Stuck in Debt, or Living Richer?

Affluence is what many still seek – as long as the house and the car get bigger, there is more stuff, they think they will feel better. It goes to the point where 18 to 27-year-olds actually have higher self-esteem and feel better in control of their lives when they have more(!) credit card and college debt*. That’s human psychology.

Simpler lifestyles, meanwhile, are seen as a sacrifice that only some eco-idiots would seriously want – until you start to drown in stuff and the debt that was needed to pay for it, have an emergency and realize that having liquid financial assets is only too necessary.

The crazy thing that usually gets hidden by the normalcy of modern lifestyles is that we all, even and especially when we seemingly live debt-free, rich, lives, are actually deeply in debt.

Life, as a matter of course, is owed to nature. We have to eat, to clothe ourselves, to have shelter; we want to network, communicate, play, be modern – and the resources we need for it are a part of this world.
Modern life, however, takes out not just interest, but capital of nature, and is thus truly running up ever higher (ecological) debts. – You have probably heard how, if every human being on Earth wanted to live an average American or European lifestyle, we’d need the resources of some three to five planets Earth…

However, if you struggle to make a living, to stay abreast of your next student loan payment, buildings insurance premium or mortgage payment, it hardly seems to be anything to concern yourself with. It should, though – but not in the way it’s usually explained, because you just have to take responsibility and save the planet, but rather because you will live better when you take heed.

Where does this wide-ranging dual debt, the financial, and the ecological, have its roots, after all? In the desire to keep up with the Joneses, live like they do in the movies, get that degree because everyone says it’s the only way to a good job which will bring a rich live.

Well, even the millionaires don’t feel rich anymore, it’s become so costly to keep up with one’s peers. They aim to become billionaires, and think then they’ll be happy.

Meanwhile, happiness – a rich, better life – does not depend on lots of money in the bank, let alone lots of stuff bought on credit. You can make your life more secure, richer, better by making it less ecologically and financially indebted.

You need to get out of passivity, out of the rut in which you think that your life will be better by buying and realize that you need to be active, creative, and experimenting with your life. Learn more about the things that make happy, and seek to get more of them into your life.

It may sound all too simple – but these simple things are really the hardest. It requires you to be more active, to get off your ass and do something other than just turn on the TV, after all. It asks for more thought than “do I buy that on cash or credit?” It also requires more – or actually, less – than just getting the product that says “eco”/green/natural on the box.

Living more creatively, more aware, however, builds good habits and skills which are the foundation of a good life, rather than its empty promise, no matter what.

1 comment for “Stuck in Debt, or Living Richer?

  1. Diego
    07/08/2011 at 13:58

    Simple is more, like this great article!

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