Property Doesn’t Take the Place of People

Over the last twenty-two or so years, we have moved roughly nine times.  Although those moves have been within a two-mile radius, the whole process, from start to finish, is still quite a life disruption. We continued to move for a few reasons. The first was that my wife loved the whole process of finding a house, decorating it and then selling. Or, building a new house and selling it.  It fed her creative spirit. The second, and maybe most important, is that however connected we were to our homes, they were just that: things. Our attachment to them ran shallow. But, the one rule that remained resolute before ever selling any one of our homes and purchasing another one was this: we had to stay in the same school district. We would never force our children to leave friends, teachers and activity groups and have to forge new relationships during their critical developmental milestones. Although, for both me and my wife, this wasn’t the case during our teenage years.  Both of us moved a considerable amount during our school age years. For me, from Michigan to Florida to Texas and back to Michigan and for her From Michigan to Texas to Minnesota and back to Michigan. Since we had both lived through changing friends, schools and teachers we weren’t going to put our kids through that.

A common saying in our home goes like this “We are not attached to things; we are attached to people”.  And, so before our first few moves, the conversation would always begin with that family mantra. After a while, there was no need for the mantra, it was understood. Roughly twenty-two years after our first move and living in our tenth home, I have learned a thing or two, and here is one of them:

Your life experiences, upbringing and core beliefs determine where you sit on the Property-People, People-People spectrum. For some, relentlessly pursuing the accumulation of financial wealth is a lifetime endeavor.  For others, financial wealth is less important than living their lives in “service to others”. Everyone rests somewhere on the spectrum. As is the case with most spectrums, falling somewhere in the middle seems to be optimum.

With this spectrum, I would suggest that the closer you get to People-People or “service to others” the more meaningful life you will lead.

The real tipping point is not the accumulation of wealth, although striking a balance within the different areas of your life is important (i.e. don’t sacrifice your marriage and your relationship with your children/family for the relentless pursuit of financial success), your attachment to it is. There are many, many people who have achieved tremendous financial success and use it for service to others. Its your level of attachment that ultimately decides the path that your life takes. An unhealthy attachment to most everything in your life can tip the scales of balance and that includes money, homes, cars, boats, toxic people and situations.

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