Is Financial Independence How Life Was Meant to Be Lived?

As I continue to write this blog and think of new and better reasons to become financially independent, I’ve come to consider whether financial independence is truly how life was meant to be lived.  In other words, is this the ultimate road to self-fulfillment?

To answer that question, I try to envision what kind of life financial independence could bring.  In my mind, financial independence will let me pursue my passions without worrying about money.  For some of you, this could mean becoming a writer, actor or dancer or pursuing a whole array of careers that, without financial independence, could turn you into a starving artist.  Nonetheless, without the added concern of putting food on the table, you’re given free rein to design your life as you see fit.  And while you wouldn’t be tied to a permanent day job, you can always choose to work for extra income.

Compare this to the life of a Kalahari Bushman.  As you may know, the Bushmen are hunters and gatherers that live mostly on berries, nuts, roots and melon.  Because these foods are readily available in the Kalahari, the Bushmen spend on average only 12 to 19 hours* a week obtaining food, a portion of which is allocated to hunting for meat.  The rest of the week is then devoted to rest and leisure.

So what do the financially independent and the Kalahari Bushman have in common?  For starters, neither work long hours.  Both have their basic needs covered; the financially independent has her passive income and the Bushman has her various plant foods.  In addition, just as the financially independent can choose to work part-time for extra income, the Bushman can hunt for extra meat.  Because of their flexible lifestyles, both can devote most of their time to doing what they love; the financially independent can pursue her passions while the Bushman enjoys her leisure activities.

Given these similarities, it’s apparent that the type of life that financial independence can create is not just a new phenomenon.  Rather, the Bushmen have enjoyed it for centuries, and it’s well known that their relaxed way of life has protected them from a host of stress-related illnesses that are common in the western world.

But there’s one crucial difference between the financially independent and the Bushman: the financially independent had to work hard to achieve the lifestyle.**  Put another way, unlike the Bushmen who were born into an environment rich with nuts and berries, most of us were born without passive income.  Instead, we have to work for our money so that we can buy our basic needs and luxuries.  Thus, if we want the freedom and stress-free lifestyle that financial independence can bring, we’ll have to work hard and make our money work even harder.

So in conclusion, the natural, carefree life of a Bushman and its similarities to financial independence is rather convincing that this is perhaps the way life was meant to be lived.  But to achieve this life, we must work for it.  So let’s all imagine the possibilities that financial independence can create and use those and the Kalahari Bushmen as inspirations to keep working and saving!

*That’s about 70% to 85% less than my typical work week. 

**This assumes that the financially independent did not simply receive a large inheritance or win the lottery.  

photo credit: Elia Fester & children, Kalahari Khomani San Bushman, Boesmansrus camp, Northern Cape, South Africa via photopin (license)

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