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Friend,

One thing I learned in life is the secret to happiness isn’t owning a lot of stuff, or having status in life– it is having meaningful relationships and meaningful work.

I. What do we need to be fulfilled?

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For me, all I need to be happy is to be close to friends, family, and loved ones– and to have meaningful conversations, deep meditations on life, and engaged ideas with them. To me, there is a beautiful art of conversation.

Also, meaningful work. You gotta do work that is meaningful to you.

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I define meaningful work as doing work that is greater than yourself. Work that helps others. Work that expresses your creative potential. Work that expresses your soul and spirit. Work that allows you to progress, to level up, and to strive for more interesting things.

Ray Dalio, billionaire hedge fund manager, taught me this. He said that if you have enough money to cover your basics, and you have meaningful and interesting work and meaningful relationships, having more money will not help you.

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I also get confused by thinking that happiness is having “fun” in the view of pointless entertainment. I just think if I find this new game that entertains me I will feel happier. But I realize, doing meaningful and interesting and engaging work is far more fun than just playing some game where I tap on a smartphone screen for hours on end.

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Consider that buying a new car, a new watch, purse, outfit, camera will not allow you to have more meaningful work or more meaningful relationships. This is what prevents me from going out to buy shit I don’t need.

II. More stuff, more stress.

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For me, I’ve also realized that having more stuff is more stress. Having more clothes means I waste more time washing and drying them. Having more cameras means more stress before I go out to make photos. Having a more expensive watch gives you anxiety when you travel to a foreign place, because you have the fear that someone will chop off your arm for your Rolex. Having an expensive car is stressful because everyone will want to scratch it and key a drawing of a dick on the door. I remember in high school, my friend Nick keyed a penis onto the car door of a rich kids BMW and thought to myself, “I will never own an expensive car.”

Even when you have expensive stuff, you get anxious. Even if you are rich. If you shoot with an expensive Leica or high end DSLR, you get anxious that someone is gonna steal your camera. The same goes with traveling with an expensive iPhone, or any luxury good.

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So logically and rationally, having more expensive stuff leads to more stress. And to less weight in your wallet. And fewer zeros and commas in your bank account.

I prefer having more cash in the bank, because it is a buffer to my time and freedom.

So if I have $100,000 in the bank, I can live for a really long time without having to depend on my job to pay for rent or expenses. And the easiest way to become wealthy is just to live below your means. Even now, I no longer own a smartphone (don’t gotta pay for service), I don’t own a car (don’t gotta pay for insurance or maintenance costs or monthly payments), and I don’t own a home (no slave inducing mortgage).

I am the ultimate free spirit.

And the more freedom I have, the more I can share these ideas for with you for free. And to uphold my virtues and ethics, of empowering others with free and open information.

Conclusion

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So friend consider:

What meaningful work or relationships do I have?

If you don’t find meaning from your day job, figure out how you can find meaningful work from your passion or hobby. Make more meaningful photos.

For your relationships ask hard questions. Ask your friends and family their dreams, secrets, fears, and insecurities. Deeper conversation, not same bullshit topics about politics or Netflix shows.

Live a purposeful and interesting life, and you will thrive and stay alive (until you die) with a smile on your face. Always strive to be first place in your own eyes.

Be strong,
Eric