More to Lose vs. Nothing to Lose

“You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be.”

Chuck Palahniuk

The thing about accumulating nice things and expensive tastes is that we have more to lose.

One bad house fire and everything we own turns into firewood. One unfortunately accurate tornado will take everything you own with it. A downturn of the market, or a new technology could make our jobs disappear. Of course, we shouldn’t spend our days worrying about natural disasters and others things that aren’t in our control. The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca once taught, “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” Worry sucks the energy out of our ability to do anything about it. Disasters may come, and all we can do is prepare for risks, prepare for the worst and put the worry away so we can go on with our lives.

Our stuff is so much more than just things too. It’s our memories, our expectations and ideals. It’s our desire to change and be better. Which is fantastic and beautiful, but can also hold us back if we aren’t paying attention.

And that’s the hardest part about losing nice things, we aren’t prepared to let them go.

Not letting things go is another form of worry. It holds us back from doing what we really want to do in life.

I recently read a short Zen Buddhist story about a guy named Badhiya (no idea how to pronounce his name. Bad-hi-ya?). He was a governor of a province wealth beyond imagine — soldiers at his command, money and power —but his friend persuaded him to leave it all behind and was ordained as a monk, with nothing but a mat, one bowl and three robes to his name.

One night Badhiya was meditating at the foot of a tree. Suddenly he uttered, the words, “Oh my happiness, oh my happiness.” It happened that another monk was sitting nearby. The other monk thought that Badhiya regretted having abandoned his position as governor.” The monk reported this to Buddha, thinking Badhiya has a problem, so the Buddha sent his attendant to invite Badhiya to come by. In front of a group of monks Buddha said, “Badhiya, is it true that last night during sitting meditation you pronounced two time the sentence, ‘Oh my happiness, oh my happiness’?” Badhiya said, “Yes, noble teacher, I did pronounce that sentence twice.”
“Could you explain to us why you have pronounced these three words during the night?” the Buddha asked. Badhiya said, “Dear teacher, when I was a governor my palace was guarded by hundreds of soldiers. But I was still very afraid. I was afraid robbers would come and kill me or at least take away all my valuables. So day and night I lived in fear. But last night I realized that now I have nothing to lose. I was sitting out in the forest at the foot of a tree, and never in my life have I felt so safe. Nobody wants to kill me anymore because I have no power, no wealth, and no jewels for anyone to take. I have nothing. Yet I finally have everything. I am touching such a great happiness and freedom. That is why I have pronounced the words, ‘Oh my happiness, oh my happiness.’ If I have disturbed someone, I am sorry.”

By having everything, he was afraid of losing it all. But by having nothing he was free.

Now, I’m not advocating for us to get rid of everything that we own and not enjoy the fruits of our luck and opportunity. I’m just suggesting that it’s unwise to be reliant and beholden to what we own and what tastes we build.

Here’s an example: Can you go even a day without coffee? I couldn’t. A few years ago, I even went on a trip to Thailand and brought mostly coffee supplies with me! I had the works: an electric kettle, a french press… you name it. I wasn’t always into coffee, but now all of a sudden I couldn’t live without it. Until last year. Last year I went off coffee for a full year.

I think it’s healthy to live without the unnecessary things we think we need to be normal and happy. What do you think you can’t live without? Nice clothes? Spotify and Netflix? Expensive wine or cocktails? None of these things are bad per se, but if they are controlling you, especially in negative ways, then they might be.

I still enjoy coffee and tea. I’m not going to forgo drinking it. I love the ritual of making it in the morning and sipping it slowly while reading. But I know now I can stop when I want to and I’ll keep testing what’s good and not good for me for the rest of my life. It reminds me of a quote from Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”

Action Step: What nice but unessential things can you practice living without?

The reason we might have more to lose is because we can end up letting our things own us.

Can we have nice underwear and a new iPhone while also having a ‘nothing to lose ‘ mindset?

Yes, but it requires thoughtful ongoing work. If we can take care of the abundance of things we have around us, while not being afraid to lose them, we can not let the unimportant things hold us back and keep us from living the life and impact we dream of achieving.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #722


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Nothing Endures but Change

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward

Unfortunately-fortunately, the change that endures isn’t always the change that we want. Sometimes change means ‘fewer clients’ and periods of financial angst and shower-crying sessions. Sometimes change means some fool not paying attention and slamming into the back of your car while you are running late.

And other times, changes looks like buying a dog, a new season of your favorite show, a new Drake album, dyeing our hair pink or moving to a new city.

Yet, when change enviable knocks on our door, we don’t always know if its good or bad. And as time goes on, change changes on us. (The nerve of it.)

It’s easy to desire change we think benefits us, and hard to accept change we think harms us, but it’s not always so cut and dry.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to turn every negative into a positive. Some moments in our lives really do suck. Health issues that don’t go away… Someone taking advantage of us …
And yet, even when the nonsense stuff happens to us, we still need to find a way to resolve it and move past it.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can do the best we can do to seek the change that creates abundance in our lives, and learn to be steadfast when change pushes us around.

When I think back on my life so far, it’s often the short term, immediate pain, setbacks, failures and negative events that have blossomed into long term benefits and drivers. As painful as they may be in the moment, setbacks can change us for the better if we let them. It wasn’t long into my health and renaissance journey that I injured my neck in a bad way. It wasn’t the start of my health journey, but it was the catalyst that made me seek out health and wellness even more.

Change shows us what we have been neglecting. It shows us what’s important and what matters to us.

An injury that changes your trajectory in life.

A critique that drives you to get better.

A failure that forces you to start over.

I don’t wish ill of anyone, but I do hope you experience wonderful change in your life.

Life without change would become stagnant. Change, even the negative kind, can be a force we can use to create a positive impact on our lives.

“Nothing endures but change.”

Heraclitus

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #713


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Going With Your Gut

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

Saying ‘no’ to opportunities is one of the hardest* things we face in life. (*Relatively speaking. Is it up there with facing cancer or a death in the family? No. But what we say yes and no to ultimately determine our paths in life.) But unbeknownst to most, saying ‘yes’ to EVERY opportunity is a sure-fire way to make yourself miserable. Juggling is fun. Being stretched like a rope in a game of mud tug-of-war is not.

No — as hard as it can be in the moment — should be our default when it comes to giving away our time and resources. This requires sharp instincts and agile decision making skills which we can hone through practice and having clarity in what we want in life. If it’s not something that aligns with your goals, brings value (directly or indirectly) to you and others, or brings you joy and makes you feel alive, then no is the way to go. Sometimes that means making compromises and passing on good things.

But remember why you are saying no. You are passing on good things because you have great things lined up, or currently occupying your focus. (If you don’t, then saying yes to an opportunity that comes your way might be the best option for what you have to work with. Go with your gut.)

Call it what you will — sacrifices, opportunity costs, hedging, mitigation — great things require us to say no to a lot of fun good things.

Great things require us to say no to a lot of fun and good things.

Particularly when the fun / good things distract us from our true passions and goals we ultimately want (and would like) to say yes to.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner

Daily Blog #663

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Freedom*

*Some restrictions apply

In America, at the most foundational level, freedom was built into our DNA.

‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ 

Freedom is what we all want, but it’s something we want, not something we automatically have.

Do you feel free? If we all have a right to freedom, why do most of us feel the opposite?

At least in America, we all have rights to it, kind of. The problem is it’s (unintentionally) easy to give your freedom away in different ways:

Want a great education? Of course, you can, at the expense of decades worth of loans and financial debt.

Want to be a good ________ (Writer, journalist, doctor, lawyer etc)? No problem, just conform to exactly how and what we tell you to do and maybe you’ll catch a break in a few years.

More often than not, we have to box our freedom away because we are beholden to someone or something else.

There’s an aspect of freedom we often don’t think about, and that’s work.

During the inception of the new country, freedom wasn’t easy. The founding Americans gave everything to enable that freedom.

I think everyone and their crazy uncle has at some point wanted passive, make-money-while-you-sleep income, or at least enough wealth to be free from doing work. There are two twin problems I see with this mindset:

One: We hate work, or rather we want to escape work that we hate. 

And yet we don’t. We give up a little of our freedom for a piece of stability and peace of mind. We suppress the creativity we want and were born to do, in order to have more (mistaking the pursuit of happiness for the pursuit of things) or because we have too (because other pieces of our freedom, such as finances, are being boxed up) And so, we keep doing work we hate because that’s all we know, or because another circumstance in our lives convinces we could never leave the stability, even if that means being miserable.

Two: We desire freedom from work.

Which is actually the wrong way to look at it. What we should desire is to have the freedom to work.

Freedom to work.

On work that aligns with who we are and who we want to be. A universal truth says do work that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. You’ve heard this, I’ve heard this… This doesn’t mean that you’ll spend all your time sipping pina colada’s with Jimmy Buffett of a beach somewhere, rather, no amount of work that you do will actually feel like work because you’ll be loving every second of it. 

It’s not enough to be free from work. In fact, trying to escape work is almost like trying to escape meaning or happiness. 

The founders of America knew this. They created freedom through hard work. You can’t have one without the other.

Freedom is the equivalent of a prize inside of a cereal box. The free toy is yours, but first, you gotta earn it.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner