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I have always struggled with money. It’s been a rollercoaster of having abundance and then having nothing and I can’t quite figure out how to find the middle ground. I walked through the shopping centre today and observed people rushing, stressed, busy, not counting the moments and spending their money like there is no tomorrow. I can’t help but wonder at the absurdity of it all.
My children didn’t have fancy prams, or car seats or clothes – we always got second-hand, they still don’t have the latest in technology and all four of us share this one computer. Yet, I can’t remember the amount of times they’ve come home upset because someone criticised them for their holes in their clothes or daggy shoes or lack of branding and not having the latest gadgety-thingamajig.
But you know what I’ve realised?
We have always had our needs met. Always. We have always had a safe place to live, we have always had food – even if it’s pasta, or baked beans or toast, we have always had clothes to wear and beds to sleep in. I have always had everything that I ever need and always had.
As a child, we got chocolate once a week, on a Friday and if we were lucky we would have received six pieces. For whatever reason, it was a treat we looked forward to and I know that I complained about wanting more. Instead of complaining about only getting six pieces of chocolate, I could have just been grateful for what was. It was about perception. It’s about gratitude for what is. I’ve read articles that call this poverty consciousness, about not having enough. But it’s about gratitude. Heartfelt gratitude is everything. It’s about counting your blessings, not looking for the gaps. Get out of the way of the manifestation process and be grateful.
I have a clean environment to live in with fresh air that I inhale deeply at every available opportunity, especially near trees. I don’t live in a war zone or am running from persecution – although with two teenagers in the house sometimes I wonder!!
I have so much to be grateful for. Since when has life been about wanting more? Since when did we decide as a society that if you had a mass of possessions you became “it”? Since when did wealth divide us? Since when did we become the “haves” and “have nots” based on wealth, not on kindness, an open heart and generosity?
In my teaching career, I often teach the five basic needs for a human to survive: air, water, food, shelter and love.
Seriously, that’s all we need to survive. In January 2011, I packed up my house and my kids and squished us into a 1994 four-wheel-drive and a 1978 camper (that was our shelter) and started an adventure around Australia, we had very little luxuries beyond what was necessary and that period would have to be the best time of my life. We were unburdened by “stuff” and we had each other and the open road.
Now we are in a house again and I can see us gathering things again, like dust, accumulating possessions not presence and I want to strip back the layers of stuff. Especially in this Christmas period when accumulation of stuff is at an all-time-high I wonder why?
But at what point did our lives become about bigger and better houses, cars, gadgets, money, things and then competing with our neighbours to have and be the best?
You have $10 million, what will you do?
I have asked the students to spend $10 million as a maths activity with a number of classes and the answer is always the same:
And apart from the girl with the large breasts who wanted to make them even bigger, everyone wanted the same things:
For me, life is about two things: happiness and connection and for both, I’ve been caught in a wanting cycle of wanting better, of wanting more and in a state of seeking rather than being grateful for what is.
My car barely makes it up the hill to my house, the internal components are literally falling off and in all honesty, I’m grateful that it still runs. I don’t NEED a new car, it would be nice, but I don’t need one. It’s been a conscious shift away from wanting to needing and being grateful for what is. It really is a change in my perception.
Discerning the difference between a need and a want is a really valuable exercise but so is practicing gratitude for what is.
In our home, we may not have the greatest quality or quantity of possessions, but we have everything we need for life. Of course it would be nice to have nicer things but I really don’t need them. I have everything I ever need, always have, always will.
Relationship studies have shown that the more you appreciate your partner, the more they want to give; if you criticise, they shut down. So it is with the universe. Stop criticising and complaining about not having enough and start appreciating everything. Start with little things, be thankful that we have an amazing planet to live on, that the air we breathe is clean and that we have each other, because that is what is.
Merry Christmas to you all,
©Alyssa Curtayne 2015
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