I have always been amazed at how much time people devote to pursuing all things material…cars, gadgets, bigger houses, the newest and shiniest objects. I am also increasingly shocked at how much time people spend with their material things…namely, their phones. And it’s no surprise to me to see so many people I know so unhappy and feeling unsatisfied in life as a result of always chasing the next “thing”.
I have found that once you get on the track of pursuing things, you never get off of it. It becomes a lifelong pursuit of the next thing, often to satisfy a yearning inside that never truly disapates. After all, owning things can’t make you feel better about your sense of self, they can only perhaps help you mask that feeling of inadequacy or unhappiness.
While I am blessed to have worked really hard and therefore been able to get to a place in life where I don’t have to worry about food, shelter, etc., I never really pursued materialistic wealth nor did they motivate me to become successful in my business. My drive was based on my insecurities and anxieties of growing up without much of a foundation in life. But, I must admit that I, too, enjoy nice “things” — I just don’t pursue them or attach much meaning to them.
When we obsess about the material, we wind up spending so much of our days consumed by them. We might love that fancy car we bought and want to enjoy riding in it. We might love that cool new phone and spend hours playing with it. We might spend so much time shopping for something, anything new. And while we do, one truth remains constant that most people don’t think about on a daily basis…we are all going to die one day. That’s a fact and there is no escaping it.
So why we live most of our lives “outside” of ourselves and not “inside” of our inner spirituality is beyond me. There was a great study recently about the regrets of the dying and, almost universally, the conclusion was that we regret chances we never took, spending enough time with the ones we love and pursuing experiences that bring us joy. Nowhere in the research study did it mention anything about material objects.
Knowing that our lives will end one day is in fact one of the greatest gifts ever given to us. And yet most of us waste this gift and spend the majority of our lives trying to ignore this reality.
Several years ago I had a real awakening. I was wasting my life doing things I didn’t want to do, in a job I no longer loved and with people I didn’t really want to spend the majority of my time. And so I radically changed my life…started a new career where I could work from home and be present while my kids were growing up, learned skills and obtained knowledge in a field that fascinates me, built a stronger, more real friend community and pursued my own spirituality and growth along the way. And while the material things I can obtain are far less than they once were, the spiritual wealth I have gained has made me a very, very rich man.
My spiritual net worth is as high as it’s ever been. My life is everything I ever wanted it to be as a result of making these hard choices and prioritizing my spiritual health. I am now more content and present than I have ever been and more connected to my inner self and the things that matter most to me.
I would encourage you to consider spending more time on your spiritual wealth and see how your life condition can completely change. How your health can change. How your daily stress level can go down and your happiness go up. How you can live a life of pursuing experiences and growth, as opposed to things and objects, and see how you will see so much more beauty all around you.
For me, I continue to build my spiritual wealth on a daily basis in ten key ways…
- I practice my faith daily. For me, it’s Buddhism and so I am completely conscious of what it means to be a buddhist every day and I spend time each day devoted to it.
- I see the beauty of the physical world everyday. It may mean taking a walk and marveling at the sky and trees around me or it might be just breathing the fresh air wherever I can. I never take for granted the beauty of the outside world.
- I check in with friends and loved ones nearly everyday. It can be a short text saying I am thinking of them or meeting with them to talk. I try to spend a great deal of time with those I love.
- I limit my screen time. It’s so easy to get lost in Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but I know that it can lead to spiritual death if you don’t have discipline with it. Just ask yourself, with all the time you spent on it last week for instance, how much of it do you really remember?
- I pursue experiences. If there is something of interest like a museum, fair, small trip etc., I take it. If there is a group of friends connecting, I try to go. If there is anything that I can do to connect with people, I pursue it.
- I help wherever I can. If I hear of someone suffering, I reach out. If I learn of a way I can help a cause, I pursue it. It might mean something as simple as donating old clothes or furniture or lending a helping had, but whatever it is, it makes me feel like I am a part of something.
- I talk to people. So many times I see people wandering through life like they have the weight of the world on their shoulder. Too busy to smile. To busy to make small talk. For me, the best way to lose my sense of self importance is to simply say hi to people, smile and engage. Often strangers. Many times just casual acquaintances.
- I read and study things that will help me grow. I am a passionate reader of spiritual books and documentaries. On any subject. Judaism. Catholicism. Buddhism. Stories of hardships and how people can overcome them. It helps me build my spiritual muscle.
- I tell people I love them. Probably the most spiritually rewarding thing I do is to tell those I care about how I truly feel about them. I never want to let a moment go by where I didn’t express how I truly feel.
- I think of my own mortality often. It’s not as morbid as you think, it’s actually the opposite. By thinking that every day could be my last, it helps me focus on the things that are truly important and become focused on not wasting one precious moment.
So, as you can see, it’s not too hard to build a life of meaning and substance. You just need to let go of the things that really, truly won’t matter in the end and instead, pursue those things that will matter each and every day. By spending less of your days on screen time, and more on meaning time, by pursuing material things less and experiences more, and by connecting to real live people more and fake “likes” less, you can become an incredibly wealthy spiritual person. Which, in my mind, is far more valuable than anything else in life.