do we really need money to be happy?

There’s the saying that money can’t buy happiness.  Is this true?

I often wonder about this.  I wonder if we’d all be better off if we didn’t have money.

But then my immediate reaction is how can I survive without money.  I mean we need money to buy things right?

The other day, I came across this article on Yahoo.  The article is about a German grandmother, 69-year-old Heidemarie Schwermer, who lives without money or any possessions.  You’d think she’s miserable because she doesn’t have a home and maybe assume that she’s just barely surviving.

But the article isn’t about another “homeless” person on the streets just trying to get by.  It’s about a person who consciously gave up all her possessions and money and is more happy than she’s ever been.  And, she’s been living without money for 16 years.

My first thought was, how could this be?  How could a person with no money be happier?

I really wanted to figure how and her secret.  Maybe we can all follow her recipe for happiness and joy!

But before we get there, how does she survive?

Schwermer trades services such as gardening, cleaning, etc for food and a place to sleep.  She travels around and stays with various people along the way.

For her, the whole experience was liberating saying, “Living without money gave me quality of life, inner wealth, and freedom.”

She clearly doesn’t have to worry about paying any bills or a place to store her things.  Schwermer only buys what she needs.

And really, if you think about it, we don’t need all that much.  Do we really need all the gadgets, clothes, shoes, purses, TVs, etc we have?  Probably not.  Is it nice to have?  YES!

I’m the first to admit that I have a closet full of stuff (ok, more than 1 closet).  I was also super excited to get my iPhone4s for Christmas too.  Do I need any of this?  No, not really.

In fact, I was cleaning my room today and thinking that I had too much stuff.  I get tired of cleaning and organizing.  So much brain power is used to figure out where to put everything.

Maybe Schwermer is on to something.

I’m not quite ready to give up all my possessions and do what she’s doing (besides, my parents would have a meltdown if I told them I was going to live on the streets).

But I can still incorporate some of the lessons I learned from Schwermer into my life and so can you.

Here are the 5 ways we can apply Schwermer’s lessons to our own life to create more joy and happiness.

1. Re-access our needs before buying anything.  Our homes are sacred places.  It is where we can relax and unwind from a busy day.  It is our sanctuary.  We might want to think long and hard about what we bring into our homes and if it would add value into our life or not.

2. Enjoy our experiences.  Rather than buying new things for loved ones or ourselves, what if we spent the time and energy into creating experiences and memories.  Things are nice for a short while, then we get tired of it and we move on to the next big thing.  But memories last and never goes away.  It seems Schwermer is creating a lifetime of memories instead of material things.  And, you don’t always need money to create memorable experiences.

3. Stay in the present moment.  Similar to the last point, this one is about our experiences.  It seems that Schwermer doesn’t need to worry about the future and goes with the flow.  Because she’s so open, she meets all these people on her journey and able to give undivided attention to the people she’s with or the places she’s visiting.  So when we’re spending time with our loved ones, let’s give our full attention to him/her (aka, put down the smartphones and turn off the TV).

4. Look at life with a half full glass.  This is another powerful lesson from the 69 year old grandma.  She has a zest for life and the adventures that lie ahead.  She embraces her experience wholeheartedly.  Because of her positivity and love for life, people gravitate towards her.  We can always find to appreciate something about our life (big or small).  If you want an easy way to start, join the 365 days for JOY campaign (of course, you don’t have to do all 365 days with me…one or two days is good way to start).

5. Follow your heart.  When we are tied to money and material things, we don’t have as much freedom.  We sometimes end up staying at a job we hate so we have enough money to buy the material things that make us happy.  But it’s a cycle.  We buy more things when we are least happy so that we can cheer ourselves up.  It’s human nature.  What if we turned the table and followed our heart first.  That’s exactly what Schwermer did when she first started her journey 16 years ago.

*Photo Credit: Yahoo


About the JOY Coach

Minling Chuang

Minling is the founder of {the JOY depot} and is on a mission to help new entrepreneurs start their dream business. She spent many years working on branding strategies for top brands like Lean Cuisine & Nestle Toll House and launching multimillion dollar products. Now Minling's passion is to help people create profitable businesses they love! She is also a Kundalini Yoga teacher in Venice, CA. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. And if you want to start your own business, book a clarity session with Minling.

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