Are You Getting The
Most Out Of Your Life?
I know a handyman who earns his
living painting, bricklaying and doing bits of carpentry. He's a real
jack-of-all-trades and he's very good at what he does. But it's difficult to get
him to come and do anything because he only works two or three days a week. The
rest of the time he messes around on his boat or in his garden.
months ago I asked him why he didn't work harder.
He explained that he
didn't see any point in earning more money than he needed to satisfy his fairly
simple needs. He told me that he has paid off his mortgage, that although old
and rather battered, his car is his own and that he has all the furniture he
wants. He has, he told me, managed to put aside a few hundred pounds in the
building society for emergencies.
I asked him if his wife was happy with
this philosophical approach to employment. He said that she was very happy and
that they spent much of the week gardening together, walking along the cliffs
or, on sunny days, bobbing around in their little boat. He also told me that he
and his wife don't have holidays away from home because for them home is a
pretty constant holiday but that they do spend a day every month travelling to
demonstrations against hunting, vivisection and other examples of cruelty to
I found his attitude enormously refreshing. This local handyman
is leading the life of a true revolutionary. I suspect that Henry David Thoreau,
the philosopher of Walden Pond, would have been proud of him.
dismiss the handyman's lifestyle as impractical ask yourself how much of your
life you spend earning money to buy things you don't really need and are only
buying to impress people you don't really care about.
Here's a simple
little exercise you can try.
Make a list of everything other than food
that you've bought in the last six months. By the side of each item on your list
make a note of the price you paid.
Then divide your annual income by the
number of hours you work to find out how much you earn an hour. Don't forget to
deduct any expenses from your income before you do this calculation.
you can easily use this figure to find out how long you had to work to buy each
of the items on your first list.
So, for example, if you earn £6 an hour
you would have had to work for approximately 17 long hours to earn enough to buy
something costing £100.
If you earn £10 an hour the new living-room
carpet you bought for £800 will have eaten up 80 hours of your life.
you earn £7 an hour then a pair of £90 trainers will have taken around thirteen
hours of work.
This can be a frightening exercise for you'll quickly
realise that you've given a great deal of your life in order to buy junk that
you don't really need.
Add up the cost of all the unnecessary stuff you
bought last year and work out how much of your life you wasted earning money to
buy stuff that hasn't improved or changed your life.
The whole point of
modern advertising is to persuade people to buy things they don't need; to turn
shallow wants into desperate `must haves'.
It is skilful advertising
which encourages otherwise sane people to spend a fortune on double glazing
which will never pay for itself and to spend thousands of pounds ripping out a
perfectly serviceable kitchen and replacing it with another slightly different
I'm not suggesting that the handyman's life style is right for
But you might like to think about all this a little for the
next day or two.
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2005
This article is taken from the book Spiritpower by Vernon
Coleman which is available from all good bookshops and from the shop on this Web