3 Things I Learned From Being Homeless
In my early 20’s I spent a few years living in vehicles, random motels, and often times out of my backpack. I would set up camp wherever I was when the day would end. I would wake up and repeat this cycle. I did this for many years before trying to re assimilate into society.
Here a few principles of life that I took away from the experience.
To Change Your Life You Have To Change Your Friends
“You Are The Sum Of The 5 People You Hang Around Most.”
Youth has a way of making us willfully ignorant. My boundaries around friendship used to be dangerously simple, only be friends with people who like the same music as you and who do the same drugs as you regardless of their personal aspirations and moral code.
As I have progressed in life so have my boundaries. I am currently in a season of life where I am battling against my partner about my boundaries. She thinks that they are too strict. That I cut people out too soon. She is probably right, but I am quick to cut people off for good reason.
I try to not hold judgement in my heart for anyone. Simultaneously I will also tune out of a conversation if I think it’s toxic or just mindless chatter that devolves into gossip. I would rather spend all of my time discussing ideas or concepts that we learned from past experiences. This mindset has led to me being surrounded by creatives and entrepreneurs for the first time in my life and I couldn’t be happier.
You don’t need to announce to your friends that you’re moving on. You don’t need to tell a group of potential dinner party guest that they bore you to tears with their incessant gossip and stagnant blabber. Just politely nod your head and decline any further invitations from the group. This is easier said than done but it gets easier with practice.
The Hedonic Treadmill
“The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes”
The Hedonic treadmill can keep you poor or it can keep you rich. One of the things that gives us an evolutionary advantage is our ability to adapt. Strangely enough we all struggle to change, but after a little resistance we quickly accept out new life and before no time at all we fall back into a routine.
I was quite content being a hobo. Then I got a job and lived in a room for rent. I got paid twice a month and every other paycheck was when all of my bigger bills were do. After that pay period I usually had less than $20 until the next check. I lived off of dumpster dived food, a few dollars in tips from my job as a cashier at a burger place, and happy hour buffets. I could get two beers for $4 plus a tip and I could get a free dinner. That was enough, that was more than enough if I was happy and having a good day. If I would have thought about it for a few moments I would have told you that I wanted bigger things for myself and that logically I knew I needed to do something different, but psychologically I was set in my ways.
I think about this lesson all the time. Have I just leveled up my bare minimum, or do I actually have enough? At the end of the day this is a personal question, but it is completely possible for you to gain momentum and run yourself off of the hedonic treadmill of life.
Desire Makes You Miserable
“The end of desire is the end of suffering”-The Buddha in the Dhammapada
I have often said that I was the happiest when I was without a home and there is some truth in this. I am happy now and have a beautiful family. I wouldn’t trade what I have now for anything, but I can sometimes get caught up in the desire to have more.
When I am trying to convert a client or I am trying to finish a project so I can get another check. I try to remind myself that I used to get thrilled about making $20 panhandling.
Why is it that I would ever be anything other than happy with this kind of perspective? I think the answer to this is desire.
You shouldn’t be without goals or ambition. Unless you’re going to live as a monk in a monastery, but even then the goal is enlightenment or nirvana. Honestly that sounds much hard than saving for retirement. However at the end of the day I think truly happy people set all of their desires aside. They look around and if their family is healthy they are able to be at peace.
“A healthy person is full of desire while a sick person only has one desire.”