When I was making close to $100,000 a year in a sales role I couldn’t buy enough shit to fill the deep, heavy void in the pit of my soul.
I’d spend money on lavish dinners, buy tons of drinks at bars for friends, put $20 bets on everything, and basically lit my money on fire.
The only thing I wasn’t spending my money on was hookers and blow.
Spending money on yourself became wildly unfulfilling once I realized that no amount of crap in the world would fill whatever hole I was trying to fill.
One month, I decided, as an experiment, to give away $5 a day to the first person who’d asked for it while commuting throughout my day in NYC.
Sometimes that’d happen with a few minutes of me leaving my apartment and heading to work.
$5 wasn’t a lot to me at the time, so as an experiment, I thought to myself, would I be happier if I just gave this money away?
The answer, I learned, was, hells yes!
That was probably one of the most profoundly happy times in my life while living in NYC.
Instead of constantly thinking to myself, “what can I buy with this $4,000+ bonus check?”, I instead started to give bits and pieces of that money away to total strangers.
There’s an immense amount of freedom in having exactly what you need and nothing more.
In the past few months, I’ve donated all of the worthless crap I’d been collecting over the years to friends and total strangers, and have chosen to live out of a backpack and a duffel bag for an indeterminate amount of time.
And in the last few weeks, I’ve made a handful of incredibly difficult decisions, including:
- Shutting down a business that was a total time-leech and bringing me zero joy or satisfaction, and barely scraping by.
- Saying, ‘No’ to about 90% of incoming client projects.
- And breaking things off with a long-distance partner because I simply didn’t have the mental bandwidth to continue to grow the relationship and thought it was unfair to her.
Often, leading up to those conversations, I’d lose sleep for nights on end wondering if they were the correct decisions to make.
Since making them, I’ve been the happiest I’ve felt in a long, long time.
Making a fraction of what I used to make before, but having an inordinate amount of space in my day-to-day to think, journal, read, write, and film my own projects.
I often avoid giving away time, energy, or money because I assume that if I take those resources away from myself, instead of continuing to build them, that one day I won’t have anything.
What I’ve learned over the last few weeks and months is that I need far, far less to survive on than I ever would have thought.
And that giving back and donating as much as I can make me far happier than hoarding shit for myself.
My life in Denver probably costs around $5,000+ to maintain.
I couldn’t tell you exactly where that went.
I lived in a massive apartment by myself, filled with shit I didn’t care about.
Here in Kyoto, it’ll be a fraction of that.
And I have 20 roommates, and all of my stuff fits in a few drawers and a tiny desk in my room.
Many of us have recently lost $1000s upon $1000s in opportunities, jobs, relationships, and so on, due to this global pandemic.
That will likely continue to get worse over the next few months and years.
And as a result, we are often coming from a place of lack.
In May, I’m trying to do the opposite — instead of coming from a place of lack, I want to pay it forward from a place of abundance.
(And under the blind, delusional guise that at some point that generosity will repay itself tenfold.)
I’m going to be committing as much of my time, energy, and money towards paying it forward in an incredibly positive way throughout the month of May.
And over the next few weeks, I’ll be detailing those experiments through these emails.
Next week? I’m launching a massive initiative to help bring joy to (hopefully) 1000s of medical professionals, in partnership with one of my favorite non-profits in Colorado.