I am currently writing from a tiny studio apartment somewhere off the coast of Nicaragua.
I knew some serious life lessons were on the horizon when I decided to sell everything I own, pack a small bag and move to a tropical island that is 2.9 square kilometers small and sits 70 kilometers from any coastline.
In my little space I have a bed, a fridge, a toilet, a camping stove, a dressing table and some pots and pans. What I do not have is air-conditioning, electricity between 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., an oven, hot water, a TV, internet, a wardrobe, kitchen appliances, drinkable water, a washing machine or a couch.
I share this space with my husband, a few cats, ants, geckos, spiders, occasionally some roosters and my two girlfriends (who actually live above me).
Between my husband and I we earn about $200 a week.
I lie in bed at night and think about my life before we hit the road. We worked anywhere between 50-60 hours a week and we owned a lot of stuff. I had the best of everything: surfboards, cars, fancy furniture, a myriad of clothes, blenders, juicers, food processors, and high-speed internet.
Back then I seemed to have it all, yet I still felt the pressure to have more.
To be more.
To make more.
How was this possible? How did I have everything but still felt like I was lacking? Why was I not happy?
Maybe it’s because we are sold an idea of happiness.
If we look a certain way, we will be happy. If we own more things, we will be happy. If we earn better money, we will be happy.
Well, guess what? I have never, ever owned or earned so little, yet I have never, ever been so happy?
It feels like we are constantly bombarded with the idea that our lives are not enough. That we are not enough. Every single day we are reminded that there is more to be bought, more to be earned, more to accumulate. The media, advertisement companies, TV shows and magazines depict an idea that happiness is something external, as if it can be purchased, earned or gifted.
This way of life can be extremely stressful, like running on a treadmill that never turns off. Because if we base our happiness on the premise of ownership, status or money we can never officially reach that objective. There is no definitive point of completion. We could always own more, or earn more or be in better shape. We could literally run on that treadmill for the rest of our lives and never achieve happiness.
Or—we could get off the treadmill and walk away.
The minute I sold my possessions and moved to this little Island I quickly learned exactly what I need and it made me reassess what I actually want.
I realized that I don’t need new clothes every week. I don’t need a higher salary and I don’t need the latest iPhone. I actually need very, very little to be deeply happy.
Food, water, shelter, love and yoga are my essentials. No more, no less.
When we look at happiness from our internal-selves and become independent of our social environment, everything becomes a lot simpler. Happiness is finally within reach. In this day and age where suicide, depression, anxiety and eating disorders are out of control it is up us to break the cycle.
We need to develop the ability to find happiness and purpose regardless of our external world.
Living minimally has helped me achieve this. It is an extremely liberating way to live. I realized the things I owned not only cluttered my house but also my mind. My possessions were distracting me from real joy, real contentment and real satisfaction.
Earning less and working less has freed up time for me to do things I actually enjoy. Choosing to minimize my consumption has shifted the power of contentment into my own hands. I have realized the true value of good relationships, laughter, and love. I have discovered the importance of work satisfaction over objects, money and status.
This shift in perspective has bloomed a happiness in me like never before. No more do I yearn, or want, or wish. Of course I have goals and dreams, but they are no longer linked to things.
Finally, this moment is enough. My wage is enough. My possessions are enough. I am enough.
We don’t have to sell everything we own and run away to a little Island to develop internal happiness. We can just learn to notice what our happiness is attached to and begin to reflect on what makes us feel content. Maybe even begin to live more simply and notice how it changes our perspective.
Each and everyone of us deserves a deep happiness and peace that is unresponsive to the material world—to live with less and feel more.
Author: Victoria Hogg
Images: Author’s own
Editor: Deb Jarrett