Spirituality means something different to each and every person; it does not fit in a box and it does not conform to one person’s ideals. To live a spiritual life a person does not need to withdraw from the material world. However, some key components to living a spiritual life are learning to live in harmony with the world around us, finding balance, and living a financially stable life.
Each person's understanding of balance and each person's financial means is different, and no two people are similar. Some people find balance by having a strong social life full of activities, while others find balance by living quietly at home. Some find balance through physical activity, while others find balance through professional pursuits. We all have different needs, wants and desires. Balance is met when we spend time in areas of pursuit that bring us fulfillment. True balance is found when we have full work, life, and spiritual integration.
However, it is impossible to find balance and live a spiritually conscious life if we are continuously plagued by financial difficulties and stress. We live in a world of weapons of mass distraction. We are bombarded with advertising designed to convince us that we need the latest, the greatest, and the most expensive to be successful and happy. With all the pressure to have the latest and greatest, how do you live a more spiritual life in such a material world?
I am not a financial expert.
I could not explain to you how savings works, the effects of compounding, or the benefits of putting aside 20% of your income each month. I focus most of my energy on learning how to coach people on ways they can unlock their true potential, achieve their goals, and discover how to live their life on purpose. Nevertheless, I know that my life is easier, and I have more time for myself and my personal pursuits, when I live within my financial means, maintain a budget and actively save money each month. My life is better when I am financially responsible.
To live within your means and have a spiritual practice, a person should begin to spend less than or at least equal to the amount they earn each month. However, for most people, in the age of weapons of mass distraction, it’s a lot easier said than done. We constantly compare ourselves to others, and base success on the amount of possessions we own in relation to our neighbors. Yet when we begin to practice contentment with what we have accomplished in life we become less concerned with status in relations to others, and we begin to focus more of our energy on bettering ourselves and the world around us. We start to need less stuff and life becomes easier. Believing that the new object we buy will bring us happiness is based on a feeling of lack that all too often enters our minds. In this sense, lack is that sense of ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not whole without that new thing’, when really we always were and always will be good enough no matter what. May all beings be happy and free, and may all our words, thoughts and actions contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all.
- Count your blessings. With the attitude of gratitude in life, what we have becomes enough. When you find yourself unhappy with something, or with what you don’t have, take a moment to count all the good things in your life. Focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t.
- Stop, and consider why you want something. When you feel the urge to buy something, think about whether it’s a need or a want. If it’s a want, take a pause. It’s good to wait 30 days — keep a 30-day list… when you want something, put it on the list with the date, and if you still want it in 30 days, you can buy it. Consider why you want something too. Are you not content with what you already have? Why not?
- Show people you appreciate them. It’s good to appreciate people, but it’s even better to show them. Give them a hug, smile, spend time with them, thank them out loud, thank them publicly, breathe, and smile. Once again, advice from one of my favorite monks, but it works in this context. Sometimes when we take the time to breathe and smile, it can change our outlook on life.
- Learn to enjoy the simple things. Instead of wanting to buy expensive things and spend money on doing things like eating out or entertainment, learn to enjoy stuff that’s free. Conversations and walks with other people. Spending time outdoors. Watching a DVD or playing board games. Going to the beach. Playing sports. Running. These things don’t cost much, and they are awesome.