I used to be so sure that if I had more money, I could finally be free.
If I had money, I could travel. I could see new things, have a great time, explore the beauty and wonder of our world. I could buy new clothes and art and furniture that would be more “me,” and thus I’d be free to truly, finally express my authentic self.
If I just had more money, I could be free from worry, stress, and anxiety.
If I had money, I could move somewhere better. I could buy whatever I wanted, when I wanted it, and I’d feel less deprived. I’d have extra in savings and would feel safe.
If only I had more money…
I’ve come to understand that the only thing actually keeping me trapped, limited, and inhibited, in all areas of my life, was this backwards belief that I needed money to feel free, accompanied by the nagging suspicion that there was somewhere else I should be, and it was definitely better than where I was.
But I was miserable with this way of thinking, so I dug deeper to figure out what I could do about it.
When I say I want to travel more, it’s because I want to learn about other cultures, hear different languages, see new sights, and taste exotic new foods. What I really want is adventure, magic, newness. And I can find that for free.
When I lived in Denver, I would ride the bus and hear 4 different languages being spoken in as many blocks.
At one stop, about 20 people from India got on, talking happily in their beautiful language (which I didn’t understand), smelling of curry and other spices I couldn’t identify.
Later down the line we drove through a neighborhood full of taquerias and stores selling quinceañera dresses, piñatas and Virgin Mary candles.
And in a different section entirely was a huge Asian market and all the shop signs bore symbols that fascinated me in yet another language I didn’t know.
Adventure. Magic. Newness. But only if I’m willing to notice it, if I’m willing to appreciate it. All for the cost of a bus ticket in a city I’d lived in for more than a decade.
When I say I want more money to be sure I can pay my bills, what I really want is relief. I want certainty. I want to know I’m safe and all will be well. And honestly, I know now that those conditions don’t depend on money, nor are they guaranteed at a certain dollar amount.
There are people with millions who still worry that they’ll lose it or think it’s not enough. There are people with literally no money who are happy and well. I myself have been poor and happy, poor and miserable, wealthy and dissatisfied, wealthy and joyful. The money never created my feelings.
Of course I want to help make a world where everyone has their basic needs met, and yes, life gets a lot easier when you can pay for basic necessities with ease. But the real lasting feelings of safety, contentment, peace, and well-being are an inside job.
Funny enough, when I stopped looking to money to create those feelings for me, I was able to make a lot more of it. Because I’m just not that productive, helpful, or creative when I’m stressed out and worried about money. And I make money when I’m productive, helpful, and creative. So, there ya go.
Try this next time you feel limited or stuck. Ask yourself:
- What do I really want?
- Why do I want that?
- How do I think I’ll feel if I have that thing?
- What can I believe or focus on now to feel that way today?
- What’s one small action I could take from that feeling to get closer to what I want?
The bottom line for me is that I am free as soon as I decide to be. Freedom is always available to me because it doesn’t come from my outer circumstances. It comes from my mind, from my heart, from my faith in bigger things. And I can access my freedom and celebrate it any time, with any amount of money, anywhere. I wish the same for you as well.