We spend our whole life being told by society what we should and shouldn’t want. We’re told that we should want a big house. We’re told that we should have perfect bodies. We’re told what type of things are cool to like and which things aren’t. How often do those things actually align with what we really want? True happiness comes when we can allow ourselves to stop being controlled by the whims of society and start living life for ourselves.
From November 2019 - July 2020 I was miserable at work. On paper, nearly everything was perfect. I was making decent money. I liked the people I worked with. The company did a lot of great things for its employees. While everything should have been fine I wasn’t happy and my unhappiness was spilling over into other aspects of my life.
I felt trapped in my career trajectory, that I had no choice but to stay at my job, and sometimes didn’t see much hope for the future. When other co-workers would leave the company I would feel incredibly jealous that they had found a different job when I felt so stuck.
While I wanted to leave I felt like I couldn’t. The problem was that I was addicted to money and the false sense of security and accomplishment that it provided.
Addicted to the Green
Growing up my family didn’t have much money. We didn’t live in poverty by any means but there were a lot of things that I felt embarrassed about. Because I believed that my embarrassment was caused by not having enough money I came to believe that I could get rid of my shame if I simply had enough money.
I didn’t realize it at the time but I was creating a belief system that would rule my life.
Through college and in the first few years of my career I was controlled by money. I was obsessed with checking how much money was in my bank account and checked almost daily. Despite having more than enough to cover my bills and to buy some things just because I wanted them, I thought that I needed more and more if I was going to be happy. I would say, “When I have $X in my bank account I’ll be happy.” but I’d hit that number and then immediately I would just increase the amount I’d need before happiness would arrive.
It’s ironic that what I thought would make me happy was actually keeping me in a job that made me unhappy.
Thanks to a personal development and finances course, actually offered at my job, I was able to realize that I was obsessed and that no amount of money would ever be able to fix the problems inside me. Having realized that the problem was me and not the money, I have been able to start working to rewrite my belief system and develop a healthier relationship with money.
Deciding to Leave
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was drawn to the idea of being able to create and build something that could provide opportunities for my family and for the families of my potential employees. Over the Fourth of July holiday I saw a cousin who told me they had started their own business and I felt incredibly jealous. I was jealous that she was living my dream and I was stuck at a job that I didn’t know how to get out of.
That same weekend when watching Hamilton and listening to the song, Wait for It I was struck by the thought that we are all going to die. The only choice that I have is how I decide I want to live. Thanks to the work that I was doing to overcome my obsession with money I was able to realize that at the end of my life if I looked back and hadn’t tried starting a business that I would regret it much more than I would miss the salary from my job.
Within a few weeks of that my sister, Rachel von Niederhausern, had told me about a business she wanted to start and I agreed to work on it with her. I quit my job and left behind the salary and the fake happiness it gave me.
I should note that making this leap was still relatively safe for me, my wife is a teacher and makes enough money to cover our bills but losing ⅔ of our income still hurt.
We’re all Going to Die
Whether we like or not, we are all going to die. The only choice that you and I have is how we want to live our lives to make the most of the time we have.
All of us have to decide if we’re going to live life to make others and society at large happy or if we’re going to live according to what will make us and our families happy.
Note that I am not advocating for doing things that bring temporary happiness as many things that might bring momentary happiness lead to eventual heartache. I’m advocating for decisions that will bring sustained happiness over a lifetime
For me, that decision was to stop worrying about how much money I made so that I could pursue entrepreneurship.
For you the struggle and the decision will be different.
With the right training and practice we each can have the courage to make those decisions when the time comes.
Now, Rachel and I are building Healing Homestead, a comprehensive lifestyle medicine group, whose mission is to cultivate abundant life for individuals and families. We believe that the power to create happiness is in each one of us and that the tools to unlock that happiness are simple and affordable.
We help families find abundance through nutrition, exercise, and connection.
We hope that you’ll follow along and that we’ll learn together as we cultivate abundant life.