Filtering by Tag: money

Don't Work

A friend of mine recently remarked on how I seem “really chill”, as if I “don’t work much”. Indeed, I told her that I’m lucky enough to work probably less than half the year. And my goal is to continuously reduce that as much as possible, hopefully someday to zero.

This is because “work” as we know it — as a means to obtain money — is unnatural and therefore deleterious to our health and well-being. In the natural world, we would only ever be doing things that directly relate to our survival and pleasure. Money is arbitrary and indirect, and thus the connection is lost.

Let’s say it’s your job to carry a heavy object up six flights of stairs, as it is for a mover — or even that your job is just to sit in one spot for eight hours and analyze numbers. Either way, for your time and effort you are paid a sum that allows you to buy food (survival) or take a vacation (pleasure). But moving that object or analyzing those numbers — at least in the natural world — in no way leads to being fed or smelling the roses. They’re just arbitrary acts for which modern society established a reward system that’s trained us to perform — and even vie for — activities that we would otherwise never think to do; activities that would actually be a waste of our time.

Instead, natural “work” might be putting time and effort into, say, roaming through a forest to forage for something to eat (survival) or to smell a flower (pleasure). It is direct and pure. It is this kind of logical work that creates satisfaction and well-being.

Modern life has overcomplicated this simple, soulful way of being with extraneous variables, perhaps to increase our “standard of living”. But our standards — at least here in the developed world — are actually luxuries and not necessarily worth the price that many pay with surrendering half of their waking life. In many cases, the luxuries themselves even contribute to our unhappiness, such as by isolating us in our single-occupancy apartments.

My uncommonly low workload is made possible by a mixture of luck and design. I’m lucky enough to have parents who set me up with a support system that cushioned me enough to explore ways of being without feeling suffocated by the demands of society. But I also took proper advantage of this and designed my life in such a way as to accelerate my returns on their investment — most notably by finding ways to be self-employed (and thus in control of how my time is spent) and to minimize my spending (and thus my reliance on money and, therefore, work).

An Unexpected Lesson from Over-tipping

As I wrote in a post about a week ago, I’ve begun a practice in over-tipping — meaning that I now tip more than I normally would have; more than what previously felt “comfortable.” My initial objective was to foster an attitude of abundance, but I’m beginning to notice another positive result.

By charging myself a premium on convenience (e.g.: having someone serve me food rather than cooking it myself), I’m simultaneously making myself more aware of what a luxury it really is and further incentivizing myself to be less lazy and not outsource my personal responsibilities.

Not that there’s anything wrong with treating yourself. But it’s healthy to be conscious of the fact that having people serve you in various manners neither is a given nor is natural outside the context of capitalism (or some other arbitrary, socially constructed hierarchy).

On the contrary, the natural (and ideal) way to live is to serve yourself. Using meals as an example, it’s healthier because you have full knowledge of and control over what goes into your body; the skill makes you a more informed, well-rounded person; and the self-reliance builds character and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Of course, I’m typing all of this while I enjoy a six-dollar cappuccino ($4 + $2 tip) lovingly served by my local coffee shop. But at least my 50% gratuity indeed represents exactly that: gratitude. And the total amount hurts just enough — after all, $6 could easily have been an entire meal at a fast food place — for me to treat both this cappuccino and the writing session it has fueled with the respect they deserve.

A Practice in Over-tipping

Beginning a week ago around the time I started this blog, I decided to also commence a practice in over-tipping. I haven’t established the parameters for what this means yet, other than to give more than I normally would. And that’s really all that matters. Any life-improving endeavor only ever requires “more” than what feels comfortable to have its intended impact.

And that’s exactly my aim — to have an impact on myself. Although it feels nice to be generous, for me generosity is a secondary consideration. I’m also not looking to be treated with any special reverence, and indeed I haven’t been since starting this. Instead, it has everything to do with approaching the world with a sense of abundance.

My thinking is, ‘Maybe if I, in some small way, treat money as if it’s no object, then it will become less of an object.’ I may not be monetarily wealthy by most Americans’ standards, but if to some degree I behave and live like I am…what’s the difference?

So we’ll see what happens by the end of the year. If my added expenditures go unnoticed as hoped, then I will consider this experiment a success and look for more ways to open my pockets and more (seemingly precious) parts of myself, material or not, with the growing understanding that there is no scarcity, only abundance.

(If, on the other hand, the account books are looking tight come December, then it’s back to 20%.)