As I recently wrote about, I feel so incredibly filled up and fulfilled these days.
I focus on passions and pursuits that totally fill me with joy. Whereas most people focus too much (or even solely) on money, I simply see money as something that adds a little sweetness to my life.
But what is the opposite of being full? If you’re not fulfilled, what are you?
The answer to both of these questions is: empty.
And I believe this feeling of emptiness is a root cause for a lot of the world’s ills, especially in certain developed economies (like America) where many people have access to enormous wealth yet simultaneously find themselves unfulfilled and unhappy.
Consumerism Is Your Imagination Digging A Giant Hole
Being caught up in consumerism is like your imagination digging a giant hole on your behalf.
This giant hole leaves you feeling empty inside. That’s because a hole is… well… empty.
How does one fill this hole?
With dirt, of course. But since this is an imaginary hole that was created out of thin air by misplaced desire, the dirt becomes stuff. Lots of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. And then more stuff.
You see where I’m going here.
The problem is that the hole has no bottom.
It’s a bottomless pit that requires one to shovel ever-more stuff into it, in a vain attempt to fill it and the emptiness it brings about. The more effort that is expended in trying to fill the hole, the more effort one must then expend in order to continue trying to fill it. It’s akin to jumping on the hedonic treadmill and running faster and faster.
Just when one thinks they’re making progress (look at the new car I just bought!), they realize that the hole is just as large as it ever was. It’s a baffling exercise in futility.
There Is No Hole
The best way to avoid the whole scenario is to realize there is no hole. There never was a hole. It doesn’t exist until you give birth to it via your own imagination.
Once you’re able to come to this realization, you’re free to put down the shovel and go about your life. You’re free to spend your time on far more meaningful and fulfilling exercises that aren’t futile.
Indeed, I believe financial freedom is the foundation upon which one can stand and break free from the imaginary shackles of consumerism and misplaced desire. If a hole keeps you below ground, financial independence lifts you incredibly high in the air. Financial independence lifts you up instead of dragging you down.
Financial independence is freeing. That’s the freedom in financial freedom. It allows you to be anyone you want to be.
Actually, it allows you to be more than you.
It’s a situation where 1+1=3. Financial independence is more than the sum of the parts, in my experience. And as someone who reached financial independence in their early 30s, I’d say I have some experience here.
Financial freedom is the complete opposite of being imprisoned by a bottomless hole that you must endlessly attempt to fill.
I see consumerism, hedonic adaptation, and the way most people in developed economies go about their lives as much like the fruitless adventures of Sisyphus.
Just when you think that new thingamabob is going to fill the hole and bring you happiness, you realize that not everything that glitters is gold. The hole remains as empty as ever.
Likewise, just when Sisyphus believes the boulder is ready to roll over the top of the hill, it comes crashing back down again. He must start anew.
Logic might dictate that Sisyphus should just walk away from the rock. However, he has no choice.
Logic might also dictate that one should stop shoveling. In this case, there is a choice. Yet emotion seems to take over for a lot of people, keeping them in place.
I write this article as someone who’s experienced both sides of the coin. I, too, was once trapped by my own imagination, trying to fill this empty hole with stuff. I never felt full. I never felt truly happy. I never felt free… because I wasn’t free.
Now that I own very few physical possessions and spend very little money, I’m happier than ever. It’s because I realized there was never a hole in the first place. I was free to put down the shovel, go about my life, and redirect my energy toward building a more sustainable, meaningful, and fulfilling life. By doing so, I was able to achieve financial independence in my early 30s, which now allows me to pursue the passions that actually add lasting value to my life.
What about you? Do you ever feel like you’re shoveling stuff into a bottomless hole?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: Becris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.