Once a week I used to buy myself a bunch of flowers to have in the house. I did this because I deserved it. I worked hard, made a decent amount of money and could spend it on things like spoiling myself. The only trouble was that I did not enjoy the flowers. I only say them when I was running out the door in the morning or coming home after dark. I was so caught up in my own work-drama that rarely did I notice the flowers that I had bought until the petals brown, soggy and sticking to the bottom of my shoes.

After leaving my all-consuming job, the one that afforded me the income to pay for these lovely tulip, lilies and roses that garnished our house, I found I had time to take walks in the park to look at the flowers. I was literally stopping to smell the roses. I could view the flowers in their own space and appreciate them for longer, because they had not been harvested for my enjoyment. This free activity, I have come to realise, is quite an apt metaphor for the changes I have seen in myself since living without a stable income. I’m enjoying my surroundings in the way they are intended to be enjoyed, not moulding my surroundings to a way that is more convenient for me to enjoy them.

Catching up with friends has become an enjoyable chat in the park or walk, I’ve seen that I do not need to create an activity movie, roadtrip, lunch etc as an excuse to see the people I care about. I’m finding it more enjoyable actually to talk without distraction or pretense. 5

I have done away with my new pair of shoes every fortnight habit, and more shockingly stopped my two chocolate bars a day habit. I did this without even considering the financial implications. Once I no longer had the stress of my 9-5 job, I simply found that I no longer needed these things. I was buying (and in the case of chocolate, eating) my way to fulfillment. It wasn’t working. I did not however realise this until I saw what life could be like.

I know there are a lot of people who genuinely enjoy their jobs, and many more who think they do. I found that it was not until I stopped and reflected that I saw how unhappy I was. I had thoroughly convinced myself I was happy. I had a great job (on paper), I was making good money, had a big house and lot of toys to play with. I thought I enjoyed being busy and worried that I would not last the four weeks I had set myself to recoup after leaving work. I suspected that I would get restless, bored and need to go back to work sooner.

I now find myself six weeks later only seeking part time or freelance work in order to make enough money to cover necessary expenses. I want to devote more time to the things that make me happy. I do not need a lot of money to do these things, I just need time and an open mindset – these are two things that no amount of money can ever buy.

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