. They ski. They enjoy the outdoors. These are super smart, highly successful, and very happy people. And what makes them so much happier than those folks fighting over the Hampton airport (who mostly go to Aspen), is that they are in touch with simplicity.
I am very blessed to be in a position in life where my material needs are abundantly satisfied. What makes me and my wife happy is the freedom to engage in the simple pleasures of hunting for mushrooms in the forest, or walking the dog, or cooking a good meal with friends. We make our own bed, we clean our own kitchen, we cook our own meals, we do our own shopping, and we enjoy these simple pleasures. YOU have the right to enjoy simple things–chop wood, carry water is the zen principle here.
Many of our very best friends are materially not wealthy at all. But spiritually they are so rich. One of my very good friends maintains properties in Telluride. He knows every trail on the mountain. He’s 6-4 maybe 180 pounds, and he is in ridiculously good shape and healthy. I met him when we first bought our place in town there. I remember thinking, oh my, that’s the kind of shape you have to be in to get the best out of Telluride. He is of tremendous service and his needs are simple. His life is a model that you won’t see in school, but it’s one you can easily implement for yourself.
And that gets us to the other “end,” which is what your produce or create. The basic idea here is to simply learn to be of service. If you show up on time, have a pleasant demeanor, and if you can be of some utility, then you will be welcome anywhere. You will get a job anywhere, and you will start meeting people who enjoy being in your company. Before you know it, you will find yourself being pulled into an awesome life. One step at a time.
You see if your needs are simple and if your goal is truly to be of service, you can do that by doing something you love to do. Let that sink in… what you do to make your way can be something you actually enjoy doing, as long as your needs are simple.
Let’s say you like to build things out of wood. You could be of service in carpentry. If you show up in Telluride and tell anybody you are a carpenter, and then you show up on time and treat people honestly, you will have no shortage of work to do. If your needs are simple, you can cherry pick your clients so that you work with nice people, and you can get by on a reasonable work schedule that gives you plenty of time to ski or travel or do whatever you want. I know people who set up websites, who teach English in Brazil, who do photography projects, who clean houses. It’s not hard to find opportunities to serve if you truly want to serve.
People who have simple needs and who are of service, find little niches to live in. This is such a great way to spend your 20s before you have kids and a family and a lot of responsibilities.
Society will tell you that you need to accomplish its prescription of goals and agenda or else your whole life will be a failure. But the bargain they propose… work your ass off in a job you hate to pay for a big house you are never in, so that you can retire with a 401K when you are 65… that whole dream is an illusion.
Life is a grand adventure for those who open up to it. Freedom from fear is the first step. I hope someone out there finds this helpful.