A rich life.
I became a yoga teacher in downtown Toronto when I was 20 years old. I was still in university and at the stage of life where many of my peers were mapping out their careers. While I worked full-time when I was in art school and was adamant about making money doing meaningful labour, I had no interest in having a traditional career. This was due in part to my experiences as a yoga teacher.
I found yoga after almost committing suicide so I was not unaware of the darker reasons people find their way onto a practice mat. Still, I was surprised by just how many folx sought refuge in my classes. What’s more, many of my students “had it all.” They were doctors and lawyers and CEOs. They lived well in an expensive metropolis and showed up week after week deeply dissatisfied with themselves and their lives.
I heard about crumbling relationships, stress-related health conditions, addictions, eating disorders, and seemingly insurmountable debt. Many of my yoga students had followed mainstream narratives about what makes a rich life and they were miserable. Listening to them made it impossible for me to jump on the career bandwagon. And while many of them found their way to greater fulfillment eventually, it came with a price.
The same year I started teaching yoga the 2008 financial crisis happened. While nothing much shifted for me as a broke student, all around me people were in distress. They had played by the rules and now their investments wouldn’t deliver the financial support and stability that had been promised. Despite having a dysfunctional relationship with money at that time, it was becoming clearer to me that at some point, more money doesn't make for a richer life.
Eleven years and many financial mistakes/learnings later, I am impressed by the insights of my 20-year-old self. When I graduated from university, I went on to travel for years and have experiences that transformed me and my understanding of the world. I found my way to something resembling a career in my late 20s and now do meaningful work as a writer and a coach. My relationship to money is functional; I have access to financial wellbeing.
Despite money being such a centrifugal force in our lives, we’re not given the resources to see our relationship to it more objectively and holistically. So often, a rich life is associated with a wealthy life. What’s more, in a quest for money we can lose sight of what actually matters. At the end of the day, we can’t buy back time. Nor can we purchase a meaningful life. We have to go out and create that for ourselves. Starting where we are with what we have.
What makes your life rich and how does money factor into that?