Minimalist Mindset 2: When Net worth becomes Self Worth, Our Freedom Clutches its Throat

On Minimalist Monday, We’ve understood the timeless relevance of Simple Living practice and the vicious role of consumerism. We’ve also marinated in the first mindset essential to the path of a minimalist, that our joy and transformation need to be earned, not bought. This week, we dive underwater to see the second essential mindset to walk the path to a simple, more fulfilling life.

If you says that money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time: You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is, in order to go on doing things you don’t like doing.

Said seventy years ago and still remain true, the words of the remarkable philosopher Alan Watts disclose the dangerous wheel on which the modern society and many of its hamster citizens are running, faster and faster, stuck in the slavery circle of: work to earn, earn to spend, spend to end up wanting more because we can never get enough of what we don’t need, wanting more to wind up in debt or greed for more money - both compel us to work more. Time passes by, and we forget who we really are.

The other day, I stayed after yoga class to talk to my teacher. Somehow our conversation diverted from yoga to the way to live life. My teacher said that we live as if we are in a permanent dress rehearsal for happiness. We work and save to buy nice outfit, nice phone, nice car, nice house. “But does it last?” my teacher asked and then answered himself: “No it doesn’t. We feel good maybe for two days, may be for one day, maybe for a moment when our friend comes to our house and says ‘Oh, nice house!’” He paused for a moment, and continued, as if he was reminding himself, something all great teacher does: “We search for happiness from outside of us, while happiness is right inside us.” He looked at me: “Do you understand?”. I smiled and nodded: “I do.”


I grew up in a tiny apartment on the ground floor of a rundown building, which got flooded after an hour of rain and where the aftermath was my mother and four-year-old me drying the house by soaking sewage water in big pieces of cloth and squeezing it out in buckets. Seeing my parents’ struggle to keep the family afloat, I worked to make money since junior high – without their permission of course. Plus, I studied Business. For many years, I’d equaled success and happiness with richness and the abundance of possessions. I don’t know what shifted my world view. Maybe it’s the nights sleeping in my family’s new and confortable house wishing my dad to spend more time at home, perhaps just a few hours that he was neither stressed nor too tired to talk. Maybe it’s the miles I travelled and my encounters with the miserable rich and the joyous poor. Maybe it’s the books I read.

But I know that the moment I stopped associating net-worth with self-worth, I began to feel free. Yes, freedom is the only word that can describe the reward of this shift in perspective. Free from the insatiable work-earn-spend hamster wheel.  Free from the fear of “not make it” – without even knowing what it is.


Combine this new found freedom with the self-assuring redefinition of self-worth: “I am not what I own. I am what I do, what I think and who I love”[1], and the understanding that personal transformation cannot be bought; I am a twenty-something dazzled at the benevolent immensity of what life can offer. Doing what I love suddenly becomes a reality. In fact, it has always been the reality. It was me that was blinded by the blindfold of fear all along. When the invisible chains bounded around my ankle break, and I am free to walk, run, fly to my dreams.

Therefore, to simplify one’s lifestyle by reducing possessions, by increasing self-sufficiency, by being satisfied with what one needs rather than want, nurtures the courage and inner peace to follow one’s heart. That’s how grand the benefit of being a minimalist can be.

What about you?

Are you free?

[1] Francine Jay, The Joy of Less

Minimalist Monday:

- Minimalist is Not Trendy But Timeless, and We are Puppets on the show of Consumerism

- Minimalist Mindset 1: Enjoyment and Development are Earned, Not Bought

- Minimalist Mindset 2: When Net worth becomes Self Worth, Our Freedom Clutches its Throat 

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